Dear Graduate,

This was the day you dreamed about for a very long time.

On so many occasions, the thought in your mind and your conversations with friends began with the words “When I will graduate high school/when I will graduate yeshivah ketanah …”

You frequently contemplated and meticulously planned what you would do after graduation. Every aspect of your summer plans was the subject of lengthy discussion — and that, of course, was only the prelude for the year to come.

For years now, you have been thinking and talking about life as a “13th grader” — whether that entailed attending yeshivah or seminary overseas or staying closer to home.

Then, three months ago, Hashem sent us the unimaginable.

The coronavirus crisis taught us to pause. To think.

To stop taking things for granted.

For so long, it was so clear to us that after Pesach comes the final school session; after Shavuos, a key wedding season; then comes camp, along with the excitement of summer jobs.

There was so much about our lives that was routine that — though we never said it — we assumed that we could dictate what our plans would be. Part of that routine was to add “im yirtzeh Hashem,” but much of the time we used that as a synonym for “yes.”

Now, Hashem has reminded us once again of the mortality of man, and uncertainty reigns supreme in our lives. We have painfully learned that we are not masters of our own fate, and neither the present nor the future is in our own hands. We realize that nothing we have should ever be taken for granted and that every aspect of our lives is subject to change.

Everything is only im Yirtzeh Hashem; only if and when Hashem will want it will it happen.

As you prepare to experience a very unusual “graduation,” please remember, it’s a school graduation; it is only one of many milestones on your life’s journey. As each of us moves from one step to the next, the lesson being internalized now is an essential one for life.

For now we understand — the hard way — Who is the Leader and who are the followers, Who dictates plans, Who stops them, and Who makes it possible for us to execute them.

Please do not be upset that you missed something that all your older siblings had, something that you thought about for years.

You should feel proud that you are actually one of the first ones to pave a new path, learning and living a real lesson in emunah and bitachon.

Wishing you much hatzlachah and that birchos Shamayim should follow you in all your endeavors.

Ruth Lichtenstein