Experiencing God in This World

The driver’s side car door from the outside needed to be maneuvered twice to open. Then I discovered that this door didn’t open at all from the inside, requiring me to climb over to the passenger side to get out. Next, the new tire that was just installed had low pressure. Finally, the push-down ignition was hard to press down. Anyone with car trouble knows the haunted feelings of having to wait at the car dealership for hours for things to be fixed. I took it in stride and made my appointment for the following week, braving the door situation, hoping the tire would adapt and pushing down hard on the push-key.

In a few days the situation resolved on its own. The door now worked from the outside and inside. The tire pressure went up and the press-down ignition worked smoothly. The question was what’s next?

Rabbi Yitzchak Berkowitz notes that the meraglim story was merely a story of facts. The one question was how those facts would be interpreted. The meraglim saw them in a negative light. Contrast this with tzizit where Rashi notes that from the simple fact of a blue techelet one could see the High Heavens.

How we see facts determines our level of happiness and frames how our relationship with G-d will be. One must just know one fact: "kol mad'avid rachmana letav avid" - "all that the Merciful One does, He does for our benefit.” With this axiomatic truth one can live a life of nirvana.

I saw the facts of my car trouble as a wake-up call and possible kapara for certain things. I was happy in the occurrence itself and extremely happy when it resolved. But I wanted to do more. I wanted to thank G-d for the great chesed bestowed upon me and wanted to cling to G-d more.

After Dovid HaMelech observes that his kingdom was accepted by B'nei Yisroel he decides to have more children and, ultimately, Shlomo, who would continue his malchut, was born (II Samuel 5:12-14). Dovid needed to take action to thank G-d for having his kingdom received with such love. The Ralbag explains that it was because of the hashgacha that Dovid felt that he needed to take concrete action to show his love for G-d.

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, upon leaving the cave in which he hid from his Roman persecutors, wanted to thank G-d for his miraculous survival. Out of gratitude he took upon himself to repair the city for the benefit of others. Out of his feelings of hashgacha he benefits mankind (Shabbos 33b).

You see then a two-fold type of love that one can express when they are recipients of hashgacha. An act for the sake of G-d like by Dovid, that ultimately perpetuates the Davidic kingdom and an act for people, as seen by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai who repairs structures for the people of the city.

But what is the ultimate goal in this world, the place where one wants to exist on a moment-to-moment basis, a place where all the hashgacha leads us to? In the first chapter of Mesillas Yesharim the answer is found: “When you look further into the matter, you will see that true perfection lies only in clinging to G-d.” The end goal is to be davuk with G-d. Devekus is possible in this world when there is a constant pouring out of love to G-d for every moment of hashgacha and the continued mindfulness that every occurrence is telling us something and benefitting us. My car was merely another vehicle to achieve greater devekus with G-d.