This coming Shabbat we read Parshat Vaera. I have fond memories of this Shabbat as a number of years ago the Rebbetzin and had the priviledge of being in the Holy Land at this time! We had a fantastic trip leading Birthright groups and enjoying an action packed two weeks in Israel. From wine tasting up in the Golan Heights, snow storms in Jerusalem, seeing where rockets landed in Sderot, inauguration ceremony for soldiers by the Kotel, tour of Shaarei Tzedek hospital, to floating in the Dead Sea, it was a non-stop adventure!
As described above, there were amazing experiences we enjoyed but I recall something occurring which reminded me of a powerful life message. Some background: The planning and preparation that goes into organizing the two week birthright program is tremendous. It takes about 4 months of planning to have everything ready for the student’s arrival at Ben Gurion airport. Fortunately it is organized by experienced people in Melbourne and primarily through the tour company in Israel. Every minute of the trip is planned before hand and we are provided with exact details of where the bus will be at any given moment. However that particular year, there was a massive snow storm in Jerusalem. I am sure many of you read about it on the news at the time. It was a snow storm that Israel had not experienced for over 50 years. Jerusalem and other cities were brought to a halt. There we were, 80 of us, “trapped” in our hotel for 4 days. The great plans and preparations for our 4 days in Jerusalem were suddenly not possible any more. Friday Night at the Western Wall, usually a highlight of the trip was no longer an option with the snow covered Jerusalem. A visit to Yad Vashem also cancelled with the museum closed due to the snow.
There is a famous Yiddish expression “A mentsch tracht un Got Lacht”, “A man thinks/plans and G-d laughs”. The expression I believe teaches a person to understand that even with the greatest preparation, planning and organization, we must always recognize and understand that the ability to do things comes from Above. In our situation, even though at first I was disappointed at our predicament in the Holy City of Jerusalem, I realized that we were being taught one of life’s greatest lessons, right in the heart of the Jewish world. I could think of no better place to be taught this most beautiful message! I conveyed this to our 80 participants and whilst a few looked at me with “not such fond eyes”, the majority appreciated this lesson and made the best of our rather cold Jerusalem experience.
So as we start to get back into the swing of things with the new calendar year upon us, let’s remember that whilst its always important to plan ahead, don’t forget who really calls the shots!
I look forward to a busy and beautiful Shabbat at SCHC with Friday night live, Shabbat fabrengen and ‘In conversation with rabbi and rebbetzin’ back on this week!