Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz – Bird’s Eye View

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Operation Inspiration

 

While visiting a hotel, I was placed in a room on a very high floor. The view from the window was both breathtaking and intriguing, and if I looked very far down, I could see birds flying beneath me. I also saw the roadway which led to the lobby of the hotel, as well as the roads curving out of it this way and that leading to the parking garage or back to the lobby. It was especially interesting to me because I now saw arrows painted on the roads and graceful curves which made perfect sense. When I’d driven out before to go park in the garage, I was confused.

The garage was to my right, but the road from the lobby took me out to the left. I was going the wrong way but somehow I ended up in the right place. It was a very confusing experience, trying to follow the signs to the best of my ability, but from this vantage point it was clear that the curve to the left was only there to make it easier to join the road going to the right and the parking garage. That would have been helpful to see before!

Watching the seagulls lazily coast in circles many floors below, I imagined that they could have seen what I now saw because their perspective gave them an edge I couldn’t have while sitting in my car at ground level. As I continued to gaze out the window, I looked at the grass and extrapolated my thought process. If the birds could have seen more than I could, then a tiny ant on a blade of grass in the middle of the nearby field would be at a greater disadvantage than I and would likely not even be aware of the driveways, let alone their paths and planning!

I’m sure that by now I’m predictable enough that you know where I’m going with this. My kids did. As soon as I started to relate what I’d seen, they understood that I was going to compare my lofty perspective to that of HaKadosh Baruch Hu. He dwells above everything and what to us seems like incomprehensible twists, turns and obstacles, is clear and perfect to Him. He has laid out the course of our lives and the Universe like an architect or highway engineer, so we are directed at each moment exactly where we are to go. It may seem counterintuitive to us, but if we had the perspective that Hashem does, we would understand.

Now, we don’t actually need His perspective to function. All we need to know is that though we may be limited like the ants in the grass who can’t see the road or understand its arrows, Hashem is the ultimate Planner and He sees what we don’t. There’s a great chasidish story about this sort of trust.

R’ Shimon of Yaroslav lived to a ripe old age. When asked the secret of his longevity he replied:

“Everything that Hashem does is good. However, when things happen to people that they consider bad, they question Him and say that it was unfair, or should not have happened. He therefore has to take them to the Olam HaEmes, the World of Truth of the next world, to show them why what He did was not only just, but good and necessary.

I, on the other hand, am content with whatever Hashem does to me, because I know that all He does is for good. Since He has nothing to prove to me, He has no need to bring me to the next world just yet.”

So, the best way to behave is to recognize that Hashem has a better-than-birds’ eye view, and trust that He know what He’s doing. We should therefore follow His rules and know that there is sound reasoning why things happen as they do.

This concept would stop here, except for one more fascinating fact which ties this all together. The Gemara in Sanhedrin (92a-b) tells us that after six thousand years, the world will be renewed for a thousand years, when Hashem will dwell alone, as a sort of Shabbos. However, the tzaddikim who were revived at Techias Hameisim will not die. So, where will they be? Says the Tana D’Bei Eliyahu, Hashem will give them wings like eagles (which some explain to mean angels) and they will fly over the water, never tiring, for those who hope to Hashem will be renewed with strength.

I always wondered why Hashem had to give them wings like birds. It struck me this time that it may be for this very reason.

The tzaddikim of the world are the ones who trust in Hashem. They know He has a plan and sees much more than we could in many lifetimes. They accept that they don’t have the soaring viewpoint that He does and with which He arranges the world. How fitting, therefore, that they are given the opportunity to fly above the waters and have that viewpoint from which many more things can be understood.

 

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Operation Inspiration: Finding Meaning in the Mundane Paperback

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