Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz – Informed Delivery


Operation Inspiration

The United State Postal Service has been around since its establishment at the Second Continental Congress in 1775, when Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first postmaster. The idea that you can send messages and more from one place to another for pennies (or dollars) is quite amazing when you think about it. If you wanted to get something across the country and it didn’t exist, you might have to travel there yourself. But you don’t.

While there are plenty of jokes people make about it, it is something to be appreciated. And one of their more recent service offerings is called Informed Delivery. As part of the mail processing and sorting system, all items are routinely scanned by computer. I guess someone figured, if it’s already being scanned, why not share the pictures with the recipients so they can know in advance what’s coming their way? And it’s a great tool. When you’re expecting an important letter, you can know that morning that it will be delivered later in the day, giving you peace of mind for a few extra hours.

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Well, I subscribe to this service and one day I was reviewing the mail to be delivered, almost getting a chance to peek into the future if you think about it, and I saw something that did not make me happy. It was a letter from New York City, the department that operates the cameras in the traffic lights. I’m sure some people somewhere think it’s great to have those, but I don’t like them. Maybe somewhere out in the boondocks like Maine they’re fine, but not in Brooklyn or Queens.

When I see that envelope, I know they want money because someone in my family “whizzed” down Ocean Parkway at 32 miles an hour or something like that. But, Baruch Hashem, it’s better than anything worse, so if it was decreed to have a motor vehicle incident, let that be it.

Well, as I proceeded to scroll through the day’s mail, I noticed another envelope coming which contained a check I’d been waiting for for some time. The pain of the first envelope was offset by the second, which I knew was more important to me.

It made me think about the pain and discomfort we have in life. Whatever happens to us, we have so much more good coming at the same time that it should help to offset it. This is certainly the case for the annoyances like people being insensitive or missing a bus, and even for the bigger things. People do have real problems, from parnasa to health to shidduchim, and I’m not downplaying it. But we have so much good in our lives that it should lift our spirits and soften the blow.

We could focus on the challenges and the suffering, but why would we want to? If when these things happen to get us down, we continued scrolling in our lives and saw the happy things, the things we perhaps take for granted, like breathing, seeing, walking and talking, we could shift our moods.

And this works in world events too. My wife and I were talking about the time of Moshiach. We are living in such tumultuous times now that we all hope these are the “birthpangs of Moshiach” we’ve all heard about. She said, “Aren’t a lot of bad things supposed to come before Moshiach arrives?” I said, “Yes, though it’s possible to avoid some of them, and some say the Holocaust was part of those pains. But,” I continued, “the good and happy of Moshiach will outweigh all of that.”

Rabbi Akiva told the rabbis who were crying when they saw foxes on the Har HaBayis that when he saw the fulfillment of the prophecy of destruction, he knew the prophecy of rebuilding would come true, and they were comforted. He was able to see the big picture and take the suffering in stride, because the pleasure and blessing were so much greater.

What a fabulous way to see the world. To be able to put things in perspective and recognize how wonderful the Ribono Shel Olam is to His creations; to be able to cope and overcome even outrageous pain and suffering, because we know it comes from a loving Father, and that the medicine is nearly always accompanied by a spoonful of sugar.

Let’s try to keep this in mind when things happen which we aren’t happy about. Troubles have been foretold but so have salvations and joys. I guess it is a good idea after all to keep informed about what’s coming down the line, especially when we’re expecting a special deliverance.

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