Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz – Just for Kix


Operation Inspiration


Let it never be said that the Gewirtz family is not a group of adventurous risk-takers. No, we don’t sky-dive, bungee jump, or pick up hitchhikers, but listen to this: One Thursday night, my wife received a call from her cousin’s husband. “My brother in Monsey just had a baby. This is their first child and it’s been several years since their wedding… the Shalom Zachor is going to be close to your home…” The conversation continued, then included myself and her cousin, but after a couple hours and a number of texts and phone calls, the decision was made: “Sure, we can host your family of NINE, with seven kids under 12, for Shabbos.” See what I mean? Adventurous risk-takers!

Well, as Hashem always guides these things, we had been expecting some other company (friends of my beautiful, intelligent, talented, yerai Shomayim, and shidduch-parsha’ed daughter – e-mail me with offers for her; no camels or goats please) so the plan was to make a little extra food, and with the kids camping out in the playroom, it was really doable. To lighten the load, my wife’s cousin brought along some of the food she’d made, as well as a box of Shabbos cereal for the morning. (Since I’m sure you’re curious, it was Berry Berry Kix, and now you understand the title better.)

Well, I’m usually an early riser on Shabbos morning as I like to learn in the quiet, pre-Shacharis atmosphere of my living room, and I put paper bowls, plastic spoons, and the cereal box on the counter. Sure enough, not long afterwards came the pitter-patter of little feet up the stairs to the kitchen. One of the girls, maybe 7 years old, prepared breakfast for herself and her little brother. She took two bowls and the box of cereal to the table. Glancing up from my sefer, I asked if she needed help opening the bag. She gratefully bounded over to me. I opened the bag, handed it back to her, and told her the milk was in the fridge. The kids enjoyed their special treat and then went back down to the playroom.

As I thought about what had just happened, I reflected on the fact that if you’d asked her later, she’d have told you she got breakfast herself, without any grown-up help. If you mentioned the bag, she’d acknowledge that, of course, but otherwise she didn’t have to trouble anyone. But how accurate was that?

Had I not prepared the bowls and spoons for her? I took the cereal box from the high shelf in the pantry where she would not have been able to reach it even if she knew where it was, and I made sure the milk was within reach in the fridge. Yes, everything just “worked out” for her to be able to “do it by herself,” but that was far from being without adult intervention.

And that’s very much how our life is. Hashem prepares things for us so we find them when we need them. If we have trouble, like with opening the bag, we ask Hashem and He uses His strength to overcome the challenge we couldn’t. We find the things we need right where He tells us they will be, and then, somehow, we believe we’ve done it all on our own.

Like one day, (about two minutes ago), when I was looking for something in the garage. I couldn’t find it, but then I spotted something else I needed to bring upstairs. As I leaned in to the shelf to get it, the item I was originally looking for was literally in front of my nose. I can take a hint, and that’s why you’re reading about it now.

The Mishna says that one who reads the Megilla backwards has not fulfilled his obligation. That’s because the greatest impact of the miraculous turnabout is gained when one sees all the steps leading up to it which seem to have been incidental or irrelevant. In the end, though, when the mask is pulled off and we see that Hashem has been pulling the strings the whole time, we have this almost uncontrollable outburst of laughter when the unexpected truth is revealed. We think we are running the show until we recognize all the steps that He orchestrated to get us to the end of the story.

And that’s the kind of truth that reminds me of the song, “A gantz yohr Purim, freilich zol men zein – the whole year is Purim, let’s be happy.” Every single day, Hashem is doing things for us behind the scenes. If we take the time to realize that just like on Purim when we celebrate the fact that He’s taking care of us in ways we can’t see, He’s doing it all year long, we will have a reason to be happy and revel in Hashem’s love and care 24/7/354.

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