Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz – That’s Impossible


Operation Inspiration

Years ago, I heard a story. Someone told R’ Aharon Kotler that once, R’ Yisrael Salanter missed the (earlier) Magen Avraham’s zman for Krias Shema, and he fainted. R’ Aharon replied, “Impossible. That didn’t happen.”

The fellow asked, “You don’t think the holy R’ Yisrael Salanter could have fainted from missing that earlier zman?” “Of course, I do,” said R’ Aharon. “But I don’t believe he would ever have missed it!”

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Sometimes, things are so clear to us that there must be an alternative explanation. In this case, it was that the story was incorrect, rather than that this holy Jew could have missed an optimal time for Shema.

I have a neighbor who is meticulous in many things. He is careful to be punctual and he is fastidious in taking care of things as he believes they should be. For example, in our neighborhood, we recycle. Once a week, a truck comes and collects paper items, such as newspapers, magazines and carboard boxes, as well as plastic and glass items like cans, bottles, and containers.

On windy days, you can find various items blowing around the neighborhood. Unsecured soda cans and empty seltzer bottles glide up and down the block, and Amazon boxes roll like tumbleweeds across our lawns. But go to his house and you will see the flattened cardboard boxes stacked evenly and cleanly together, secured in another box, and almost inure to the howling winds that cast other people’s items halfway to the next county. He doesn’t shirk his duties to his community. Which is why…

I was shocked, one day, when I walked out to my car, and found a cardboard box with his name on it in my driveway! It hadn’t been flattened or cut, and it had made its way to my home. My immediate reaction was, “There must be some explanation.” This is simply NOT the person I know. There is no earthly way he would toss a box cavalierly to the curb, not worrying what would happen to it. In other words, I said, “That’s impossible.”

Knowing how careful he is about these things, there is no way he one day decided, “It’s just one box; no big deal.” I am positive he didn’t say, “I already bound up all the other boxes, I’m sure it will be fine.” I knew there had to be a reasonable explanation, and it didn’t even matter to me what it was. Could one of his children have taken the box out without his knowledge? Perhaps, though I’m sure they know what their father would want. Could someone else have ordered something to his home, maybe as a surprise for his or her spouse, and he gave it to them? It’s possible. But that he just “didn’t care?” No way.

It made me think about HaKadosh Baruch Hu. He is the greatest giver and the most-caring being in the Universe. He is the most meticulous to provide precisely what each individual needs, and to ensure proper reward to even the tiniest creature. He orchestrates everything to perfection in a way we can’t even fathom.

Therefore, when things happen that we find bad? We should be thinking, “That’s impossible!” Hashem doesn’t DO bad. He doesn’t even do second-best! Everything Hashem does is perfect and precise. If it looks bad, there must be an explanation. And our trust in His perfection should be so absolute, like mine in my neighbor’s fastidiousness, that we don’t even need to figure out the explanation. It’s enough to know that there must be one.

We should be shrugging our shoulders and saying, “OK, Hashem has a plan and a reason. If this happened, it’s from Him and it’s for my own good.” And no matter how shocking or horrific the circumstance, we have to put it in perspective and recognize it was delivered to us with precision.

When people do or say things to us, we recognize that they couldn’t do what they did without Him. There’s a method to the madness that sometimes surrounds us, and we ought to work on getting ourselves to the point where it’s a given. If parnasa is difficult or shidduchim are challenging, that comes from Hashem. He will send us what He wants us to have when He wants us to have it.

At the same time, we must emulate Him and try to make sure that what we do is consistently above reproach so that when someone questions something we do, they should already know the answer is that we’ve done the right thing.

So, like my neighbor who ensures his boxes are packed well and don’t shimmy or shake, let’s remember that everything Hashem does is a gift, and it comes to us perfectly packaged.


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