One of the prayers in our morning liturgy gives gratitude for the renewal of each day. Among the fourteen phrases thanking God for our numerous blessings, one thanks the Divine for “providing for all my needs.” Whenever I recited this blessing, I would get to that line and acknowledge that my basic needs are met and so much more.
One of my teachers opened my eyes a bit wider by suggesting “all our needs” includes the stuff of life we say we need like a “hole in the head.” In other words those frustrations, accidents and devestations that befall us that we certainly don’t ask for and would never in a million years say we needed.
I acknowledge this is dicey philosophical territory. Does someone actually need a cancer diagnosis? A viscious frenemy or relative? Or, God forbid, the loss of a loved one? No. No. No. But really horrible stuff happens — to all of us. Six plus decades playing this game called Life and I recognize the painful experiences that have surely formed me and demanded of me growth and healing. I’ve railed at God plenty for “giving” me what I not only didn’t ask for but said up front I did not need in the least. Guess what? I got some of those too. Accepting them has brought insight and ultimately understanding.
The verse “who provides for all my needs” is followed by “who guides us on our path.” Perhaps this is intentional. When we’re shunted onto a painful path a little Divine guidance just might light the way.
I Love this Debra!! So true and sometimes feels like it doesn’t make sense but then I feel stronger for having gone through a difficulty.
Thank you, Laura. Your light has guided me often.
So, the parsha this week is Chukat–about those rituals, activities, actions we are commanded to do that have absolutely no “rationale”–from our perspective. Why do we do them (or, did them since some like the sacrifice of the red heifer can’t be done until we build a new Temple)? Because HaShem said so. Some things we just don’t understand. Some things we don’t understand today, but perhaps tomorrow–with more experience, greater insight, a different perspective–we may “get it.”
I’m currently reading Tovah Feldshuh’s book “Lillyville.” One of the extraordinary things she does is to tell us what her mother (Lily) did and how Tovah (in the early years, Terrie Sue) felt, reacted, responded–typically she felt devalued. And THEN, she takes a different look, a different perspective and sees what her mother may have actually been doing, or feeling, or responding to; and that puts a totally different spin on Lily’s behavior.
Direction, guidance, instructions, even though resisted, plus omissions and detachment–all motivated, shaped, moved Tovah to achieve, to become a dedicated actress, a loving daughter, mother, wife, friend. So, does HaShem do the same for us, and do we react the same as Tovah, and in the end, does it all push us to pursue our individual purpose in this lifetime? Chukim–the suprarational commandments we don’t understand–equally as important as mishpatim and eidot that we can understand, maybe even more so. Because HaShem said so!
Debra, I think coming to grips with what we “need” and what we are “given” in this life is the ultimate question and answer. I’ve found that in accepting it all, and surrendering to the power and presence of the amazing God-Force, when I get the most difficult challenges, I also get the ability and strength to cope with them and eventually rise above it all. I also get the most joyous moments of life to sustain me. Your commentary here is so profound, and certainly asks of us all to look at what “Need” is all about. Thank you for always bringing me to the gate of thought through your language and descriptions. I feel honored to be one of your readers!