September 29, 2023
September 29, 2023

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On Experiencing Hashem in Our Lives: Hashem Hugged Me Today

Years ago, after successfully traversing one of the challenges Hashem sent my way, I recognized that in my avodat Hashem I leaned heavily on the side of Torah study. Yet, knowing that our interpersonal relationships are at least as significant as those between man and God, I committed to work on this spiritual growth challenge. Most of the time it is difficult to assess one’s own progress in the goals we attempt to reach; yet, recently I experienced a full-blown message from God that I was now on the right track. Before Shavuot I spent a good deal of time sitting at the bedside of a patient. The days were fulfilling, and most of the time I was lucky enough to catch a ride home with a friend of the family. Yet, on a particular day I found myself rushing to get home in time to take my husband Jack out to dinner for his birthday. As we learn through experience, “haste makes waste” and often leads to extra hours making up for mistakes. I called my reliable friend “Uber” for the return trip, anticipating catching a nap on the way home. When my driver arrived, I checked to see if he had the right destination point, a technique I use to make sure the rider is genuinely connected with Uber. Only this time he was unable to do so, claiming the technology was faulty. I was then prepared to exit the car and try for another driver. Yet this particular driver could not understand why I was unwilling to “just give him my address,” and when I refused he became somewhat belligerent. I was left with no choice but to make a quick exit, failing to realize that my handbag slipped off my shoulder as I made my escape. It was only when I returned to the lobby that the excitement of making a successful escape from potential harm was quickly dashed. I was now faced with the reality of how slim the chances were that I would successfully retrieve my lost handbag.

After an hour of attempting to contact Uber, as well as enlist the help of hospital security and local police, the frustration set in. I finally accepted the loss of my credit cards, license and cash, feeling defeated as I returned to the hospital room to wait for Jack; the last thing I expected was to receive a message from God. It seemed that my neighbor called, informing Jack that a New York Uber driver was in front of our home with my pocketbook in hand. After conversing with the driver, Jack was impressed with his honesty and compassion. Even more reassuring than the return of the handbag, with all my cash and credit cards accounted for, was the return of my faith in humanity. I was stunned by the idea that this proud and compassionate man from Nepal took the time to seek out my address. How amazing that he opted to participate directly in this act of loving kindness, rather than just leaving it up to Uber. Yet for me, the greatest gift of the day was the “hug” from God I experienced, letting me know that He was and always will be there for me.

Years ago I attended a shiur by the well-known inspirational speaker Tziporah Heller. While I don’t recall the specific challenge our Jewish community was experiencing at the time, I do remember the words of chizuk she offered the community of women in the room. She explained that in order to maximize one’s ability to feel Hashem’s presence in our lives during challenging times, it’s important to make a practice of connecting with God on a personal level each day. If we accustom ourselves to seeking Him out, He will surely reveal Himself in the many places and spaces we fill in our daily routines. Rabbi Yudin refers to these revelations as “Divine winks.” It is this way that Hashem reminds us that He is always there for the asking, if we open our hearts and minds and just let Him in. Rebbetzin Heller also highlighted numerous doable strategies that were meant to convince even the greatest skeptics among us of Hashem’s ongoing accessibility. She suggested that a message from God does not have to be winning the lottery or a vacation in Israel. We just have to begin by being mindful of even the simplest and most mundane circumstances, such as finding a close parking spot during a downpour or recovering misplaced items, such as glasses and iPhones, when running late for work.

It is these ordinary events that I now recognize as among the many gifts Hashem sends my way, and for this I am so grateful. After all, who would have thought that it would be an Uber driver, whom I perceived as a potential enemy, that would reinforce my emunah in Hashem’s accessibility as well as my belief in the goodness of mankind? We are now coming off the high of the “Har Sinai moment” we all experienced on Shavuot. Yet we can sustain that “high” by remembering that “Hashem,” the God Who gifts us with the magical Har Sinai moments in our lives, and “Elokeinu,” the God Who places us in the “mundane,” “annoying,” “frustrating” and even “mess-up” circumstances, is “Echad,” one and the same. This means there is the potential for goodness even in the times we perceive as ordinary, frustrating or challenging, and that we can use them to make a real difference in transforming the quality of our lives and the joy we experience. Let us remember that Hashem is behind every closed door, waiting to shower us with His Divine hugs and winks. It is up to us to let Him in.

By Dr. Renee Nussbaum

 Renee Nussbaum is a practicing psychoanalyst with training in Imago and EFT. She also facilitates a chavruta in cyberspace on the weekly parsha, edited by Debbie Friedman. She can be reached at  [email protected]. 

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