Nine writers recount their search — and what they found
earching” is the theme. Aren’t we all searching for something beyond chometz or the perfect Yom Tov outfit? Aren’t so many of us searching — for our soulmate, the right lifestyle, the right occupation, the right way to raise our children? So much of life is about searching.
But what if searching moves to the esoteric? Sometimes Hashem’s plan presents us with the need to search — not to understand His reasoning, but to discover how He wishes us to implement His plan. Sometimes we find ourselves with a very different situation than we’d anticipated, one that is incomprehensible to our mortal minds.
We search when His plan seems to diminish our ability to serve Him as we might wish. Why would He choose not to allow us to find our soulmate so we could build a bayis ne’eman to bring Him glory? Why would He give us physical disabilities or ailments that make serving Him far more challenging? Why wouldn’t He doesn’t bless us with children to continue His legacy?
What if He recalls the neshamah of a spouse, a child, a sibling, a friend, a gadol who would have glorified His world? Our search then becomes the elusive “Why?” Our search is not for the “madua” of Hashem’s unfathomable ways, beyond our comprehension, but for the why of the holy, inspired lashon hakodesh, “lamah.” L’mah, for what. For what purpose have I been given these challenges?
As we grapple with the l’mah, we must seek the action Hashem wants us to take in response to His Heavenly Plan. The search is often a long process.
As I navigated the waters of living on my own without a spouse, each financial hurdle left my accountant asking in despair, “Why didn’t you ask?”
“Because I didn’t know what I should ask!” I replied.
As I navigated Yamim Tovim and even Shabbosim alone, my dear friend who is an editor suggested I write a book for other women living alone. For a few years, I laughed off her suggestion. “I write magazine articles, submit, and see it in print!” I told her. Immediate gratification! But with time came the realization that writing a book, might, indeed, be my “l’mah.”
An even longer period was needed as I searched for a way to memorialize my son Akiva a”h, a brilliant, charismatic young talmid chacham who was doing kiruv from a young age. But at the right time, we launched a kiruv program in Brooklyn, which is now flourishing in a large community of unaffiliated Jews.
Think, my friends, of the chesed born from those searching for an appropriate response to Hashem’s bewildering plan for their lives. From those who have searched for a refuah have come massive campaigns for tefillos, for Tehillim, for extra learning. Organizations were formed to provide joy and support to families with children suffering from life-threatening diseases or for children growing up without a parent. So many gemachs and organizations were founded by those searching for meaning.
Everyone’s search for “why” is as individual as a thumbprint, yet each of us must find the ability to accept and seek a response that generates positivity in Hashem’s world. Several years ago, I wrote a piece about turning Plan B into Plan A. The catalyst for the article was the last-minute cancelation of a trip to Israel for a family simchah because of a middle ear infection.
Well, Hashem in His infinite wisdom has definitely raised the bar on Plan Bs. I’ve learned that you can’t necessarily make Plan B into Plan A that in any way resembles the Plan A you had always imagined… but still, we search to find a “why,” a “l’mah.
Like searching for chometz every year in the same corner, drawer, or pocket, we may have to continue our search on a fairly regular basis. Writing a book about the world of special needs to memorialize my son Saadya a”h after he succumbed to COVID-19 was by most standards a “l’mah,” but it did not fill the abyss of missing his smile, his infinite simchas hachayim. We launched a weekly Zoom series on the concept of simchas hachayim, with different speakers each week, an ongoing testimony and a valid “l’mah,” yet it does not fill the vacuum of his absence.
So we continue to search — not for the “madua” of Hashem’s inscrutable plans, but to find the “l’mah” — the actions we’re meant to do as we try to bring His world to the ultimate perfection.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 789)
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