| Parshah |

Ich Vaze Nisht

Sometimes living without knowing the plan is part of Hashem’s plan


“And Hashem said to Avram, ‘Go from your land… to the land that I will show you.’” (Bereishis 12:1)


ashi explains that Hashem left Avram’s destination vague to increase the difficulty of the challenge and thus increase its reward.
People like to know what lies ahead of them so that they  can anticipate and plan. Not knowing where, what, and when your next move will be is an unsettling feeling. (Rabbi Dov Shapiro, Torah Insights)

I used to have a good sense of direction. One of the best presents my kids gave me, years ago, was a huge, thick atlas of Israel. I loved poring over those pages, tracing roads and rivers the length and breadth of Eretz Yisrael.

Enter modern days’ Waze. My car was equipped with this new technology, and before I knew it, gone was my instinctive sense of direction. Why should the gray cells work if the blue line on the screen showed me exactly where to go?

From this Rashi we see that living with uncertainty is not an accident. It’s a specific type of challenge designed to help us grow in our emunah, while finding and accepting comfort in the knowledge that Hashem has our lives and our futures under complete control.

One day I had to drive to Beit El — which, for the uninitiated, is a beautiful yishuv north of Jerusalem. It’s also about four miles from Ramallah. My son had an appointment there, so we blithely hopped into the car, programming Waze for our destination.

We drove past Yerushalayim, paying little attention to direction, as I could navigate these roads in my sleep. But as I headed farther into unfamiliar territory, I glanced at Waze to see where I was meant to go next. And saw that Waze was recalculating. And recalculating. And continuing to recalculate.

It wasn’t the first time I’d encountered lousy reception that blitzed my Waze’s abilities. But it was definitely the first time this had happened when I was all too conscious I was traversing roads where a wrong turn could lead to — well, I had my son in the car; I wasn’t going there.

When we have challenges, we often want to know how they’ll turn out. But the real challenge is to ride that wave of uncertainty with emunah, realizing that although we don’t know what lies around the next corner, the future is being controlled by a loving, caring G-d who wants only what is best for us in the large picture.
To the extent that we embrace that recognition, we turn the challenge into an opportunity for growth. Because sometimes living without knowing the plan is part of Hashem’s plan.

I pulled over to the side of the road and pulled out my ancient atlas. Ha! I hadn’t opened it in years, and apparently the roads built way back then were obsolete, making my atlas as worthless as a typewriter.

Still. I had a basic idea of where I was headed, and Waze would kick in within minutes, no? Plus, while I didn’t want to admit this to my son, I wasn’t confident I could retrace our route to get us out of this quagmire, either. I continued driving slowly, surveying my surroundings, and casting surreptitious looks at Waze to see if it had come back to get my back. No such luck.

Then ahead of me was a fork in the road. Left or right, with two road signs above it: One said Beit El, the other Ramallah. The two innocuous signs hung by some indifferent road worker rested one on top of the other over the fork in the road. Neither was pointing right or left. (Up? Down?)

Two roads diverged in a yellow desert… Left or right. Quick! No time for melodrama over the repercussions of this decision. There wasn’t even a shoulder to pull over to agonize whether I was choosing correctly. I made a quick calculation in my head, ran through my basic knowledge of Israeli geography and, mumbling Tehillim, I swung onto that left fork. And continued driving to where… I knew not.

Yet Hashem had mercy on me, and within a moment a sign appeared on the side of that deserted road: Beit El ahead.

I’d been right to turn left.

I sent up a tefillah of gratitude and bakashah that Hashem should continue showing me His waze.


 (Originally featured in Family First, Issue 816)

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