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Parshas Terumah - Man Laughs and God Plans                    3 Adar I 5782

02/04/2022 09:28:13 AM


There are times when we plan things with care but end up with not being able to make our plans happen.  On the other hand, there are times when we need something to happen, but do not think this will come to fruition.  Then, lo and behold, that which we wanted, but did not think was going to happen actually occurred! That familiar, old Yiddish adage, “Der Mentsch Tracht un Gott Lacht,” loosely translated as “Man Plans and God Laughs,” applies to the negative and also to the positive. Despite our most careful planning, the ‘Road of Life’ tends to be unpredictable. We might have a well-planned road trip and destination strategies, but scenic new vistas might beckon us, or unforeseen roadblocks could deter us. Typically, we carefully plan (and we need to plan) to go somewhere or look forward to some upcoming event, and for whatever reason God thought otherwise, and these plans did not come to be. On the other hand, one must look at the situations that appear quite gloomy yet end up working out - despite our negative mindset.

“Der Mentsch Tracht un Gott Lacht is a powerful phrase.  It strengthens our Emunah, our faith and belief in Hashem.  Sometimes our plans don’t work out; sometimes they work out perfectly.  At all times, they always work out according to the will of Hashem.

On a recent trip, I experienced this reverse concept no less than three times.  The first experience was taking the red eye out of San Diego and being delayed because of a computer glitch. That in it of itself wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that the previous day’s flight had the same issue and was cancelled. At this point we were reaching the curfew, the time when flights can no longer depart out of Lindbergh field, San Diego’s airport. I had resigned myself to the fact we would deplane and decide to fly the next day or cancel the trip altogether. Lo and behold, there was an announcement over the PA system telling the flight attendants to prepare for takeoff. I could not believe it! The plans had completely turned around in my head.

The second experience occurred as a direct result of the delay of the flight. I always manage the precise timing of plane arrival, deplaning, collecting luggage, getting to the car rental area, checking out the reserved  rental car and, in this case, driving to Lakewood, all planned in order to make it on time to join a decent minyan. Having been delayed, we were running exactly ninety minutes behind schedule and needed to squeeze in a minyan  before going to an appointment I had scheduled.  In short, I had very little flexibility. With a few phone calls, I decided to take a hit and miss minyan at the latest time possible. Once again, bingo! I caught the only minyan that would accommodate all the necessary details I required.

The third situation (although a bit different) occurred on Shabbos morning as we awoke to see over a foot of beautiful, glistening blankets of snow. Not being too well prepared for that kind of winter storm, my grandkids and I assumed I would stay home and not go to Shul. No way!  Donning my inferior winter gear, we prepared to make the trek to Shul and see if God had different plans for me that morning.  

My oldest son-in-law was raised in a brutal winter city; he is always well-prepared for these kinds of storms. The fresh snow was about mid-calf deep, and I only had the usual waterproof over-the-shoe rubbers/galoshes that would cover my shoes but nothing above my ankle. For those who have experienced walking in the snow know, as you step down, the surrounding snow caves in and covers whatever else is exposed. I recalled an old phrase, “in the footsteps of our forefathers,” observing the deep footsteps my son in law created by going first. Then, just as I imagine one would walk through a mine field, I carefully stepped into the exact same footstep that my son-in-law had imprinted in the snow. This plan worked, and by putting forth this effort I was able to get to and from Shul with minimal cold/wet/icy impact of the snow on the ground. I returned home and gleefully related to my attending audience how another plan or negative experience turned out positive, transforming from failure-to-execute to fulfilling that which I did not think was going to happen. This is not exclusive to learning or davening but to every facet of life. I would even bet that Moti did not expect the Bengals to upset the Chiefs in Arrowhead. In his mind, during his seven hour drive to the game he never really thought or expected a win, and once again the outcome was so much greater than he anticipated!

All of this could not have been topped off in a better way than from an insight my youngest son-in- law immediately showed me regarding  why all these situations connect to a higher level. In this week’s Parshas Terumah, the Torah describes the building of the Mishkan, the portable Sanctuary. The Torah lists the different Kelim/articles that were used in the service of Hashem: the Ark, Shulchan, Laver, and different covers. My son-in-law pointed out a beautiful understanding of the Aron, the Ark. In Shemos 25:12 the Torah states: "ויצקת לו ארבע טבעת זהב ונתתה על ארבע פעמתיו, ושתי טבעת על צלעו האחת ושתי טבעת על צלעו השנית"  “Cast four gold rings [for the ark], and place them on its four corners:* two rings on one side, and two on the other side”. There are opposing views of where these “corners” were located. The Radak and Targum explain Pa’Amosov as corners. Rashi states that the rings were at the very top of the Ark. Based upon the Gemara Shabbos 92a, they were 2 1/3 handbreadths (7 inches) from the top of the Ark. Ramban and Rabeinu Bachya state that the rings were at the very bottom of the Ark. The Ibn Ezra and Abarbanel maintain that the Ark had legs and the rings were on its feet. The Ibn Ezra explains, and I quote as follows: THE FOUR FEET THEREOF. “I searched all of Scripture and did not find the word pa’am (foot) used in the sense of corner. It is always employed in the sense of a foot. We thus read in Yeshayahu 26:6: Even the feet of the poor, and the steps (pa’ame) of the needy;.In Tehilim 85:14 Dovid HaMelech says, “I shall make His footsteps (pe’amav) a way”, and in Shir HaShirim 7:2 Shlomo HaMelech says,”How beautiful are thy steps” (pe’amayich). There are many other instances, and I was therefore forced to explain that the ark had feet, for it would be disrespectful for the ark to sit on the ground. Later, in Sefer Yehoshua, the Navi describes how those who carried the Aron/Ark, were, in actuality, being carried by the Aron. The Aron had feet and IT carried everyone else!

The Aron, which housed the luchos/tablets, and the Torah represent everything God stands for. Although we explained that the Aron had legs and carried itself, it is the power of Hashem that carries us all wherever we go. The lesson of the Aron is if we attempt to do a mitzva or to do the right thing, Hashem will lift us up -  physically and spiritually -  to help us succeed in all our endeavors. As we walk in the footsteps of the Torah, we must remember that the legs of the Aron take us where we need to be. .

Ah Gutten Shabbos

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Raising a Community, a Family and Ourselves along with Developing a Torah Personality can be purchased from me directly or by clicking here via my author page at Mosaica Press.

Tue, August 16 2022 19 Av 5782