Crystal Balls Are Not Part of the Equation

This is a guest column by Rabbi Da-vid Rosenthal, from Aish Minnesota. Read Rabbi Da-vid’s Divrei Torah on his blog.
Have you ever wanted to throttle someone for revealing the end of movie that you really wanted to see? Ever seen Shawshank Redemption, or The Sixth Sense? Those are the kind of movies where no one sees the ending coming, and to have it told to you beforehand would ruin the movie for you.
On the other hand, have you ever wondered how your life would turn out?
Who you would marry, how many kids/grandkids you would end up having, where you would end up living, what you would end up doing? Having a plot told to you can be annoying, but when it comes to our lives, we are often eager to know how the story will end.
In this past weekend’s parsha, we saw this dichotomy played out between Yaacov (Jacob) and Hashem. On his death bed, Yaacov calls his sons together. Being a prophet, Yaacov tells them he is going to reveal to them what will happen over the rest of Jewish history all the way to the End of Days.
Yet the next moment, he is instead giving them all blessings, describing their inner traits and blessing them accordingly. What’s going on here, what happened to the “Spoiler Alert” two seconds previous?
Rashi (1040-1105), the medieval scholar explains that as Yaacov was about to reveal The-Grand-Plot to his sons, the Divine Presence suddenly left him, rendering him unable to access the vision of the future. So instead he reverted to giving them all a blessing.
Why did the Divine Presence leave Yaacov as he was about to reveal the future? Yaacov was obviously under the impression that Hashem wanted it revealed, or else he would never have attempted to do so. It seems that there was a disagreement between Yaacov and Hashem on the future tests facing the Jewish People.
Yaacov felt that just like in a race, where you see the obstacles up ahead, and the finish line, your task is simply to negotiate the challenge and win the day. Hence his desire to spell out to everyone exactly how the future would pan out. The challenge of living through the difficulties would be demanding enough as it is.
However Hashem had a different perspective.
Part of the challenge of life is not knowing how things will go.
The challenge of the unknown is an integral part of the test.
As it says in the Song for Shabbat: “To relate His kindness in the morning, and His faith in the night.” Night is an allusion to the darker times in our lives, when things aren’t so clear. It is during these times that we cling to our trust in Hashem and know that things will work out. This is part and parcel of existence – lack of clarity is built in.
Often we get shown glimpses of light where events which previously seemed mystifying, become clear and understood. We need to remind ourselves of these moments of clarity during the nights of darkness.
A quotation I recall goes something like this : “Man can withstand any ‘how’ if there is a good enough ‘why’.”
Understanding that behind all of creation is a plan and a purpose, can serve us well, even when we are deep in the midst of it all.
May we all merit to have the ultimate clarity that will arrive with the coming of the Mashiach (Messiah).
(Photo: JasonLangheine)