Friday, January 19, 2018

Making Decisions - Dvar Torah for Parshat Bo by Bezalel Spolter

Last year, as a senior, I had to check a couple of yeshivot for the next year. All over the place, no matter where I went and who I talked to, the question was always the same: "Have you decided what yeshiva to go to for next year?" The answer was always no.

The pressure was very intense. The decision I had to make would decide what I would do for the next five years, what kind of Torah I would learn, and even what kind of person I would turn out to be. Yet, people kept asking me the same thing over and over again. I had only checked out two yeshivot but I really liked both of them. It was a very hard to choose between them.

As I thought about this earlier today, watching seniors check out my yeshiva, I wondered. How do you make that kind of decision? How do you decide what's best for you? How can you know what the right decision to make is? The yeshiva decision is just one of many other decisions I will have to make in my life, all of them probably equally as hard, if not harder. The truth is, I have no idea how I did it.

Luckily, that is exactly what the Baal Shem Tov talks about on this week's parsha (On a side note. It amazes me that I had a thought this morning and then that day learned about it with my chavruta that afternoon).

The Baal Shem Tov asks a similar question. How can one know if he is on the right path, making the right decisions? לוט's daughters thought the world was destroyed and they were the last human being alive. Were they making the right decision? What aboutבני ישראל at מעשה פעור? They thought they doing the right thing but got severely punished. So how can one know what to do?

Charedim or Dati Leumi? Right or Left? Raanana or Kiryat Shmona (the yeshivot I liked)? And many more personal or general dilemas.

The Baal Shem Tov starts by stating that in reality, it is very hard to know whether the thing you choose is the right one or not.

However, the way you make the decision is very important. There is a big difference between rushing into the decision and sitting on it for a while. There's a difference between frantically pushing for an answer and calmly choosing. The way you make the decision, is what decided what the outcome will be.

More so, it doesn't end there. Once a person calms himself (the Baal Shem Tov says a good way to calm yourself is by learning Torah), there is one more thing needed. Hashem. Inspiration from above.
Lightning won't strike and make the answer suddenly become clear. Hashem won’t choose for you. But he will certainly guide you to what you really want, what's really good and what’s really right. Now the question is: are you able to receive his guidance? Are you panicking and making an irrational choice? Or are you slowing it down, calmly and logically making what you think is the right choice.

And that's what מכת בכורות is about. At midnight, possibly the first half of the night or the second.

Exactly in the middle. A ספק. In the still, calm atmosphere. That's when Hashem will make his move.

That's when he intervenes.

It's a very small technical difference, but it drastically changes everything.

It's true whether you're deciding on switching to a different path or staying where you are. Choosing what profession to focus on, or where to live. Whether to dramatically change everything or keep walking the same path.