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Timing Is Everything

05/31/2019 01:31:48 PM

May31

They say, ‘Timing Is Everything.’

A song with that name was released in 2010. Here is one stanza:

When the stars line up

And you catch a break

People think you're lucky

But you know its grace

It can happen too fast

Or a little too late

Timing is everything

I think a lot about the last three lines.

When we turn to G-d and ask for the blessings we need, we often forget about the blessing of timing.

In the opening verses of this week’s Torah portion Bechukotai, G-d says: “If you will follow my laws, then I will provide rain in its time.” Similarly, in the Shema prayer, we read of G-d’s promise: “I will grant the early and late rains of your land at their proper time.”

What are the blessed times for rain? The commentaries explain: 1) At night, so it will not disturb you; 2) after the sowing season, which thoroughly sates the soil and the seeds; 3) just before the harvest time, to fill the grain on its stalks. During different times, rain can become a nuisance, or possibly even a curse.

Not just rain, but every blessing requires the right timing in order to truly be a blessing.

Someone once shared with me: When he was starting his first business, his friend offered some advice. He thanked his friend, but continued with business as usual. Unfortunately, the business turned sour, and he suffered a great loss. After this, he went through a difficult phase unsuccessfully trying to launch several new businesses, and eventually he fell into a state of despair and depression. In one of his counseling sessions, he was advised to speak with a certain successful businessman and mentor. When he did, the mentor offered him some business advice. It sounded like promising advice, and within a short span of time, a new business was up and running. The person was finally a success story. A while later, he shared his entire story with his friend. “Do you realize,” his friend reacted, “that mentor’s advice is exactly what I told you many years ago.”

Indeed, the advice was the same, but the person was not. When he first heard the advice, he wasn’t ready to receive it or appreciate it. Only after his bumpy journey was he finally ready to discover the true blessing of the advice.

When we wonder why it appears that G-d hasn’t blessed us with what we asked for, it might help to consider whether we are really ready for the blessing. Perhaps, G-d who truly wants to bless us, also wants to bless us in the right time.

Returning to the rain metaphor, there is another piece to the blessing of timing: Rain is certainly necessary for the crop to grow, but rain will only be a blessing if first one has ploughed and sown the land. In other words, we must first perform our part before the blessing can come to fruition. The blessing isn’t some kind of magic, but rather a force that turns our efforts into the desired outcome.

The story is told about Rabbi Shalom Dovber, the Rebbe Rashab of Lubavitch (1860-1920). Once, a deeply troubled person visited the Rebbe in hope of finding some solace, but the Rebbe responded to his dire condition, “There is not much I can do to help you.”

Upon hearing this, the person left the room brokenheartedly and burst out in tears. As he crossed paths with the Rebbe’s brother, Rabbi Zalman Aharon, he related his astonishing experience with the Rebbe to him.

Baffled by the man’s experience, Rabbi Zalman Aharon resolved at once to approach his brother the Rebbe and ask him for an explanation of his seeming lack of compassion for this man’s painful request. When he met with the Rebbe, he informed him how brokenhearted this person was.

Upon hearing this, the Rebbe’s countenance changed. He immediately asked that the person be summoned. As soon as he stepped foot into the Rebbe’s study, the Rebbe granted his blessing and shortly afterwards, the man’s condition began to improve.

Apparently, the Rebbe saw that the man’s brokenheartedness had fundamentally changed him. Originally, the Jew was not a fitting vessel for Gd’s benevolence, but when the man examined himself with a broken heart, he became worthy of the blessing.

So before we turn to G-d to ask for whatever it is we think we need, we ought to first turn to ourselves and evaluate if we have performed our part, ploughed and sowed our lives, so that G-d’s blessing can help bring about the desired outcome.

Before you request a blessing to find your bashert, are you ready to be married and love unconditionally? Before you request a blessing to find a job, are you ready to be committed and work hard? Before you request a blessing to have children, are you ready to be a selfless parent? Before you request a blessing to find more faith, are you ready to be vulnerable and grow?

I’ll conclude with another stanza in the song:

I remember that day

When our eyes first met

You ran into the building to get out of the rain

You were soaking wet

And as I held the door

You asked my name

I could've been another minute late

You never would've crossed my path that day

Timing is everything

Thu, June 27 2019 24 Sivan 5779