He Flew in From London for Reasons He’d Never Imagined – Chabad.org

Posted By on December 19, 2020

My cousinsurprised me last week with a visit. The mood on the damp street outside wassurly, and the people I observed from my office window were fighting the rawwind. It was noon on the foggy, drizzly gray day when a knock on my doorstartled me out of my reverie.

I fixed myHe was the last person I expected in the midst of a globalpandemicmask in place as I buzzed the door open. I was accustomed to my cousinsvisiting from near and far, stopping by for a chat whenever they were in town.Levi is a shliach in Edgware,England, and he was the last person I expected in the midst of a globalpandemic, but I was happy to see him.

Welcome, Icalled out. Refined and poised, he entered my office and shed his thick wetcoat slowly.

He settledhimself in the battered leather chair across from my desk as I startedquestioning him. What could have possibly brought you to New York duringCOVID-19? He rested his arms on the sides of the chair as he leaned forward.

Actually,had you asked me that this morning I would have had a completely differentresponse, he responded, his British accent clipped and precise. But over thelast few hours, it became clear to me exactly why I had to travel to New Yorkat this moment in time.

I studied hiseyes, reservoirs of compassion and kindness, as he related to me that therewere several legal documents relating to his wifes immigration that requiredhis attention. Even though they had retained an attorney, he had felt compelledto fly to New York to ensure that they were handled properly. Arriving at thelawyers offices this morning, he had started a casual conversation with thereceptionist because she, too, was British.

Within a fewminutes, she timidly said, Obviously, there is no sign of recognition when youlook at me, Rabbi Sudak, although you are acquainted with my family. I have changedso much in the two years I have been in New York. She proceeded to tearfullyconfess that she was completely despondent and feeling absolutely alone. Shewas estranged from her family, her past way of life and even from Gd, and itwas causing deep sadness within her.

Levi askedher why she did not reconnect with the things she clearly held dear. Whatsholding you back? he inquired.

I am too fargone. You cant even imagine, rabbi. I am so far removed from Gd and fromTorah and mitzvot that there is no going back for me, she cried.

Really?continued Levi. Connectednessis fundamental. It's the key to emotional and physical health." Reluctantly at first, she allowed Levi tomake a few phone calls to shluchim and his own local family members. Somethingsparked within her as she learned that they were ready to immediately embraceher, be there for her and provide her with a warm, loving place to feel welcomeand provide a sense of familiarity.

Now,said Levi, Please indulge me by taking a test to see if whatyou are saying about your alienation from Gd is trueor your own misconception. Letsstart with the Ten Commandments. Well leave the first five commandments, fornow, and begin with the second five that focus on mitzvot between man and man.Commandment No. 6: Have you murdered anyone?

No, ofcourse not, she responded.

Good, Levisaid. Commandment No. 7: Have you committed adultery?

What? No!she exclaimed.

Great, saidLevi.

CommandmentNo. 8: Do you steal?

I wouldnever, she declared.

You aredoing well, said Levi. Commandment No. 9: Have you been a false witness?

No way, sheanswered.

Amazing,said Levi. Commandment No. 10: Are you jealous of what others have?

Never, shecountered.

Excellent.Thats five out of 10 already. Lets go on. Commandment No. 1: Do you believein Gds existence?

Of course!she cried.

Awesome. Youhave already passed the test, said Levi. Commandment No. 2: Do you believe inor follow a different religion?

Never, sheacknowledged.

Perfect,said Levi. Although you said you are completely alienated from mitzvot, youare acing the test with a score of seven out of 10, but lets proceed.Commandment No. 3: Do you desecrate Gds name?

Not at all,she answered.

Eight out of10, said Levi. Lets skip the Fourth Commandment and get back to it in aminute. Commandment No. 5: Do you respect your parents?

Always, sheretorted emotionally.

You haveNot bad for someone divorced from Gd, said Leviscored 90 percent so far. Not bad for someone divorced from Gd, said Levi.Now the Fourth Commandment is to sanctify Shabbat. There are actually 39categories of work prohibited on Shabbat that correspond to the types of workused in the construction and maintenance of the holy Mishkan. So lets divideup scoring for this commandment into 39 parts.

Calmly anddeliberately, Levi went through the 39 works of Shabbat one by one with her.And one by one, she said she did not sow, plow, harvest, thresh, winnow, build,weave, sew, hunt, slaughter, etc. When they were done Levi said, OK, so wecaught you on a few out of the 39, like shopping, carrying and fire. You stillpassed this commandment with a 97 percent score. And the others with a perfectscore. Not bad at all for someone who claimed that she was estranged from Gd.As the Talmud states all Jews are full of mitzvot like a pomegranate is filledwith seeds.

I didntthink of it that way, she said as tears of relief streamed down her cheeks.

Its all a matter of perspective, responded Levi. Whenyou reconsider, you realize that youre actually living a different story thanthe one you told yourself. Moreover, theres nothing more empowering andimportant than knowing that no matter what, in essence, you are pure. Your soulis untainted by anything the world has thrown at you. Being aware of yourcharacter strengths enables you to actualize your potential and find your truehappiness.

Now it is true that we have been given 613 mitzvot,and all are of equal importance simply because they are divinely ordained. Butthe point is not in perfection; its in the trying, in the journey, in thediscoveries, in the process and in the continuous becoming. Every person is unique and every situation is unique.Focusing on our personal weaknesses just leaves us with a faulty sense of whowe are and who we can become. Byrealizing our innate connection with Gd, on the other hand, we gain theability to embrace our identity.

The Baal Shem Tov taught that every single Jew is compared to a desired land becauseinside lies precious stones and diamonds, wellsprings and treasure. One needonly dig a little, and he or she will immediately find these precious stones,these wellsprings.

Levi turnedto me before leaving. We exchanged contact information and resolved to keep intouch, he concluded. Mans steps are established by Gd.Divine Providence led me to travel to exactly the place where I needed to betoday to perform my mission wherever our feet tread, we are emissaries ofGd, each one of us.

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He Flew in From London for Reasons He'd Never Imagined - Chabad.org

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