Deja Vu Minyan

Friday, 7 February, 2020 - 3:15 pm

A number of years ago I had an interesting episode where I ended up in Frankfurt after being twice rerouted due to weather and mechanical issues on a trip to Israel. I wasn’t supposed to be there, but ended up being able to help someone who needed a Minyan for his mother’s Yohrtzeit. For once,  I understood why I had to experience a flight cancelation and delay. You can read my story here.

Most of the time we do not understand delays, cancelations and plan changes in our life, travel, work, education or anything else. We have no idea why things can’t just go smoothly as we planned them; we get frustrated and we seldom understand the reason for the failure pf our perfectly orchestrated plans.

The believer clearly knows that Hashem puts him or her where they need to be at the very moment they need to be there in order to accomplish something He needs from us. This is a fundamental belief in our Jewish faith and the foundation of the mystical service that the Kabbalah calls “Birurim – elevations”. There are G-dly sparks of energy scattered throughout the world and they need a specific soul to perform a specific Mitzvah at that location. When we need to be somewhere or do something at a certain time and place, G-d conveniently changes our plans so our soul’s purpose can be fulfilled. Rarely do we get to see what it was we needed to do there, most of the time we just have to believe there was a reason for this change.

I flew to New York on Wednesday to spend a day in prayer at the Rebbe’s holy resting place on the day that marked seventy years of his leadership. It was inspiring to mark this special day with thousands of fellow Chasidim and Jews who admire the Rebbe’s work. There were so many people there - that it took me less time to get from Arkansas to NY than it did to get from the end of the line into the chamber of the Rebbe’s Ohel – resting place. Read about the day here.

On Thursday afternoon, before returning to Arkansas, I visited a friend in Manhattan and our conversation drifted to our reaction to travel delays and of course I shared with him the story of my unexpected stopover in Frankfurt, one of the favorite stories that I like to share. I explained that the Rebbe’s message to each and every Jew was to recognize that whatever situation we find ourselves in, we know that there is something Hashem wants from us at that moment and in that place. Since only “I” can do it, G-d puts me where He needs me. With that awareness, we can stay calm even in front of the most unexpected changes.

Later that evening, as I’m sitting in LGA's terminal B, it was “Déjà vu all over again”. My flight to Arkansas gets delayed for two hours and a few minutes later someone approaches me and asks if I can help him put together a Minyan.

I’ve flown through LGA dozens of times and never did I get that request, and while being a pro at minyan-organizing in XNA I never did one in LGA.

Then I remembered my conversation earlier that day and the Rebbe’s call to recognize that Hashem puts you somewhere so you can help another Jew. So I said “Sure. Let me see what I can do” and fifteen minutes later, we had a Minyan at gate C-12.

I wish I can tell you that I pondered the meaning of this during the entire flight back, but I didn’t. I was so tired from the late-night ‘farbrengen’ we had the previous night in 770 – the Rebbe’s shul, that I uncharacteristically slept almost the entire way back.

However, it was sweet to once again appreciate the spiritual message behind a flight delay and I hope Hashem is proud of me for recognizing that I was delayed in order to help out another person. I hope that you too will be inspired to realize that Hashem has a plan for us, every day and in every move whether we planned it or not.

Gut Shabbos,

Rabbi Mendel Greisman

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