Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim – Associate Rosh Yeshiva – PTI – Passaic Torah Institute – Parsha Shelach – Fulfilling Hashem’s Mission

Last year, I received an invitation to the wedding of Shmaryahu Shulman to Mika BenArbon. Shmaryahu had learned in my shiur two years before, for a few weeks during the summer. After that, he learned full-time in other yeshivos, and occasionally we’d bump into each other. I wanted to go to his wedding, but the Lakewood venue meant a long drive. I was on the fence. A few weeks later at a bris, I saw Shmaryahu, who came over to me and introduced me to his kallah, Mika. They both asked me about coming to the wedding. The next week, I got a text message with an additional wedding invitation. It was clear now… I must attend this wedding!

Meanwhile, my daughter Aviva was set up on a shidduch to Yosef Keilson. They had gone out many times and it was getting serious. Aviva mentioned that for their next meeting, Yosef asked if she would like to hear him sing at a chuppah in Lakewood, and afterward they would go on their date. I told Aviva, “I’m going to a wedding that same night in Lakewood, so I could drive you!” Well, you guessed it. We were going to the same wedding! Divine Providence was on overdrive…

That special Lakewood wedding took place on Parshas Shelach, which discusses the mission of the meraglim (spies) and the journey of Bnei Yisrael. The opening midrash in Shelach equates the mission of the spies to someone embarking on a journey. The Sfas Emes quotes the Chiddushei HaRim, who says the word “shelach” means to “send on a journey/mission.” Every person has a shlichus—a mission—from Hashem with which he/she is sent to this world. If we live our lives with an important goal in mind, we have the status of shluchei mitzvah—agents to perform a mitzvah—who receive a measure of protection, as the Gemara says, “Shluchei mitzvah einan nizakin”—people on the way to perform a mitzvah are protected from harm.

The Sfas Emes explains the mission of the spies in this context. Klal Yisrael, on their own initiative, approached Moshe to send spies to scout out Eretz Yisrael. Not a good sign. Although Hashem saw the impending disaster, He told Moshe to go ahead and send the spies. Since the order came from Hashem, the spies would be agents of Hashem enroute to perform a mitzvah, so they would be protected from the error of giving a bad report. However, they had to carry out their mission as agents of Hashem, not agents of the people. This was the mistake of the ten spies. Only Yehoshua and Calev saw themselves as agents of Hashem. Only they merited protection from following the bad counsel of the other ten spies.

My trip to this wedding was clearly a mission from Hashem. At the chuppah, there was a card on each guest’s seat, written by the chasan. It read, “As we sit at the chuppah tonight, we have a quiet opportunity to reflect over the past year how many changes in the fabric of our lives have occurred…” The card listed various world events and continued, “There has been a song playing in my mind for the past few months, as various tragedies happened to our family… As we struggled again and again to use our limited minds to understand Hashem’s plan, I am reminded that although I do not understand the plan, that doesn’t mean there is not a plan. Ani ma’amin—I trust fully—that Hashem has created the world, oversees the world, and oversees each person individually. On this program there are no individual names of people listed who will be walking down the aisle. We are all walkers tonight. We are all on the same journey. Each of us is playing his or her role based on the script that Hashem has written and designed for us. My heartfelt wish now is that we all use this time as introspective moments to ask Hashem for help; not to try to understand Hashem’s plan, but rather to be blessed with guidance to understand how to navigate our personal journeys, as the chasan and kallah begin theirs.”

When my daughter came home that night, she told my wife and I that she was ready to get engaged to Yosef! Hashem sent very strong messages to get me to that wedding and to learn the lesson that Hashem is directing our lives, including sending us places, all the time.

May Hashem bless us to realize that we are all walkers, on our personal journeys, playing our roles based on the script which Hashem wrote for each of us.