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The Leaf and The Worm



Last week I was in JFK airport just before 6am For my 7:30am flight to SFO. I got in line for security and stood behind a couple. They were very upset because the TSA PreCheck line had not yet opened for the day. They didn't want to have to stand in the regular security line. It took about 30 minutes to get through security. The TSA PreCheck being closed was the topic of this couples conversation for the entire duration and they were clearly distressed. I wondered what time their flight was and worried that they might miss it. I noted that missing their flight had not been a concern at all and I didn't hear it mentioned. I made it through security and headed to my gate. This couple was on my flight and we waited together at the gate for an hour or so until boarding our flight.


I found it amusing to think about this couple but I also knew that not too long ago I would have had a very similar reaction to being in their situation. This really applies to any circumstance which is out of our control but contradicts what we had planned. Some of my top culprits are sitting in unexpected traffic, long wait times for an appointment, cancellations and others of this sort.


What I've come to learn is that the suffering doesn't come from things not going as planned. The suffering comes from resisting what the reality is because we think it should be otherwise. Our thoughts that say "this shouldn't be happening, this shouldn't be taking so long" or anything of this sort is what keeps us stuck and unable to flow with what is. Although action or a solution may be required, it is much more effective after we've accepted what is.


The concept of Divine Providence has long been held in Jewish tradition, but it was spread through the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov in the 17th century.


One day as the Baal Shem Tov was walking through the forest with his students, he pointed out a leaf that had just blown off of a tree floating down to rest on the sun-parched dirt road. He told his students that this leaf falling off the tree at this particular time and landing in this specific place was orchestrated by God.


He asked his students to lift the leaf off the ground and there was a worm dying in the summer heat; the fallen leaf had given it back its life, providing comfort and protection from the sun.


Hashgacha Pratis in Hebrew or divine providence in English is the teaching that every thing that happens in this world is divinely ordained for a specific purpose. In this belief, nothing is random, even the falling of a leaf from a tree is for a specific purpose.


So whether it's a slow moving security line, traffic or anything beyond my control including things that are a lot more serious than these examples I'm exactly where I'm meant to be. When I stop fighting it, I can relax into it and move with G-d's plan with a sense of peace and trust.

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