Last week’s stretch of the week was: Be on the lookout for opportunities to save someone from embarrassment. (Examples: Perhaps a friend is wearing a shirt with the tag sticking out--privately tell them, or help them tuck it in with permission. Or maybe you notice a friend with food on their face after a meal, or hair sticking up that they missed when brushing.) These are all opportunities for you this week to help save a fellow Jew from embarrassment.
כל מאן דעביד רחמנא לטב עביד
Kol Man D'Uvid Rachma'na L'Tav U'vid
Everything Hashem Does Is For The Best
The Torah teaches us to be happy with our lot. This mitzva is found in “The Code of Jewish Law—Shulchan Oruch, Orach Chaim" (230:5) which requires each of us to believe that everything HaShem does is for the very best.
No Matter Your ‘Position’, It’s Probably For The Best
Baseball season arrived, and we stood on the dirt field at Little League practice. I held my glove between my elbow and ribs while I fixed the brim on my baseball cap. Today, we would be given our positions, and Sunday we would play the Red Sox.
“I’m gonna land shortstop, watch and see!” I yelled to Ben, who leaned on his bat like a walking stick.
“And I’m gonna be pitcher, for sure!” he yelled back.
So when Coach Brown called our names and positions, I about choked when I heard the lineup.
“Zach Kahn, second base; Rick Shonefield, outfield; Chuck Edleman, shortstop.”
“What?” I tilted my head and glared at the coach, “outfield?”
I let out a deep breath as my friend came over and patted my back. “Chuckie’s also good for the job.”
“No he’s not!” my voice raised a notch.
“Listen, outfield isn’t bad," my friend whispered just as Coach Brown let out a yell, “And Brad Epstein, pitcher.”
“Yes!” he yelled and ran off to slap a few high fives with the guys.
Meanwhile I couldn’t take my eyes off Chuck Edleman. His lanky body and arms that looked too long for his torso just didn’t fit my image of a shortstop. I felt my stomach tighten as I watched him head toward his position. Suddenly, I couldn’t stand Chuck Edleman, not one bit.
“OK, get into place. We’ve got a practice ahead of us." Coach Brown threw the ball to Chuck, whose long arms reached out and caught the ball on the first try.
Sheer luck, I thought, for a nerdy kid.
I stood in the outfield rolling my eyes. Guys lined up to bat; Joey hit the ball toward Chuck. But Chuck missed it, and it rolled directly toward me. Still being totally upset, I missed it and it landed a foot away.
Zach yelled out, “What’s up with you, Shonefield?”
The rest of the game was pretty much the same, Chuck making great plays and me glaring at him.
That night at dinner, Mom, Dad, Grandma and I sat around the table eating Grandma’s special spaghetti.
“Remember how I was telling you that I was up for a promotion at work two weeks ago?” Dad said, as he stabbed at the thick, slimy noodles. “Well, they promoted my co-worker, Roger Liebman, instead." He let out a deep sigh.
Mom sat silent then said, “That doesn’t seem fair. Haven’t you been there longer?” Dad nodded his head and Grandma looked at Dad.
“I’ll tell you what I learned a long time ago," Grandma said. “Sometimes we think something might be good for us, but in the end only G-d decides what’s best.”
I lifted my head up to hear more.
“I had a friend once who lost her job as a secretary. It happened suddenly and for no reason" Grandma said, looking at Dad. “That next week her best friend’s family hired her as the director of their furniture store.”
“Freaky," I said.
“Wow, I remember that," Dad said.
“So just let G-d decide what is best and be happy with it." Grandma smiled, and Dad thanked her for her words of wisdom.
That next baseball game I was back to my old self.
Story published in the Baltimore Jewish Times, May 29, 2014.
Stretch of the Week:
Think of a situation in your life that you might not be so happy about (maybe your parents said that you can’t sleep over at a friend’s house, or maybe you tried out for the leading part in the play, but your best friend got the role instead of you). Think about your upsetting situation and tell yourself at least one time each day for one week, “Everything Hashem does is only for the good—this situation...is also for my good”). Keep a chart and make a star on every day that you say this.