Sixty Special Minutes
by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
Imagine you are late for an important appointment. You get into the car and get stuck in an unexpected traffic jam for over an hour. To top it off your phone battery dies and you cannot contact anyone. You miss your appointment and you have nothing with you in the car to keep you busy for the next hour. You just feel miserable.
Moments like these are the most stressful and frustrating. However, with the right perspective we can transform this tense and frustrating hour into an inspiring and liberating experience.
To achieve this we need to consider two ideas. Firstly, it is a foundation of Jewish belief that we are not in control of anything. While we should plan responsibly, G-d might have a very different outcome in mind. Every detail of the universe and its development is Divinely designed.
The one part of the universe that G-d handed over to the human being to fully control is ourselves. We cannot change a Divinely planned experience, but we can control our response to that situation. We cannot predict what people will say or do to us, but we can control our reaction toward them. We can choose to become angry or stay calm. We can choose to become aggressive or to respond with respect. We can choose to become upset or to remain upbeat. This ability to make these decisions is a special gift given by G-d only to human beings.
The second point to consider is clarity of mission. Many of us struggle with the direction we should take. Although the Torah provides us with a moral code and a guide for daily living, the specific path that will bring us fulfilment can still be something that we grapple with. Sometimes we wish there would be a heavenly voice telling us exactly what to do and where to go.
It might not happen often, but there are in fact times when we can tune in to a clear Divine announcement. That hour that you get stuck in the car is one of them. If we accept that everything that happens to us is Divinely orchestrated, then for that one hour G-d's message is loud and clear:
"You were meant to be stuck in this traffic jam. There is nothing you can do and no one you can speak to. There is only one thing you can do for the next sixty minutes: keep calm and exercise your one uniquely human choice - not to get upset or angry. Doing this will be an amazing exercise in becoming a better and more refined person - I wish you success."
What an amazing moment and powerful opportunity. Don't waste it.