By Rabbi Yossy Goldman
All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you.
Can we prepare for a blessing? Can one plan to be blessed? Obviously, we believe that when we live life as G‑d intended us to, we will find our lives blessed in many ways. Even if we do not always see the results tangibly or immediately, we certainly are aware of many blessings that come with the territory of leading a Godly life.
But there is a verse in our parashah that promises us blessings we never even dreamed of. “If you will listen to the voice of Hashem . . . and observe the commandments . . . then G‑d will make you supreme over all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you.”
What does it mean that blessings will overtake you? Rabbi Ovadia Sforno, one of the classical Biblical commentators, suggests that it means you will be blessed even when you made no effort to seek those blessings. It will come out of the blue, an unexpected windfall.
The story is told of the saintly Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev that he once saw a young man running down the street. The rav stopped him and asked, “Where are you running?” The fellow answered, “To make a living, Rabbi.” To which the Berditchever responded, “So how do you know that your living lies in that direction? Perhaps your livelihood is to be found in the opposite direction?”
Do we ever know for sure? How often do the best-laid plans of mice and men come to naught? Haven’t we all had the experience of trying our hardest to do a deal with all the planning, strategizing, blood, sweat, and tears and yet nothing whatsoever materialized? And on the other hand, there may have been times when we put no work into it at all, and suddenly from nowhere we landed the deal of the year! The truth is, we don’t know where the blessing of our livelihood lies.
And so it is with spiritual blessings. There are times when we make the effort and remain uninspired, and there are times when we become inspired effortlessly. According to the Baal Shem Tov, our unconscious soul may hear something on a higher plane, and when it filters down to our conscious soul, we are touched, moved, or inspired.
We live in an era of much confusion. Many are lost, floundering in spiritual wildernesses. But many are finding themselves, too. There have been many who didn’t necessarily go looking for G‑d, but G‑d found them.
“How did you get inspired?”
“To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure. I was minding my own business, and I bumped into this rabbi.” Or, “I was sitting next to this fellow on the plane . . .” Or, “I was just a tourist at the Western Wall, but something moved me.”
Everybody has a story. In some stories we went looking for G‑d, and in others He came looking for us.
So if you feel the spirit overtaking you, don’t speed up. Slow down. Let it catch up with you. May the blessings of G‑d overtake you and transform your life.
Rabbi Yossy Goldman was born in Brooklyn and was sent in 1976 by the Lubavitcher Rebbe as an emissary to serve the Jewish community of Johannesburg, South Africa. He is Senior Rabbi of the Sydenham Shul and president of the South African Rabbinical Association.