Lessons Learned on the Road - 2023 Edition

Friday, 21 April, 2023 - 12:21 am

Longtime readers of this column recall that over the years I have shared adventures of our family’s road trips and the lessons we learned from them. For some examples, see, and,

For those of you wondering, our annual trek to New York for Pesach went smoothly without incident, thank G-d. However even when things go well, being in a confined space with your family for 30 hours, affords one the ability to learn a thing or two about life. 

On our way up to New York before the holiday, we were driving for a few hours when our one-year-old son Shneur began to wail. Malkie made him a bottle and passed it back to be given to him. For a moment or two he was quiet, but then he started fussing again. Clearly there was something dissatisfying about the bottle. So she asked that the bottle be passed back up to the front seat so she can examine it and see what was wrong. As soon as it was taken from him, his cries reached ear-splitting decibels. Malkie identified the issue. There is a mechanism in the bottle that prevents dripping which was not installed properly, and it was preventing the liquid from coming through to his mouth. She fixed it and passed it back, and all was well and quiet. 

All of this was taking place as I am driving. Being slightly detached from the goings on gave me the ability to consider what happened and make an observation. If only Shneur had the sense to realize that his mother took the bottle away so as to make it better for him, instead of crying he would have been enthusiastically grateful. The problem is that at the age of one, he lacks that discernment. I shared my thoughts with Malkie, and almost simultaneously, we looked at each other and both said, “aren’t we all like that at times.” We both knew that this would be the substance of an upcoming “weekly email.” 

We are all like Shneur in the story at times in our lives. Hashem bestows blessings upon us. Sometimes it seems like the blessings are out of reach and inaccessible. We “cry” and are unhappy about the state of our lives. Then when the blessings are reinstated and become accessible again, we look back and realize that Hashem gave us something far superior than what we thought we had previously. Had we possessed the patience, maturity, and foresight, rather than crying and kvetching, we would have been enthusiastically grateful for the wonderful gift that Hashem was improving for us. 

The expression used in the Talmud is “Gam Zu L’Tovah - This too is for the best.” The Rebbe explains that the message is that the apparent obstacle not only leads to a good outcome, but is itself making things even better in a way that we cannot yet perceive. With the correct attitude we have the ability to not only accept, but embrace what Hashem is doing as being directly for our benefit. 

May all of Hashem’s blessings to each of us be in an open and revealed manner that require neither a magnifying glass nor a degree in philosophy to recognize.

Shabbat Shalom
Mendel Rivkin

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