“Az es macht zich nisht vi m’vill, miz men vellen vi es macht zich.”
Yiddish has a way of saying things that just don’t sound the same in any other language. This pithy saying means, “If you don’t have what you want, want what you have.” Our Sages explain that things are as Hashem wants them to be, and our task in life is to grow through the circumstances that Hashem places us in. If we spend our days bemoaning what can’t be changed, we can only expect shattered dreams and depressing thoughts.
The Lechovitzer Rebbe, zt”l, used to teach his chassidim, “If your life is not as you will it, adjust your will to your life!” This is not a defeatist attitude. Rather, it is a true path that can bring positive strength even in difficult times. When we internalize that Hashem knows exactly where He wanted us to be placed, we can begin to discover what we are meant to do in our given situation.
Unfortunately, so many people fall into despair because they perceive themselves as being stuck in a rut that has no redeeming features. This is just what our old adversary, the yetzer hara, wants us to feel. He wants us to become so muddled in thoughts of angry despair that we can’t even begin to find any light in our hearts.
King David knew what it was to feel estranged from his environment. There were times when he was belittled and shunned by all. Yet he strove to find Hashem at every juncture, and he left us his beautiful words so that we, too, can take heart. He lived his life for all future generations, and he articulated his feelings so that others could gain from them. Even when stumbling, he gave forth words of Heavenly praise, so that we who would stumble in the future would have those words as a comfort and hope.
David wanted to live through every sort of test. He felt that in this way he would not only grow on a personal level, he would also be giving direction to future generations. In Chapter 26 we read of the disastrous results he faced due to his tempting of Hashem’s plan.
David asked Hashem to test him as our forefathers had been tested. He aspired to their level of spirituality and wanted his beloved people to be able to call on his merit during the Shemoneh Esrei prayer just as we call on the merits of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. He was not ready to accept the level of growth Hashem had placed for him, and he ended up failing his self-requested challenge.
Obviously, this is all far beyond our understanding. However, David left us this kapitel so that even in our lowly state we can gain from his experience.
The Gemara (Avoda Zara 4b) comments that both the sin of Bnei Yisrael with the golden calf and the sin of David in the episode with Batsheva were moral lapses that could not have been expected from them. Rather, they were allowed to sin in order to demonstrate the power of repentance to would-be sinners; both collectively, as seen by Klal Yisrael, and individually, as demonstrated by David.
The psalm begins with David begging to be tested.
Judge me Hashem, for I have walked in my integrity and I have trusted in Hashem. I will not waver. Examine me, Hashem, and test me; refine my mind and my heart. David seeks to be tested so that his heart can become even more refined. Yet although his motive is sincere, he ends up failing. Ours is not to decide what Hashem’s plans are. We must seek refinement wherever we find ourselves, allowing Hashem to lead us further.
For Your kindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth. Who else but David could even ask to be allowed to raise himself to the levels of our forefathers? He suffered so much, yet still viewed everything as kindness.
I have not sat with men of falsehood…and do not associate with those who sin in secret. David lays out his lifestyle before Hashem. He has never followed the pathways of the corrupt, and he has steered clear of those who sin in secret. I will wash my hands in purity, and I will encircle Your altar, Hashem…. Even a hint of wrongdoing was washed from his hands before he allowed himself to feel worthy of encircling Hashem’s altar. Therefore everything seemed in place for perfection and yet he stumbled. Even though he always stayed away from evil and from those who practiced it, and even though he sought out and found Hashem’s kindness throughout difficult times, something went amiss.
The Rebbe Reb Zushe, zt”l, was a renowned tzaddik and brother to the illustrious Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk. He would often say that after 120 years he would not be asked why he wasn’t as great as his brother Elimelech. Rather, he would be taken to task why he wasn’t as great as Zushe could have been.
We are each put into this world for a purpose, and it is our responsibility to figure out what that purpose is rather than become entangled with the unique tasks of others. Reb Zushe never lost a moment worrying why he wasn’t reaching levels that were his brother’s. His only fear was that he wouldn’t come to the level that Hashem had marked out for him.
This chapter describes what happens when someone seeks what wasn’t meant for him to find. David sought the spirituality of another age, and that was not part of Hashem’s plan for him. Yet despite this failure, David does not despair. He sings out, to make myself heard in a voice of thanksgiving and tell of all Your wonders. Yes, I fell, but in that fall I want everyone to hear my voice of thanks. All the wonders that are Hashem’s overwhelm me even at this moment of failure.
Hashem, I love the dwelling of Your House and the place where Your glory resides. Never despair, Yidden! You may fall, but if you love the dwelling- place of Hashem, that warm pleasant place within your soul, you will find hope and comfort.
Gather not my soul with sinners nor my life with men of blood. Rav Nachman of Breslov used to say, “If you believe you can ruin something, you must also believe you can fix it.” David is telling us we must never despair. Even if we ruin things spiritually, we must believe we can change things and correct our ways. Don’t give up.
As for me, I will walk in my integrity. Redeem me and favor me. This is such an uplifting message. It brings such hope! Even when we fail, we can lift ourselves up and find a heart that is whole and redeemed.
My dear readers, sometimes these words of David literally lift one from the words themselves. We often find ourselves in a quandary: How can I feel worthy when I don’t feel able to reach the levels of those about me? David gives us insight. He, too, sought things that weren’t meant for him. Yet although he tripped, he did not lose sight of what was paramount the altar of Hashem. Even more, he focused on this truth and redeemed himself through his prayers.
David’s message is eternal. If you feel you have ruined something, then trust in Hashem that you can fix it as well. Just don’t give up. Furthermore, we live in homogenized times where everything has a sort of sameness to it. We seem to feel we must all look alike, dress alike and even think alike. This can’t be the road to one’s self-truth! We weren’t created to all be the same person. Rather, find out who you are meant to be, and don’t fail by trying to be someone else.
Text Copyright © 2007 by Torah.org.