How the Heck Do You Do This?
I spent the Jewish holidays with friends who are big into brain teasing gadgets of the Rubik's Cube kind. There is always a trick to these toys which is counter intuitive to logic, such as getting a ball out of a hole which is smaller than its circumference or a getting loop over a bar that is double its size. And though I was dead set on entering the New Year by leaving old problems behind, the masochist in me picked up these puzzling and mind boggling new ones that kept me enraptured for hours. What made matters even more frustrating was that others in the household were able to catch onto the trick and unlock these craftily engineered mysteries with ease and facility while I was nearing hysteria saying, “How the heck do you do this?; it’s impossible.” I think I even saw the family dog put his paws over his eyes because she couldn’t take watching me do the same motions over and over again and meet the same unsuccessful end. Finally, I did something I have never really done my whole life. No, I didn’t cheat and bust the games open with a hammer (though it did cross my mind). I just stopped trying to do it on my own and asked my gracious hostess, “How do you do it? What’s the trick?” I believe that there are no coincidences in life. This episode was a symbolic lesson to me that perhaps what I needed to learn this New Year more than anything else was that the solution to untangling old problems once and for all may be to ASK! It happens so often in life that we have an issue we can’t resolve on our own but we keep pulling at it with both hands and instead of unraveling it, we keep tightening the knot. The sweat gathers on our brow but we won’t let it show. After all, we know it all, right? We are smarter than everyone we know, right? No one would understand my problem, right? It has to be my way, right? WRONG! Sometimes we just have to ask and we also have to listen. What point is there to reinvent the wheel when we can benefit from someone else’s wisdom and roll with it? There was no greater imparter of wisdom to the world than Moses. He was privy to the mysteries of the universe, saw God face to face, and was shown the entire panorama of history from the beginning to the coming of the Messiah. And Moses bequeathed to mankind the key to this “gadget” we call life, and that key is the Torah. The question is: Do we want to listen once and for all or keep doing it our way? Our world is growing ever darker and complex. We seem to be caught in an intractable mystery, a haunting labyrinth in which any hopeful pathway is blocked by a dooming encroaching wall upon which we knock our stubborn heads. How we are going to get out of the mess we're in is a brainteaser of the highest order. Did logic get us into it? Will logic get us out? Perhaps the “key” to today’s mysteries is “to listen.” Our blessings and curses are just a breath apart when Moses speaks: “If you do not hearken to the voice of God…all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.” But if we do listen, “God will open for you His storehouse of goodness.” Just as those brain teasing toys come with instructions that facilely extricate an otherwise Gordian knot, so too our lives come with instructions and directions: the Bible. Perhaps it’s time for all of us to start “listening” while God is still whispering--albeit pretty loudly. How many more frequencies will we tune out before we are awakened by a thunderous clang and God asks, “Can you hear me now?”