Rabbi Yaacov Haber's
for the Week
How does the Ribono
Shel Olam decide our destiny for the upcoming year? How does He judge
us? The answer is simple. The same way we judge
A Medrash. Hashem
said to Moshe "Hain Kirvu Yamecho Lamus". Your time has come.
The end of your life is here.
The Hebrew word 'Hain', the commentaries explain, implies finality. Hashem
told Moshe, "You have been praying, arguing and negotiating with me
to extend your life. It is not going to happen. The conversation is
closed. The decision is in. "Hain!" Your time has come. You will
not live to enter the land of Israel."
Moshe cringed at the finality of the statement. "Why do you have to
say 'Hain'? It's so final!"
Hashem responded, "Because you said 'Hain' when describing the
condition of the Jewish people. Way back at the burning bush, when I
originally charged you with the mission of freeing the Jewish people, you
said "Hain lo Yishma lee". The Jewish people will definitely not
listen to me. You were so final about that. I too am final." (Medrash
Moshe Rabeinu passed a life sentence on his people. They will not listen,
period. His psychological assessment was correct. The people of Israel
did not appear to be candidates for redemption. But they did listen.
Moshe did not take into account their ability to change and to grow. He
looked at what they were and he pegged them. That was a mistake. One
can never label someone or freeze them into a slot. Yesterday is not
today, and what I do today is not necessarily the definition of my life.
We certainly do not want G-d to judge us by what we are, we want Him to
look at what we could be. We want Him to tie our destiny to our potential.
If we want that kind of decision from G-d we must stop categorizing
people, stop pigeonholing them and perhaps stop judging them altogether.
The way we judge is the way Hashem judges us.
Yesterday I met a young man who as a child was diagnosed with an alphabet
soup of learning disabilities. His behavior was so unmanageable that after
tremendous agony his parents sent him to a special boarding school in the
Midwest. They received rabbinic decisions allowing them to forego the
child's Kashruth and Shabbos
observance so that he could attend this program. His parents described him
as a "Ben sorer umoreh". But he returned from the program and he
grew up. Today he is a teacher, a baal koray, getting a college degree,
and the apple of his parents' eye. Somehow this child transcended his
We are a society full of labeled boxes, and everyone must fit into one.
It's not even conscious, the moment we meet someone we start processing -
good or bad, rich or poor, frum or not, black hat or kipah srugah, brainy
or slow, generous or miserly, today there is a box for everyone. Once you
put someone in a box it can be so hard for them to crawl out of it. But
it's much worse than that. The last thing we need is for G-d to put us in
a box. We never want G-d to look at us and say, "He or she just can't
In honor of the New Year let us all
take a fresh new look at our children, our friends, the person sitting
next to us, our husbands, our wives, our teachers and our students. Look
at them carefully, look at them with fresh eyes, look at their potential,
exactly the way you want G-d to look at you.
Rabbi Yaacov Haber
Rabbi Haber is the OU's National Director of Jewish Education and
the spiritual leader of the OU's Pardes Program
questions are very welcome
"A tree of life for those who embrace it"
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