Birchos HaShachar: Who Firms Man’s Footsteps

המכין מצעדי גבר
…Who firms man’s footsteps.

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Some people unfortunately cannot walk or take steps.  If we can walk and even walk briskly without aids of any sort, we are very fortunate.  This is the brachah to gain greater awareness and appreciation of our good fortune and to express our gratitude to Hashem.

This brachah can also become a significant daily strengthening of our bitachon.  Whatever situation we find ourselves in during the day, Hashem has put us there for our benefit and growth (assuming we have not acted inappropriately).

HaRav Avigdor Miller zt”l speaks about the well-known p’sukim in Koheles that state “עת–eis” for this and “eis” for that.  Everything has its time.  HaRav Miller points out that the basic understanding is that when we are in a particular time period, we must be focused on the essence of that period and not be distracted.  If one is at a funeral, it is not the time to catch up with our old friends whom we haven’t seen for a while.  It is a time to give honor to the deceased and comfort the family by our presence.  It is a moment to reflect on our temporary, limited time in this world and the great opportunities we have to utilize each and every precious and priceless minute to fulfill our purpose in this world.

But HaRav Miller points out that there is a deeper understanding, as well.  We may wish to serve Hashem in a given way that we feel is best for various reasons.  We may wish to provide for others, perform acts of chesed, teach Torah, give significant funds to tz’dakah, etc.  Hashem may give us these privileges at times; but at other times, He may want us to be involved in a major home repair, time-consuming family matters, extraordinary work situations that require greater focus and time commitments, or be involved in medical matters.

Our day can and typically does move from one “eis” to another.  These are the “itim” of our lives.  The key to bitachon, peace of mind, and serving Hashem with joy is to view each and every eis as an opportunity and not a burden.  If Hashem is putting us in a situation and is not allowing us at the current time to do what we believe is best, then despite our noble intentions and desires, we must recognize that He knows best.  Right now, Hashem is telling us: Trust Me – you need this right now; you can grow from this eis right now more than you can from the noble deed or mitzvah that you wanted to do.

If we think about this and can begin to implement this mindset, it can change our lives.

We will be thinking about Hashem throughout the day.  Awareness of Hashem and bitachon are amongst the main purposes that we are alive.  By accepting the eis we are in right now as the best possible way to serve Hashem at this moment, we are, in effect, giving up our desire and saying to Hashem: I only want to do Your will, not mine.  We are, so to speak, becoming one with Hashem.

HaRav Yerucham Levovitz zt”l states that it is possible for one to think that he is serving Hashem but, in fact, he is serving himself.  We decided that this is the way to serve Hashem and we don’t understand why Hashem is blocking us.  (“I only want to do this for Hashem.  Why is He blocking me?”)  But if we can accept with joy that right now – at this point in time – Hashem is giving me a different eis – a different opportunity that I need for my growth right now (while at the same time continuing to daven and put forth efforts to accomplish in the area we feel is best) – then we will be happier, calmer, have greater peace of mind, and feel accomplished and fulfilled just by our acceptance.

As we can see, this brachah contains much to contemplate and appreciate.  We can prepare ourselves for the “itim” that Hashem will lead us to today – for our growth and benefit.