Let us now try to identify some — only a few! — of the everyday nisyonos which test and challenge us, as per Ramchal. (These are scenarios where you, the reader, knows what should be done, but finds it hard to do — it is a nisayon, not a scenario for sheilos; of course, sometimes the nisayon is to make sure to ask a sheilah.)
Your neighbor is forever “borrowing” things from you: some bread, a little milk, a bag of sugar… yet she never seems to remember to return anything. Do you say something? Or stop lending? Do the same to her? Complain about her to your husband, or your best friend?
You’re sitting in a traffic jam or doctor’s office… standing on line at the checkout, and the person in front of you has 11 items, not 10, the checkout girl apparently flunked sixth grade math … that clerk in Misrad Hapnim sweetly informs you that you do not have the correct form. How do you react? What do you say to those involved? To yourself? Does Hashem care about what you are thinking?
You stayed home to wait for that technai, kablan, delivery person… he doesn’t come. Worse, he came when you finally left, hours later, in frustration. Reaction?
It’s bedtime, and you’re doing what mothers do at bedtime. And then, in the middle of it all, you get a phone call from that nudnik, although you told her never to call you between 7 and 9 p.m., but she needs to tell you about her day…
Your in-laws ignore your pleas, and when the kids are with them, let them watch television or videos that you wouldn’t allow… Yet they (the in-laws) always seem so hurt when you press the issue… Or maybe it’s that candy! How much respect do you have to show them when they’re the ones weakening your parental authority?
You tell your guests that kiddush is at 11 a.m. sharp, and you gave them exact directions. It’s 11:23 a.m., the kids are cranky… and no guests in sight.
You come home from shul on leil Shabbos, and for the 159th time in a row (or does it only seem that way?) the table is not set, the challos are not out, the wine is not on the table… and she wants me to sing Aishes Chayil?
You finally bought those tickets to the U. S., and they are now non-refundable. Two days before the flight, a friend is caught up in a real crisis, and literally has no one here to rely on but you…
Why didn’t I ever get around to learning the simple, basic, meaning of the first brachah of the Shemonah Esrai? Do I remember correctly — did Rav Malinowitz once say that you are not yotzei? Oy, why don’t I listen when he speaks?!
Do I really, truly believe in Hashem? Do I think about how He sees all, knows all, and cares about how I act? What about that lashon hora, didn’t I realize HE was listening to me… Why did I lie about how old my child is? Why did I lend my friend my non-transferable bus pass? Why did I get depressed over that missed appointment? Do I ever take the time to ask Hashem to let me succeed? That other fellow got the job I interviewed for; honestly, why do I feel as if he took something away from me that was rightfully mine?
You’re in the airport, you’re hungry, craving something to eat, and the only snack bar has a hechsher that you normally would not think of using. No one’s looking, no one will know. What could be wrong with this plain cookie? And it does have a hechsher…
You are traveling on the highway, and someone is stopped on the side of the road… maybe a flat tire (you have the equipment to help), maybe battery trouble (you have cables), maybe something you can do nothing about. Do you stop to find out?
Your friend asks you to loan him 500 shekels for a week. You could, but you’re somewhat nervous, and you don’t want to “insult” him by asking for a guarantor; your natural inclination is to say you don’t have it, you can’t…
You owe the kablan money; it’s past the time that was agreed upon by which you would pay him the second third of the money. Yet you are not so happy with the way the wall looks, although he did what you asked of him…
Do you ever sample candy or dried fruit from an open bin? Are you sure the storeowner doesn’t mind? Why are you hesitant to ask him?
You’ve been trying for the longest time to sell some used furniture, to raise much-needed cash. Do you point out the defects? Did you ask a rav if you have to, or which kind you do have to and which kind you don’t?
You wanted — needed — to borrow $20,000 from a friend. He lent you what he said he was able to, $15,000. Do you feel resentment? How absurd is that?
You were let go when your company downsized. Are you devastated? Embittered? Morose? Do you feel gratitude to the company which, after all, employed you until now? WHAT? You’re kidding, right?
In Part One, we cited the commentary on Avos which says that Avraham Avinu’s nisyonos encompass all of life’s trials. Am I ready to be moser nefesh, if not to the point of martyrdom, just to lose significant money in order not to violate an issur Torah? (The halachah demands losing ALL your money in such a case.) It’s a question of emunah, mesirus nefesh, no? Avraham starts his journey into Eretz Yisroel, leaving behind friends, family, leaving his and Sarah’s successes in ruchniyus (v’es hanefesh asher asu…). They travel, they arrive, they’re there. No parnassa. Hunger, famine! What does Hashem want from me? I went to extraordinary lengths to fulfill His will, and this is my reward? How can I face all those who mocked me for coming?
Of course, parnassa in and of itself constitutes an enormous nisayon of bitachon, of emunah…
All tribulations in life: having children, chinuch, suffering, yissurim, shalom bayis, keeping seemingly incomprehensible mitzvos… it’s all there in Avraham’s ten, and we, his children, live a life of nisyonos as well.
To be continued…
Rav Malinowitz is the Rav of Beis Tefillah Yonah Avraham, located in Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph, at the corner of Nachal Refaim and Nachal Luz. Many of Rav Malinowitz’s shiurim can be heard at www.btya.org.