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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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What does it mean to find one’s destiny?

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When couples used to get married in the “old country” people would say they met their bashert, their intended one. One can still hear that phrase in the religious community. Matchmakers are famous for promising to find one’s bashert. Whether with help or on one’s own, finding the right person is certainly difficult. There are so many challenges to couples and to family life today that being assured that one’s partner is one’s destiny is of tremendous value.

What does it really mean to find one’s destiny?

I suppose it’s considered ideal. It sure sounds good. This seems like a good season to reflect on what it actually means to find or rely on one’s destiny.

Once you find a path that you feel is your destiny, do you stop working or worrying? Do you stop doubting? Do you never change paths?

If you find a job that fits and appears to be your destiny, you still have to work at it. Destiny doesn’t mean no sweat. It also doesn’t mean no doubts or changes. You may fit this particular task or skill set at this time, but not for all time. If we look at marriages, we might make similar observations. Even if you met your bashert, it may not be for all time, although we hope it is. But Judaism knows of divorce and allows for it. You must work hard to make a successful marriage, even with destiny on your side. And still it may not succeed. Thus, we say, if it isn’t working out, get a divorce and start looking for a new destiny.

That is our life, and this is the message of our religion, too. If we understand destiny to be God’s hand operating in our lives, then we must see it through all the twists and turns of life. God doesn’t promise permanency. If we find someone to marry and say he or she is my bashert, that’s the one God intended for me. But you still have to work at the marriage. One can’t sit back and say, “OK God, make it work!” And if the relationship falls apart, no matter how good the beginning, nor how blessed, God’s Judaism teaches us to get a divorce and start again.

That’s our take on destiny, on God’s hand in our lives. It gives us a start, but we must work at it and carry it through. We can’t avoid serious work. In every aspect of our lives, in human relationships as much as in daily living, we’re charged with active effort. We must work in some capacity six days a week and rest only on the seventh. That is our destiny as God’s creatures. Not to let others work so we can rest or study all our lives. The command to work is very clear in Genesis.

Many pray to God for improvement in their lives. I do, too. But I know that while my destiny may be in God’s hand, if I don’t do something about it, nothing will happen. How complex. Both human action and Godly intent are necessary. I always think of the joke of someone drowning and demanding of God in heaven, “Why didn’t you save me?” God’s answer: “I sent you a team of saviours with boats, but you refused, saying you were waiting for God!”

There are some religious Zionists who are opposed to the State of Israel. All agree that it’s our destiny to have Zion. They claim we have to wait for God to act. (You can see where I’m going.) But God’s intent is difficult to discern. The opportunity presented itself in the form of a UN vote and other world agencies agreeing with the concept of a Jewish state. They were like the above saviours and boats. Was this our destiny, our time to declare a state and work toward the reality? Obviously the majority of the Jewish world, including the majority of religious Jews, believed that the time was suitable for the creation of a political entity.

Timing coupled with human exertion and emanating out of human trauma resulted in achievement. Israel exists because of the struggle of the Israeli people and the support of the Jewish people worldwide. That is our destiny. Many of us feel the hand of God.

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