Many Roads, One Destination

Written by Rabbi Yehoshua Alt, 3/12/2019

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Many Roads, One Destination

There is plenty of variety in Judaism that many take advantage of. These include attending a Chassidish Tisch, learning Chassidus, joining a Kabbalas Shabbos with lots of singing, the analytical Brisker way of learning, Rosh Hashana in Uman and so on. How can we know for ourselves what to take part in?

 

The answer is that if something brings us close to Hashem, then we can pursue it. This is hinted to inואני קרבת אלה-ים לי טוב[1]—if it brings us close to Hashem, then it is good.  

 

                There is no one way in Avodas Hashem. For this reason, there are so many different factions within Judaism—Sefardim, Chassidim, Litvaks and so on. Even within these there are various groups. Within Sefardim there are Yemenites, Moroccans among many others. Likewise among Chassidim, there are many groups—Ger, Viznitz, Breslov, and Skver to name just a few. Then there are those that comprise themselves from some or all of these.

 

One way is not more correct than the other rather one must choose that which brings him close to Hashem. A way to comprehend this is that just as there are many ways, for example, to get to the number 19—11 added to 8, 14 and 5, 10 and 9 and so on. Similarly, there are many paths in Avodas Hashem. Another way to understand this is when one drives for instance from New York to Los Angeles there are many different routes to take to reach the destination. Likewise, the same is with Avodas Hashem. This idea is hinted to in זה שער השמים,[2] this is the gate of the heavens, as זה has a Gematria of 12, alluding to the 12 Shevatim. Each Shevet as well as each person has their own path to reach the gates of heaven!

 

                Why is it that different people have different paths in serving Hashem? There are 600,000 letters in the Torah and 600,000 Neshamos in Klal Yisrael.[3] The placement of where one’s letter is in the Sefer Torah is why each person is attracted to different aspects—Chassidus, singing, Halacha and so on.

 

When we look at a cake, we may not know the ingredients it consists of. However, upon tasting it, we realize how much flour is in it, the amount of sugar it contains and so on. The same applies to our Avodas Hashem as once we taste it, we can know what we need at which time (Tefila, Chassidus, Halacha, Gemara, a break), how much we need as well as what and how much is missing.

Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

[1] Tehillim 73:28. We can also apply this to other aspects of life. Talking to a friend before one learns or eating good food to help one get into a better mood also may be the right thing to do. The way to determine this is to evaluate if it will bring us closer to Hashem. Will I be able to serve Hashem better if I do this?

[2] Breishis 28:17. See Magen Avraham, Orach Chaim, 68.

[3] This is hinted to in ישראליש ששים רבוא אותיות לתורה, there are 600,000 letters in the Sefer Torah. 




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