I don’t actually remember the d’rash from Friday night — but I remember what I took away from it. I’m in a good place, have been for a couple of weeks now, kind of like how I was back around Labor Day and High Holidays. I don’t know how long it will last, but for right now, I have decided I’m putting myself in G-d’s hands. I’m going to try to stop fighting and struggling, and just trust that G-d is leading me on whatever path G-d wants for me. I am hoping / praying / believing that G-d has a plan for me. And if takes me longer than it took others to reach certain places on the path, well, I’m trusting G-d. G-d knows a whole lot more than I do, and maybe G-d thinks I need more time than others do to be ready for wherever this path takes me. If my path is meant to lead me to Boston Boy (who has looked at plane tickets but hasn’t booked anything; we’ve logged at least a dozen hours in total IM/phone/video-chat time), great. If it leads me to the JDate guy in LA I’ve e-mailed with a couple of times, great. If it leads me to the guy my friends are hoping to set me up with at Shabbat lunch this coming week, great. And if it leads me somewhere else completely — that’s great, too.
The d’rash on Shabbat morning was really cool. The rabbi who gave the d’rash said she wanted to focus on a small bit of the text that is often overlooked in favor of the bigger stories (Joseph’s coat, his dreams, being thrown in the pit, sold into slavery and sold again, rising to power, resisting Potiphar’s wife, being thrown in jail, more dreams, etc.). What she focused on was a mere three pesukim (verses) – Gen. 37:15-17, as follows:
15. A man discovered him [Joseph], and behold! — he was wandering in the field; the man asked him, saying, “What do you seek?” 16. And he said, “My brothers do I seek; tell me, please, where they are pasturing.” 17. The man said – “They have journeyed on from here, for I heard them saying, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’ ” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.
This “man” is believed by some commentators to be the angel Gabriel. He plays an important role. His question — “What do you seek?” — is a question we could all ask anyone and everyone we meet. And by telling Joseph how to find what he seeks — that is, where his brothers have gone — he sets into motion all the rest of the Children of Israel’s destiny…if Joseph hadn’t found his brothers, he wouldn’t have been put into the pit; if not for that, he wouldn’t have been taken by the Midianites; if not for that, he wouldn’t have been sold to the Ishmaelites; if not, he wouldn’t have wound up in Egypt; if not, he wouldn’t have saved Egypt from the famine; if not, he wouldn’t have saved his family from the famine; if not, Jacob and the rest of his children wouldn’t have moved to Egypt; if not, the Children of Israel wouldn’t have been enslaved; if not, Moshe wouldn’t have arisen as a leader; if not, the Children of Israel wouldn’t have been redeemed by G-d; if not, there would have been no revelation at Sinai, no Ten Commandments, no wandering through the desert, no deliverance into the Promised Land.
And yet this man, this ish, is given no name in our narrative; and the speculation that he was Gabriel is merely that: speculation. Each of us can play either role in the story. We can encounter people who are our angels, who set us on the right path toward our destinies, even if our interaction with them is brief and seeminly insignificant. And we can encounter others and be their angels; the words we choose to say, the questions we choose to ask, the answers we choose to give can shape the lives of the people with whom we come into contact. In any moment — in every moment — it is possibly that we are acting as the agent of the Divine.
So. For the moment, at least, I am opening myself to G-d’s will. I will try to be aware, be present, be mindful in each moment, lest I miss the sign beckoning me toward my destiny. And I will try, too, to play my part in leading others toward the paths they are meant to travel. Godspeed, all of us.