In Sefer T’hilim (95:7), it says, “Today, if you hear His Voice.” What does it mean in a practical sense to “hear” Hashem’s Voice? What exactly are we supposed to be listening for?
Hashem speaks to us all the time, and part of our work in the world is to attune ourselves to this “silent, thin Voice.” In Maseches Avodah Zarah [18a] we find the following passage:
“Rabbi Chaninah ben Tradyon asked Rabbi Yossi ben Kisma: ‘Am I destined to go to Olam HaBa [the World to Come]?’ Rabbi Yossi ben Kisma responded, ‘Did you ever do anything special?’ Rabbi Chaninah ben Tradyon said to him: ‘I confused my own coins [that I needed for the meal] of Purim with coins of tz’dakah (charity), and I distributed them all to the poor [at my own expense].’ Rabbi Yossi ben Kisma said to him: ‘If that is so, may my portion be of your portion, and may my lot be of your lot!’”
Rabbi Yissocher Frand brings a beautiful interpretation of this passage. Rabbi Chaninah ben Tradyon saw in this incident that the Ribbono shel Olam was trying to send him a message: The money he had set aside for his Purim meal should be given to tz’dakah instead. Rabbi Chaninah was so sensitive and receptive to Heavenly messages that even in such a small inconvenience he recognized that Hashem was trying to speak to him.
Rabbi Yossi said, “If that is the case – if in such a small little incident you can “hear” the Voice of Hashem – then I know you are destined for the World to Come. It’s obvious that you live your life in such a way that when Hashem merely “taps you on the shoulder,” you acknowledge it and take the message.
It is a fundamental idea in chasidus, as taught by the Baal Shem Tov, that there is no such thing as a coincidence in this world. Every single event, from big to small, that we personally experience, is a Heaven-sent message, designed specifically for us and our unique tafkid (role) in the world.
Even more, according to the Baal Shem Tov, whatever we see in the world is really a reflection in some way of ourselves. So, if I see someone struggling with a negative character trait, then that means that I possess that very same trait, too (even if I may express it differently).
And, it works the other way, as well. Whenever I see or hear about someone doing something positive, whether towards me or another individual, then this, too, is giving me important information about myself – especially if it made an impact on me.
We need to try our best to analyze instances in our day and figure out what Hashem wants. Hashem speaks to us through the experiences that we have – both externally and internally – and we are required (each individual according to his or her level) to give some thought to the things that catch our attention.
It’s a requirement because being able to hear Hashem’s Voice in our daily lives is the key to our personal kabalas HaTorah, that is, our unique portion in the Torah and the spiritual light that we are meant to receive and reveal to the world. Hashem has set up the world in such a way that true spiritual and emotional growth on any level can only happen with Divine Assistance.
So, whenever something catches our attention – whether it’s a minor discomfort, a significant distress, a thought, or a strong emotion – what’s really happening is that Hashem is saying to us, “I’m over here. Come and find Me!”
(Material was previously published on www.ShiratMiriam.com.)