I was planning to write an article on Sunday night concerning the first part of the Mueller report, including responding to Jared Kushner’s ridiculous comment that the Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election was limited to a few Facebook ads. However, something happened on Sunday night that resulted in my changing the article.
Although we don’t know what is in G-d’s plan about why certain things occur, it is helpful to try to figure it out if it will lead to a change of conduct.
On Sunday, April 25, 2019, I participated in the Tour de Staten Island, which is a bike ride covering portions of the county. I did the 50-mile route. The weather was awful. It was cold and rainy. Most of the route is on a road that the rider shares with motor vehicles. Not only is rain uncomfortable to ride in, it makes the ride more dangerous because it makes the road slick. Nevertheless, the ride was uneventful in a good way.
That same night I was walking down the steps of a shul and took one bad step. My ankle twisted and I fell on the floor. I thought I may have broken a bone in the foot or in the ankle. On Monday I went to the podiatrist and had X-rays taken. Fortunately, it was not broken but I have a severe sprain. I was told I cannot ride a bike at all or walk more than short distances for a few weeks. It could have been worse. I know of a few people who have broken bones under similar circumstances.
If this had happened in January I would not have minded so much. However, on Thursday I was planning to ride in Albany after a meeting. Next Sunday is the Five Boro Bike Tour. I had signed up as a volunteer like I had done the past few years and had gotten a prime location. I would have been able to have ridden most of the course. Also, I was looking forward to these rides and other rides to lose the excess weight I gained in the winter.
The Talmud in Chulin 7b quotes Rabbi Chanina who says that a person does not stub his toe below (in this world) unless it is decreed upon him from Above. The Artscroll Gemara cites the Me’iri who explains that it is decreed that he should injure himself for his misdeeds and to receive atonement for them.
I thought about why this happened. Someone said to me, not necessarily totally serious, that it was due to my lack of fervor in my prayers. I have a different related answer.
I spent a lot of time planning for the bike ride. I checked the bike and put air in the tires. I put the bike and other equipment in the vehicle Saturday night so I would be ready to leave early Sunday morning. I checked the weather and prepared clothes based on it. I had everything ready and placed my identification and other necessary cards or funds in the clothes I was going to wear while riding.
Since I wanted to do the 50-mile ride I had to make the 7:30 a.m. Staten Island ferry. I checked the time of sunrise and then calculated when the neitz minyan would start and finish. I also planned where to park in Brooklyn. I planned to leave by 6:30 a.m. and did so. I got a spot right away in Brooklyn and made it to the ferry at approximately 7:15 a.m.
In contrast, when it came to davening Minchah I had not checked on Saturday the time for Minchah for the upcoming week. I did not check on Sunday afternoon even though the shul was open part of the time. Instead I guessed when services would begin. I was wrong by five minutes. I realized that when I looked in the window while walking down. I fell immediately when I noticed I was late.
What was the message? To me it was that I spent so much time and effort planning for a bike ride and could not even bother to find out the correct time for prayer. It showed my priorities. So, what happened? I incurred an injury that affects my ability to engage in bike riding.
It is G-d telling me, “If you are not really interested in spending the time and effort to do what is important to Me, I will make sure that you will not be able to spend the time and effort being involved with something that is important to you.”
In the future I plan to not be so blasé about davening. I will make the effort to be sure I know the minyan schedule and be on time.