Leave the Rest To Hashem

Rabbi Avrohom Sebrow

The Mishna in Yevamos‭ (‬49a‭) ‬tells of a mysterious scroll found in Yerushalayim‭. ‬The Gemara proceeds to enumerate the contents of‭ ‬the parchment‭. ‬It is not immediately clear what the common thread is to all the facts listed on the scroll‭. ‬However‭, ‬one surprising fact mentioned in it sheds light on a historical mystery‭: ‬How did Yeshaya HaNavi die‭? ‬The scroll tells us the tragic and surprising answer‭. ‬Yeshaya Hanavi was killed by his own grandson‭. ‬

The story starts before his grandson was even born‭. ‬Chizkiya HaMelech was deathly ill‭. ‬Yeshaya HaNavi came to visit him and deliver a message‭. (‬Berachos 10a‭) ‬The Navi told Chizkiya that his death is a punishment for not marrying‭. ‬Chizkiya protested that he‭ ‬was within his rights not to marry‭. ‬He determined through Ruach HaKodesh that he would have wicked children‭. ‬Rather than fathering wicked offspring‭, ‬Chizkiya decided not to marry‭. ‬Yeshaya Ha‭- ‬Navi responded that regardless of the future‭, ‬Hashem expected Chizikya to follow the halacha and marry‭. ‬Chizkiya should leave the future to Hashem‭. ‬

Chizkiya accepted the rebuke and agreed to marry‭. ‬However‭, ‬Yeshaya Hanavi told him it was too late‭; ‬his death had already been decreed‭. ‬Whereupon‭, ‬Chizkiya HaNavi declared‭, ‬“I have a tradition from my father’s house that even if a sharp sword is on a person’s neck‭, ‬it is not too late to pray‭!‬”‭ ‬

Chizkiya prayed for forgiveness and accepted to marry‭. ‬Yeshaya HaNavi delivered Hashem’s response‭: ‬fifteen years had been added to Chizkiya’s life‭. ‬Chizkiya asked Yeshaya if he could marry his daughter‭. ‬Perhaps their combined merit would ensure that the offspring would be righteous‭. ‬

Unfortunately‭, ‬the plan did not succeed‭. ‬Chizkiya’s son was the wicked King Menashe‭. ‬The Gemara‭ (‬Yevamos 49b‭) ‬states that Menashe determined that Yeshaya was a false prophet‭. ‬

Moshe Rabbeinu indicated in the Torah that the best blessing a person can achieve in regards to his lifespan is to live the full‭ ‬number of his predetermined years‭. ‬Yet‭, ‬Yeshaya HaNavi prophesied that Hashem added 15‭ ‬years to Chizkiya’s life‭, ‬more than his predetermined years‭. ‬The contradiction is actually a good question‭. ‬There is a debate in the Gemara about‭ ‬what the correct answer is‭. ‬Yet Menashe did not want to hear the answer‭ ‬‮–‬‭ ‬he was just looking for an excuse to kill Yeshaya‭, ‬and‭ ‬so he declared Yeshaya HaNavi to be a false prophet‭. ‬The penalty for such an offense is death‭. ‬Yeshaya HaNavi died at the hands‭ ‬of his own grandson‭, ‬the wicked King Menashe‭. ‬

Yeshaya HaNavi instructed Chizkiya to just follow halacha and leave the future to Hashem‭. ‬There are other places in Tanach that‭ ‬demonstrate the same theme‭. ‬The Megilla‭ (‬2:10‭) ‬tells us that Esther did not reveal her nationality to Achashveirsoh because Mordechai commanded her to do so‭. ‬What was the reason for Mordechai’s instructions‭? ‬Rashi says that Mordechai hoped that Achashveirsoh would reject her as a queen due to her unconfirmed and suspicious heritage‭. ‬Yet‭, ‬in the very next verse‭, ‬the Megilla states that Mordechai stayed close to the king’s palace to see what would become of Esther‭. ‬Rashi explains that Mordechai did this because he was given a Divine signal that the future salvation of the Jewish nation would come about through Esther‭. ‬

My rebbe‭, ‬HaGaon Rav Henoch Leibowitz‭, ‬zt”l‭, ‬asked why was Mordechai trying to cause Achashveirsosh to reject Esther if the future salvation of the Jewish nation was on the line‭?! ‬My rebbe answered that no matter what Hashem has planned for the future‭, ‬right now Mordechai had to follow halacha‭. ‬Esther was not allowed to marry Achashveirosh‭. ‬There was currently no threat to the Jewish nation‭, ‬imminent or otherwise‭. ‬Consequently‭, ‬he advised Esther not to mention her nationality and hopefully rescue her from the king’s palace‭. ‬What about the future‭? ‬Mordechai left the future to Hashem‭. ‬

In Parshas VaYaishev‭, ‬Yaakov Avinu sends Yosef HaTzaddik to check on his brothers‭. ‬Yosef could not find them‭. ‬Hashem sent an angel‭, ‬Gavriel‭, ‬to direct Yosef to their location‭. ‬Yet‭, ‬Rashi‭ (‬37:17‭) ‬says that in the angel’s words to Yosef‭, ‬there was a hidden warning‭: ‬your brothers are trying to kill you‭. ‬At the very same time that Gavriel is directing Yosef to find his brothers as part of the Divine masterplan‭, ‬Gavriel is warning him to stay away‭!?! ‬

My rebbe‭, ‬HaGaon Rav Henoch Leibowitz‭, ‬zt”l‭, ‬asked‭: ‬isn’t that an obvious contradiction and dereliction of duty‭? ‬Yet‭, ‬we do not find that Gavriel was taken to task for this‭. ‬Moreover‭, ‬Chazal teach us what Gavriel did‭, ‬so that we can learn from it‭. ‬My rebbe opined that the explanation is the same as before‭. ‬Gavriel had a job to fulfill‭. ‬He needed to deliver a message‭, ‬which he did‭. ‬Yet‭, ‬at the same time‭, ‬he felt that Yosef needed saving‭.‬‭ ‬And so he managed to do both at the same time‭. ‬If Yosef would have taken the hint‭, ‬he would not have sought out his brothers‭. ‬What about Hashem’s masterplan‭? ‬Gavriel left that to Hashem‭. ‬

My rebbe explained that the lesson from this second example is even greater than the first‭. ‬Gavriel did not have an obligation to save Yosef‭, ‬but it was the right course of action to take‭, ‬therefore‭, ‬he fulfilled his job and still followed what he thought‭ ‬was proper and left Hashem’s plan to Hashem‭. ‬

My rebbe explained the practical application‭. ‬Oftentimes people are involved in spiritual endeavors such as establishing a shul‭,‬‭ ‬raising money for a Torah school‭, ‬and running a chessed organization‭. ‬These projects can take up all of an individual’s time‭. ‬Certainly‭, ‬there are thankfully many dedicated people who willingly give up all their time‭. ‬However‭, ‬there could be other demands on a person’s time‭. ‬A person needs to spend time with his family‭. ‬Even if there is no halacha about spending time with one’s family‭, ‬it is still the right thing to do‭. ‬Obviously‭, ‬family time comes before the pursuit of wealth‭. ‬Still‭, ‬does family come‭ ‬even before spiritual endeavors‭? ‬What about the argument‭, ‬“If I don’t stay up until midnight every night fundraising how will the school stay open‭?! ‬I don’t have any time to be home because otherwise how will this chessed organization function‭?!‬”‭ ‬My rebbe explained that the answers to those questions are if Hashem wants the school or organization to stay open‭, ‬it will stay open even without our personal input‭. ‬If Hashem does not want them to function‭, ‬whatever we do will not help‭. ‬

So what is left for us to do‭? ‬Hashem wants us to do our best while managing priorities‭. ‬That is our mission in life‭. ‬A person should try his hardest in his available time‭, ‬while still leaving time for family‭. ‬After a person did one’s best in the given time constraints‭, ‬the rest must be left to Hashem‭. ‬

Rabbi Avrohom Sebrow is a rebbe at Yeshiva Ateres Shimon in Far Rockaway‭. ‬In addition‭, ‬Rabbi Sebrow leads a daf yomi chaburah at‭ ‬Eitz Chayim of Dogwood Park in West Hempstead‭, ‬NY‭. ‬He can be contacted at ASebrow@gmail.com‭.‬

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