As I was mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook feed one morning, I noticed that two friends with very different backgrounds posted the same video of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I clicked on the video and immediately realized this message was surely meant for me.
Just a day earlier I was discussing with a friend how I constantly have this nagging feeling I’m not meeting the requirements of my mission in this life.
For 20 years I have worked as a journalist, often sharing stories about my journey to religious Judaism. Thank G-d, hundreds of my articles have appeared in Jewish and secular publications, in print and online.
But the past few years my writing has slowed down significantly, as has my zeal for my chosen Torah lifestyle. I’m still living a Torah life, but the passion that kept me racing forward for a decade has somewhat subsided.
I think about this every day, without fail: “I’m not writing. I’m not writing.” It nags at me. I find other ways to distract myself, sometimes constructive, other times not. But the pesky feeling remains nearly every waking moment.
Then the words of the Rebbe, spoken decades ago, came unexpectedly pouring into my home in an authoritative yet loving Yiddish. I internalized his voice while reading the English translation on the small screen of my outdated iPhone.
“One whom G-d has given the opportunity to write,” he says, “can use his abilities to spread Judaism … to give an understanding that there is a divine providence.”
I’m dumbfounded. My stomach turns. I can’t escape this message or my mission for another moment.
Even the excuse that often plays in my mind — “I’m a busy mom caring for four children; certainly my own daily prayer and giving over my faith to my family can be enough” — is refuted.
The Rebbe continues, “The fact that you know it on your own isn’t enough. … You haven’t done your duty by sharing it between you and your family alone.”
I listened to his words several times, my heart racing, my fingers typing on the computer, my body and soul working in beautiful unison. This is the most fulfilling and satisfying feeling we can ever know. Depression and anxiety are no match for a body fulfilling its soul’s divine mission.
As a child and throughout early adulthood, constant awareness of G-d was not part of my daily life or vernacular. Now, like most observant Jews, the words “Baruch Hashem” and “Thank G-d” regularly roll off my tongue as others ask how I’m doing. Simply responding, “Fine, thanks,” seems like an obvious omission.
But there are many moments between my “Baruch Hashems” in which I’m not being grateful, not recognizing that a Master of the Universe is in charge of all this seeming randomness and often gut-wrenching pain.
Each of us has a mission, however, in turning the jungle into an oasis. It may not be writing, but with each interaction and decision, we have the choice to acknowledge our partnership in bringing His awareness to the world or not.
I have found that when I take a moment to ask for His help, I get it. Then it’s a matter of knowing what to do with it — in this case, putting my faith, though sometimes fleeting, into words and sharing those words with the world. Because if it’s just mine alone, it’s not enough.
“It must be communicated to the reader,” the Rebbe says, “the awareness that ‘there is a master of this palace,’ that there is a master in charge of this turbulent world. … And in the end, righteousness and goodness will prevail.”
G-d found a way, through the Rebbe, to get a message across. How many messages are we missing? I can hear the skeptical voices of various family members and friends who haven’t shared in my belief. For half a moment, I question myself. Do my words sound naive? Maybe.
But I have felt it with almost indescribable certainty. Witnessed it in breathtaking moments that sent chills up my back. My awareness isn’t always there, but my goal is to grow in my connection and to continue to share that message with whoever is willing to listen.
Mindy Rubenstein serves as the founder and editorial director of Nishei, the magazine for Atlanta’s Jewish women. She lives in Toco Hills with her husband and four children. Send your Hand of Hashem moments — stories in which G-d’s presence was evident — to firstname.lastname@example.org.