Day 36 of the Omer

עַל כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד לָדַעַת, כִּי הוּא יִתְבָּרֵךְ בְּהַשְׁגָּחָתוֹ הַפְּרָטִית נוֹתֵן לְכָל אָדָם הָאֶפְשָׁרוּת לְהָבִיא רָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן יִתְבָּרֵךְ מִן הַכֹּחַ אֶל הַפּוֹעַל, בְּקִיּוּם הַמִּצְוֹת וּבְחִזּוּק הַיַּהֲדוּת וְתוֹרָתֵנוּ הַקְּדוֹשָׁה בְּכָל עֵת וּבְכָל מָקוֹם שֶׁהוּא, וְאֵין הַדָּבָר תָּלוּי אֶלָּא בַּעֲבוֹדָתוֹ.

Every individual should know that G‑d, with His precisely-focused Providence,1 grants everyone the opportunity to bring His sublime Will from the potential to the actual, by observing the mitzvos and by fortifying Jewish practice and [the study of] our holy Torah at all times and places. The matter depends only on one’s efforts.2

A Story with an Echo

Before leaving White Russia for Eretz Yisrael in the year 1777,the saintly R. Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk paid a visit to the elderly sage, R. Yaakov Yosef of Polonnoye, who had been a leading disciple of the Baal Shem Tov. At that time, the sage asked his guest if he recalled the story that the Baal Shem Tov had told R. Menachem Mendel in his childhood. R. Menachem Mendel smiled. He did recall it, and that was why he was making the present visit.

To what story were they referring?

When R. Menachem Mendel was twelve years old, the Maggid of Mezritch had taken him to spend a Shabbos in the company of his mentor, the Baal Shem Tov. Throughout the daythe Baal Shem Tov paid little attention to the young guest, but on Motzaei Shabbos he related a parable in detail.

Even at that tender age, R. Menachem Mendel understood that the story was the tale of his life, and that his personal mission would be to follow the path charted for him by the Baal Shem Tov to its fullest. The parable alluded to the fact that before his voyage to Eretz Yisrael, R. Menachem Mendel would visit R. Yaakov Yosef — and that was why he now called upon him.

A similar parable is told in Heaven about every Jew. An awesome spiritual drama is played out every time a man or a woman fulfills a mitzvah. At the dawn of creation, when the universe was still in potential, G‑d gazed forth and beheld the entire future spiritual history of the world, perceiving every good deed that every individual would perform until the end of time. Our task is to become attuned to this inner vision, and to bring into reality the potential that G‑d planted in us long ago.