Hindsight Is 2020 – A Message For The New Year

Israel

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Crystal Ball-Telling the future

Long before the year 2020, the Jewish nation was concerned with and driven by a vision – a vision of what the best possible life would look like, a vision of the future when each man and woman would live up to his or her divine calling and the world would realize the purpose of its creation: to be a home for G-d.

The name for this clear-eyed, 2020 vision is “ge’ulah.” Ge’ulah means redemption. Redemption from what? From a life and world whose vision and mission is clouded. From a life and world in which materialism and superficial pleasure and instant gratification seduces us and distracts us from fulfilling the purpose for which we were sent to this world: to refine our corporeal existence and transform the world into a divine garden.

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But to properly look ahead and prepare for this vision, we need to look back in the past. Ba’yamim ha’heim, b’zman ha’zeh. As in days past, so too today and into the future. This idea underlies hashgacha pratis (Divine providence). Every detail of our lives is part of a continuum – a narrative that stretches from birth to death. Every detail in history is not a fragmented piece, but part of a larger story.

This story usually can’t be seen as the events unfold. But when we look back – in hindsight – and connect the dots, we see a pattern emerging.

Take the story of Purim, for example: The events related in the Megillah span nine years and, at the time, it wasn’t obvious that they were connected. The story begins with King Achashverosh throwing a party. His wife Vashti happens to refuse a request. He kills her for her disobedience. This sets the stage for Esther becoming his new queen. Mordechai then happens to overhear and foil a plot against the king. Haman meanwhile gains the king’s approval to annihilate the Jews.

Years later, the king happens to have insomnia one night. He summons his aides to read to him. They happen to read the story of Mordechai saving his life. The king chooses to reward him. Meanwhile, back at the palace, Esther invites the king and Haman to a party. There she finally exposes Haman and his plot against her people. The enraged king has Haman and his cohorts hanged, and reverses Haman’s decree. The great holiday of Purim is the result of all these events.

On the surface, the events seem disjointed. But when we look with 2020 hindsight, we see that they are pieces of one puzzle that led to the miracle of Purim.

Our belief in hashgocha pratis informs us that even if it isn’t always apparent, there is a deeper choreography at work that defines and connects all the details of our lives. We need to be wise to see and seek out these patterns – both in the past as well as into the future. Understanding the inner narrative of the past until this point in history helps us see, anticipate, prepare for – and navigate – the continuing narrative as we forge ahead into the future.

Eizehu chacham? Haro’eh es ha’nolad. Who is wise? The one who sees the birthing – i.e., the one who sees the forces in the past that gave birth to and shaped our present as well as the forces of the past and present that will give birth to and shape the future.

A multitude of events are currently whizzing by us, many of them seemingly disconnected. 2020, however, teaches us to look closer with visionary lenses and discern the developing story leading from the past into the present and future – all culminating in the majestic vision of ge’ulah, when all the moving parts will come together in a harmonious mosaic: a world filled with Divine knowledge as the waters cover the sea.

As we enter the new year of 2020, these are some 2020 vision thoughts worth pondering.

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