What does it mean to learn from the world around you? There are amazing things going on every minute of every day. They happen right where you are whether you acknowledge them or not. The creator of the universe is constantly doing things for our direct benefit, even if one doesn’t believe He exists. There are the obvious things we thank Him for all the time. These might include our lives, our families, or the food we eat. But there are so many more things going on around us from which we can learn. I was listening to a lecture by Rav Dror Moshe Cassouto from the Emunah Center. He said that we should learn from the world around us. But what is there to learn? What can the world teach us? Well, if you take a little time and look around, there are so many things happening. Some of those things are just for our own benefit. Yes, the creator of the universe, with everything that is vying for His attention, cares enough about you to make things happen just so you have the opportunity to learn something.
So what are these things? They could be anything really. It is important to understand that even some of them might seem bad to us or negative in some way. To really learn from the creator, you must forget about good and bad. Know that everything He does is for the very best, even if it seems bad at the time it is happening. The classic example from the Torah is what happened to Joseph when He was sold into slavery by his brothers. One would think that situation could be considered a bad day for Joseph. But it wasn’t. It was a great day. Without being sold into slavery, Jacob and his entire family could have died in the famine that was to occur years later.
I can’t tell you exactly what HaShem is doing in your life. Often times, the things that are meant for us don’t even register to those around us. But that’s okay, He’s working on them too. It could be something as simple as someone whom you don’t know, opening a door for you. It could be something as severe as a car accident. One can have a valuable learning experience from both. That’s why I try to open the door for others whenever I get the chance. Any time you can interact with a complete stranger is an opportunity. It might be for your benefit or theirs. Either way, it’s a good thing to do.
Sometimes I realize something significant just because I was at the right place at the right time. It can happen at work or when driving in the car. It happens when it needs to happen. But you have to make yourself receptive to those realizations. Constantly communicating with HaShem is a good place to start. Think of it like this. If you are talking to another person, the things they say sometimes have more than one meaning. To interpret what they are saying, your brain takes various things into consideration. Do you know them well? What type of person are they? Do they usually give you insight? These are just a few of the things your brain considers almost instantaneously during the conversation. When your conversations with HaShem reach that same level, you will get insight. You will get realizations. I have realized things that happened years ago.
The situations He puts us in today can hold some meaning for us today. But they can also have a meaning for our past and future as well. Only when you open yourself up to what the creator has to offer you, will you be able to understand what is really happening to you. People go through their lives without this understanding. They think that random things happen for no reason at all. These people wind up being miserable. They feel tormented by their lives. If this is you, open up to the creator. Talk to Him like you talk to your best friend. Tell Him what you are doing and why. Tell Him what you want to do. Tell Him everything. Read the Psalms. This is what Dovid was doing.
You might think this is foolish or unnecessary. After all, doesn’t He already know everything? Of course, He does. But He wants us to communicate with Him. He wants us to turn to Him instead of turning to others for answers. View yourself as something other than what you think you are. What you are is a soul.
So often, we get caught up in what appears to be happening. Remember, everything that happens is for the very best reason. This means that even if something happens which you perceive as bad, you must thank HaShem for it. Once, the house where I lived burned down. As I drove away that night, not knowing what would happen next, I was thanking HaShem. He took me out of a bad situation. It was the best thing that could have happened at that time. Was it hard? Yes. Was I happy to lose almost everything? No. But I am thankful even today, twenty-five years later, that it happened. The fact is that HaShem loved me enough to do something for me, something big.
Learning from the world around you means that everything you see, hear, and think has some value. Yes, you can learn something by watching what is going on around you. Anything you see can be significant. Start looking at nature. It is constantly changing. Our lives are also changing. Look back at your life. There are things that only you know, your thoughts. Don’t allow your thoughts to be clouded by the evil inclination. It will lead you into darkness. When you are in the darkness, you can’t see what is really there. Simply by talking to HaShem, you are bringing yourself into the light. So, if talking to Him brings you into the light, then talking to Him will make things clearer for you. When things are clear, you can see the true meaning. When you see the true meaning, that means you have learned. So, talking to HaShem, who is all around you at all times, brings understanding and understanding brings learning. Learn from the world around you.
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