Monday, October 22, 2007

Question & Answer With Dixie Yid - Hashgocha Pratis

(Picture courtesy of

A Simple Jew asks:

In many of my recent postings, I have attempted to uncover the hand of Hashem in events significant, and seemingly insignificant in my life. Can you think of something significant that happened to you this past year which you clearly believe is an example of hashgocha pratis?

Dixie Yid answers:

Recently, I've been upgrading my wardrobe and way of dressing to be more fitting with the image of a successful lawyer. By nature, I've always veered away from dressing nicely or expensively, so this is a step I've been procrastinating for a very long time. I've always seen it as a waste of time and money to invest so much in the way one looks. Because of this, I've always looked somewhat less than sterling when it came to my shoes, clothes, etc. I have also recently been trying to place myself on the track towards working in the top level law firms.

I watched this video of Rav Tzvi Mayer speaking in English. In it, he spoke about not falling into kavod hamedumah, illusiory forms of honor/prestige. He said that one shouldn't compare himself to other people or focus too much on honor. He illustrated this with two stories.

He said that once the Mirer Rosh Yeshiva was walking down the street, when a garbage truck drove past. After passing him, the truck stopped, and the man hanging onto the back of the truck jumped off and approached the Rosh Yeshiva. He then said to him, "You should know that I don't always hang on the back of the truck. Really, we have a rotation, and soon, I will be back in the front of the truck. Also, I'm only in the back today because I was mevater and I let someone else take the front, but you shouldn't think that I'm the kind of garbage man who always has to hang onto the back of the truck."

Rav Tzvi Mayer wondered how this man could hang onto kavod and honor in that situation. Sof kol sof it's a garbage truck! But the point is that we are no different. We may try to feel honorable or prestigeous by what college we went to, what job we have, what car we drive, what clothes we wear, or who our friends are. But sof kol sof, Olam Hazeh is a garbage truck relative to the Olam Ha'emes. Nothing that is of this world is of any true or lasting value, yet we cling to these things.

He told another story of a gevir who gave up and sold his businesses in order to learn full-time. When asked why he did it, he said that he observed something life changing. He had, for a long time, admired another, even richer, gevir, who was so rich that he was on the Forbes 500 list of wealthy people. One day, this man noticed his richer friend in a terrible state of depression. He asked him what was wrong. The answer from this man, who he desired to emulate, astounded him. Forbes had just come out with their list and this man had expected to be at a certain place in the list, but instead, he was about 150 places lower than he expected. He was devastated and depressed about this. When this gevir saw this, he could not believe that such smallness and pettiness is the portion of the kind of man who he admired. He then realized that his efforts at finding happiness in the kavod and prestige of wealth and business success was pointless and illusory.

I saw hashgacha pratis in the fact that R' Tzvi Mayer talked about this inyan that I have been making changes in, which, I have to consider, may or may not be for the better.

In court, during my day job, I witnessed another small incident that brought home the smallness that can swallow a person when he envelops himself in that lifestyle. I saw an attorney of seemingly low class and standards arguing in a pointless fashion with a judge, just to prove that he was right about something, when there was very little point in doing so, given the particulars of the circumstances. Afterwards, I was sitting behind him and noticed that he pulled out a magazine, and I noticed that he was deeply engrossed in an article about about a certain model of Lexus.

Immersed in lowly things, all this man can think about is driving that Lexus. It made me think of the mishna in Avos 4:27, "הקנאה והתאווה והכבוד, מוציאין את האדם מן העולם." When one is living or desiring that lifestyle of nice cars, nice things, expensive clothing, etc, it can cause a person to be enveloped in that smallness and it will truly take the person out of this world, the world of truth.

So I saw hashgacha pratis in what R' Tzvi Mayer talked about in the video shiur and what I saw in the man in court the morning after viewing this shiur. I see a message that I should re-evaluate the role of this physicality in relation to what I should really be doing relative to my style of dress and my career goals, plans, and hishtadlus'n.

May I and all of us merit to see Hashem's hand in every detail of life!


At October 22, 2007 at 1:38:00 PM EDT, Blogger Neil Harris said...

Great post. While what we wear is semi-important. The way we act, as mentschen, come through regardless of dress.
I will say, as someone who isn't required to wear ties at work,
whenever I do wear a tie (chol hamoed), I'm treated slightly differently.

At October 22, 2007 at 2:08:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a thought: how do you know your seeing that particular shiur wasn't a test? Perhaps it was your yetzer hara letting you off the hook? If it's somewhat difficult for you to dress up, maybe you SHOULD try to do the less comfortable thing. Precisely because you're not naturally a superfiical person, you're unlikely ever to identify deeply with your clothing and won't get a chip on your shoulder because of it. Maybe, in your case, it will enhance your maturity/dignity or other positive and not-at-all superficial qualities and be an unqualified GOOD thing.

At October 22, 2007 at 2:17:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

How does that act of a person upgrading or changing the style of his clothes come into play with the teaching that a person chooses and purchased clothing because it contains sparks that are attached to the root of his soul?

At October 22, 2007 at 2:36:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Sefer Hamiddos on the topic of clothing here

At October 22, 2007 at 6:17:00 PM EDT, Blogger DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Another casual Fellow,

I hear what you're saying and it definitely could be. That was my initial feeling as well. I even told a couple of people that I thought dressing with more "ga'ava" might make me more of an anav, since it would make me feel that I was hiding my inner kedusah even more by clothing my chitzinius in a more physically attractive, and therefore "less spiritual" type of dress.

I'm just concerned that I may be fooling myself by telling myself that I won't get caught up in the image and priorities of the American "high achiever."

Perhaps it is just a warning shot over my bow, to make sure I stay wary of the dangers of getting too caught up in what other people think and in how I dress.

-Dixie Yid


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