In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. — Proverbs 16:9
Leave it to God to make the oldest man alive today a person named Israel, living in the State of Israel, having lived through both World Wars and survived the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp. On March 11, 2016, Mr. Israel Kristal was given the title of “Oldest Living Man” by Guinness World Records. At 112 years old, Mr. Kristal has beaten all odds and outlived those who sought to destroy him — and he continues to do so.
If this doesn’t prove that God and not other people determines our fate, I don’t know what does.
Here is what Mr. Kristal had to say upon learning of his status: “I don’t know the secret for long life. I believe that everything is determined from above and we shall never know the reasons why. There have been smarter, stronger, and better looking men than me who are no longer alive. All that is left for us to do is to keep on working as hard as we can and rebuild what is lost.”
God couldn’t have picked a better messenger to deliver the message! As Mr. Kristal humbly asserts, he doesn’t know the formula for living a long life. He understands that he had nothing to do with it – it was all God’s doing. Of course he did his best to survive and persevere through hard times, but this wise man doesn’t attribute his survival to his own wisdom. He knows that God does things for reasons that we will never understand and do not control. All we can do is be the best that we can be and do our part in making the world a better place.
In the book of Proverbs, Solomon put it this way: “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” Man can plan all he wants, but it is God who will decide what will or won’t happen.
Hitler had plans. The Arab nations that came to wage war against Israel upon its founding in 1948 had plans. Today, many enemies of Israel have plans. But God has proven that only His plan will come to be.
Friends, let’s remember the inspiring story of Israel Kristal. We can beat all odds and we can go on to live long and happy lives if it is God’s will. It doesn’t matter what our circumstances look like, what anyone has said to us, or what our enemies have planned for us. We can outlive them all, prosper in spite of it all, and live to fulfill our true purpose — to serve God, to love and help His children, and to have faith that He will take care of the rest.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President