Focus on Your Given Role

The Fellowship  |  March 8, 2019

Man with wraps around his arms praying at the Western Wall.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.”
— Job 1:21

In loving memory of my father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, I share with you his devotions expressing his passion for family, for passing on his faith, and the importance of living a faith-filled life.
— Yael Eckstein, President

Rabbi Yehuda and Chana Henkin have dedicated their entire lives to serving God. In the 1970s they left the United States where they were born and moved to Israel in order to raise their family in the Jewish homeland. In addition, the Henkins became a household name in the realm of Jewish education, establishing a prestigious learning center in the heart of Jerusalem.

The Henkins were well-known, respected, and beloved in the Jewish community.

So it was especially devastating to hear that of all people, it was their son who was gunned down along with his wife in front of their children. The elder Henkins, Yehuda and Chana, were left to mourn their children and also to raise the four traumatized grandchildren left behind.

In the face of this senseless violence and tragedy, we might imagine that the Henkins were full of spiritual doubts and frustrations. But listen to the words of Chana Henkin as she addressed her students just one week after the murders. She said: “The whole world is coming up to me now and saying, ‘Be strong! Be strong!’ I want to tell them, I don’t know what will be in the future, but I do not feel any frustration regarding faith.”

She continued, “I never believed that the Holy One, Blessed be He, gives out prizes. I never thought that is what He does, so it’s not like I was disappointed with Him. God put us here to fulfill a role in the world. All of us have a role. Sometimes that role is pleasant, sometimes that role is not pleasant. But we must get up to fulfill that role, that’s why we are here in this world.”

What amazing words of strength and faith! Chana Henkin taught us that God gives out roles, not rewards in this world. We must accept God’s decrees with devotion, not judgment.

This unfathomable faith parallels that of Job. Just after being told that all his possessions had been lost and all his children had perished, Job replied with great faith, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”

As the Henkins taught us — and as Job demonstrated from the Bible — it is possible to attain such faith in God even today. It is possible to praise Him even in our most trying times. Let us learn from these spiritual giants to live more peacefully and purposefully as we focus on our roles and leave our future reward to God.

For more on what it means to live a faith-filled life, please download Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s timeless teachings in his booklet, A Man of Faith.

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