The Divine in Daily Life

Yael Eckstein  |  February 9, 2024

Young boys during a Tikva prayer

Go to the ant, you sluggard;
    consider its ways and be wise!
It has no commander,
    no overseer or ruler,
yet it stores its provisions in summer
    and gathers its food at harvest
. — Proverbs 6:6-8

We continue with devotional thoughts from the Book of Proverbs every Friday. One of the 11 books in the Torah known as the Ketuvim, Hebrew for “writings,” Proverbs is part of the “wisdom tradition,” which also includes Job and Ecclesiastes.

A renowned 19th-century rabbi once said to his students, “You know, my friends, we can learn great truths from even inanimate things. Everything can teach us something.” Taking the rabbi’s statement as a challenge, one student asked, “What might we might learn from a train?” The rabbi replied, “That one moment can cause you to miss the whole thing.”

Another student asked, “What might we learn from a telegraph?” The rabbi replied, “That every word is counted and that every word carries a cost.” A third student asked, “And a telephone—what might we learn from that?” The wise rabbi explained, “That what you say here can surely be heard there.”

I love this story because it reminds me to pay attention to the divine messages and profound meaning that can be discovered in our daily lives.

The Divine in Daily Life

Proverbs 6:8 directs the lazy person to take a lesson from hard-working ants. Similarly, the Jewish sages teach that if God had not given us the Bible, we would be required to learn morality by studying animals. We would learn modesty from a cat, honest industry from an ant, fidelity from a dove, and so on. But, how would we differentiate between good and bad traits found in the animal kingdom? Why not learn cruelty from the jackal or promiscuity from a rooster?

The Jewish sages explained that a person finds what they are looking for. If we are searching for ways to be good and godly, we will find the appropriate guidance everywhere. However, if we are looking to rationalize selfish, immoral, or unkind behavior, we will find false justifications everywhere.

Once we set our intention to living a God-centered, moral, life we can—and should—learn from the divine messages found in our daily lives. In fact, the sages teach that nothing that happens in our day is by chance. Everything we see, every person we encounter, and everything that happens to us contains a message from God. God communicates with us at every moment of every day. When our heart is right, we can see and hear Him in everything.

Your Turn:

Take a short walk and write down the first five things that catch your attention. Contemplate what you might learn from these things and what messages God might be sending you today.