I heard an amazing story from the famous maggid (speaker) Rav. Meilech Biderman.
In the wilds of Manhattan there is a man who is not only materially successful but also unusually generous. He is in manufacturing, and receives the representatives of various tzedakah organizations in his plant since he spends so much time at work. This includes the many meshulachim from Eretz Yisrael. His reputation as a giver, and the flood of people who came for donations didn’t leaved him feeling drained or resentful. Quite the opposite. He felt privileged to share what he had. The Israelis sometimes spent significant time wandering through the endless corridors and wings, so he put up signs in Hebrew directing the meshulachim to his office so they wouldn’t be in the unenviable position of asking people directions but not quite understanding what they said. The signs all said, “CEO” in English and in Hebrew (baal habayit) with an arrow showing the way. Once a meshulach came to his office and said, “Only Hashem is the baal-habayit the CEO! You are in his hands just like I am, just like we all are”. The CEO liked what the meshulach said - it hit home. He is a man of real integrity, and was well aware of where his ego could lead him. He had the sign changed to “Manager”.
A few days later a pipe burst. The products stored in his warehouse were getting ruined. The manager saw it on his surveillance camera. He also saw the woman who was responsible for organizing the warehouse on her smartphone oblivious to the damage the burst pipe was doing. He tried the PA system but she was too far gone into the nether world of Twitter or whatever grabbed her at the moment. The losses were significant for him. He decided to fire her for her over the top negligence.
Her husband was furious. He had categorized the boss as a Bad Guy from day one. He was outraged and headed towards the plant with a loaded gun. It didn’t take him long to get lost in the maze of corridors. He asked employee directions to the CEO’s office. When he read the sign on the door, it said Manager. “This is a mistake” he thought. He knocked on the door and asked “Where’s the boss? I need to see the CEO”. The CEO pointed upward, meaning to hint that only Hashem is the Boss. “Hashem is the boss. I'm just one of His workers”. The man misunderstood him, and headed upstairs to the next floor. The CEO saw his face and took in how abnormal the entire conversation was. Why the rage? He then realized that something was very wrong and called the police. They came arrested the enraged husband, and he talked enough to get himself convicted of attempted murder.
Do you think that you are the boss? Maybe see things from another angle. You are an employee just like the rest of us.
Think of the last time you sat on the beach and watched the waves. How did you feel? Consciously or not, you were experiencing surrender. Your soul recognizes that the rhythm of the waves are part of a symphony called Creation, and that you are part of it. When you find that your lack of control makes you feel tempest- tossed, learn to scream out your pain to the only One who can help you. Your scream doesn’t have to be audible. It can be in your heart and soul. This is sometimes easier to do than to pray with words.
When the Jews were in Egypt, the Arizal tells us that their ability to speak was in exile. The text in the Chumash says that they cried out to Hashem. The Meohr Vashemesh explains that their outcry was silent. The most important thing to realize in this regard is that Hashem hears you whether you feel that you deserve His attention or that you don’t. The Jews in Egypt were far from perfect but their prayers were the direct cause of their redemption. It was after they cried out that Moshe had the vision of the burning bush and everything began to change.
The Midrash (Shmos Rabba 11:1- if I didn’t know the source I wouldn’t believe what I am telling you) says something amazing. It says, “Hashem said to Moshe to rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh. (Shmos 8; 16). Why did Moshe have to be there so early, “The Holy One blessed is He said to Moshe “Go to Pharaoh before he goes out to pray” Even his prayers are heard. It was time for the plagues to do their job. It was not G-d’s will to have Pharaoh to pray to change the decree.
We are in the parshiot that talk about the ten plagues. They demonstrated Hashem’s awareness of each individual life, His enormous love for us was great enough for Him to turn nature inside out for us. Reading about them can awaken you to noticing His continuous presence.
This is the perfect time to take down the invisible sign that says CEO and replace it with one that says ‘I just work here- I’m only the Manager.’