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Amidah: Review of Da’at Part Four: Life Experiences

Transcribed and prepared by Chava Janovsky: Bina comes through our life experiences. Hashem uses life experiences to teach us bina. We began with the idea that our life experiences are all tools to learn. So we said: in order to be able to declare “umilamad l’enosh bina,” I must be a human being who uses my life experiences to gain a deeper understanding/bina. This fact is an unbelievable thing. It means that in order to say this phrase we need to act this way. So that if something happens to me, I use whatever happens to me to learn more how to understand.


Story of Medical Experience

So For example, I spend a lot of time in the hospital. People would say you have to daven to get better, to get better, to get better, to get better. I was davening to understand what Hashem was trying to teach me. So Rav Noach said: “Hashem is articulate: if you don’t understand what He is saying it is only because you are an idiot or you are deaf. So I said: “what, what? Can’t hear you” (ha ha).

So I was having terrible reactions to all my medications. They were all killing/changing my moods. So I decided I would focus whatever the circumstances were. That is what I was supposed to learn. So I started to keep a record of all my moods. Then I asked my wife and kids if I acted that way without medications. They said yes (although they all only knew me with meds.) But each one was “yes” so each mood was a midda I needed to work on. I began to tackle them one at a time.  And I promise that with each one I tackled I didn’t need that medicine.

This was a 13 year process of terrible illness.  When the whole was thing over and I had the following experience. I was sitting and talking at a conference with a doctor who I had never met before. This doctor saw the medic alert bracelet and said he didn’t want to see it, he just want to look at me. And he looked at me and in 5 minutes gave a complete and total diagnosis that had taken 13 years to get. I went through 19 major surgeries, was declared dead 3 times, and was many times in intensive care. I went through everything in the world because no one had a diagnosis. And then this guy diagnosed me in 5 minutes; no one could diagnose in 13 years and this guy did it in 5 minutes? Do you realize what Hashem did? No one could diagnose me for 13 years and this guy did it in 5 minutes?

So I asked his Uncle Noach “Why?” and he said – “I told you it was deafness.” He said “don’t you understand: you weren’t listening. He was teaching you and teaching you and you thought you were so smart. You weren’t listening. The minute you started listening you got your answers. Hashem is telling you if you started listening right away would have taken 5 minutes not 13 years. So this time know: if He starts speaking, listen. So stop being an idiot.” And he hung up”

It is unbelievable. This idea is “u’milamade lenosh bina.” Hashem teaches us. Let’s say if I interact with a horrible person and I didn’t do anything wrong, I can say: “What a horrible human being! That Weinberg, I can’t stand him. He drives me up a wall!” I could just blame it on the person or I can say: “How do I react to him?” And then you figure out: is this something on which I need to work? This is “umilamade l’enosh bina.”

If I am stuck in traffic on the way to important interview, why is Hashem making it hard? Why is He doing this? This is an interview – why is it so hard with parnsassa? I don’t know the reason it is so hard for parnassa but can look at what feelings is this releasing in me. That is “umilamade l’enosh bina.” – to ask that question. If that is my reaction to my difficult circumstances then can say “umilamade l’enosh bina.” And then the most amazing things will happen. You will never have a davening without a new insight. You can look in my study: I have a wall of binders. I have every Shemonei Esrei in a binder that I davened since age 16. I have never a Shemonei Esrei without a new insight I never had before. Because the minute can say “umilamade l’enosh bina.” it is real and Hashem talks to you. Hashem teaches you. He talks to you. This is not just daas; there are constant life experiences that train you. So you see issues that frustrate you for 20 years. And you don’t know why Hashem is doing it. We love Him so much like a parent so we blame Him for everything like a parent instead of understanding He is teaching us. That is “umilamade l’enosh bina.”

Brief Summary of Daas and Bina

Daas is a gift without strings. You get it as long as understand what daas is and as long as you understand what that Torah is they get as a gift it works. The Gemorrah in Eruvin says that Moshe learned the whole Torah the first 39 days he was in Shaymayim but each day he forgot everything he learned. Then on the 40th day in the final moments Hashem gave him the understanding of Torah as a gift. Hashem gave it as a gift – why? Because Torah can only come as a gift.

This idea is why the Gra says we mean when say “Zachrainu l’chaim…” on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippour. It means: “Write me down for the gift of Torah I will receive over the coming year.” The minute we understand that life is a gift this is “ata chonane l’adam daas”. Then, “umilamade l’enosh bina,”is that Hashem teaches us from life experiences.

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