And the voice called to me from heaven. “Dovi,” it said, in an oddly mechanical tone, “just where do you think you’re going? Get back on the Hutchinson River Parkway right away!”
Actually, the voice did not originate from heaven. Nor did it address me by my first name. But the part about the “strangely mechanical tone” is perfectly true.
For a drive from my Brooklyn office to a meeting at Kraft Foods in Rye Brook, New York, I put my vehicle’s GPS navigation system to work.
The meeting went well (see centerfold), and it was only on my return drive that I looked up and noticed the exit for Francis Lewis Boulevard. Zomick’s, a popular, OK-certified kosher bakery, is located a short distance from Francis Lewis Boulevard on Central Avenue in Long Island. Desperate to populate my desolate stomach, I hooked a quick right at the exit.
That’s when it happened. The vehicle’s navigation device, which had been supporting my progression along the logical route to my stated destination, took note of my deviation and went berserk! The miniature computer screen, previously displaying a digital map, now started flashing the term “recalculating.” Then the orders started coming fast and furious. First there was, “At the corner, turn left!” When I ignored this, there came, “In a half mile, turn right!” Finally, with an air of urgency, it instructed, “If possible, please make a U turn!”
My thoughts turned back to my days in yeshiva. There was that enigmatic verse in Ethics of the Fathers.1 It spoke of a Heavenly Voice issuing forth from Mount Choreb (Sinai), imploring errant souls to return to G-d. “Of what use is a Heavenly Voice,” asks the Baal Shem Tov, “if it is never heard on earth?” The Baal Shem Tov explains that while the voice is not physically audible, man’s spirit senses it, and many a lost soul has returned at the beck of this powerful call.
Inclined though I was to trust the authenticity of this Torah teaching, the whole scenario seemed somehow farfetched. I mean, does G-d truly monitor every move we make, to the point of registering even the smallest mistake? Is our disobedience to the Divine command taken so seriously as to warrant the raising of a heavenly fuss? And finally, could such otherworldly rumblings realistically register down here on earth?
Somehow, a right turn in the wrong direction brought me the answer to my questions. Somewhere between the Hutchinson River Parkway and Zomick’s Bakery, it became apparent that a remote satellite was attuned to my precise station. One wrong move on my part was enough to elicit an outer space outcry, with this skyway sleuth adjuring me to return to the path of truth!
A new technology reinforced an ancient reality. If a man-made satellite can simultaneously direct tens of thousands of vehicles, why can’t G-d direct the many men He made?
Indeed, He does! Sometimes we feel a bolt of inspiration out of the blue, with no prior warning or preparation. It’s the Heavenly Voice ringing out and making the connection. At times, we may even take the hint on a conscious level. Like receiving a call from a friend inviting you to attend a Jewish gathering, or opening your Jewish weekly and encountering a little bit of Kosher Spirit!
1. Ethics 6:2