Lush Meadows and Tranquil Waters
Rabbi Yosef Cohen
Rabbi Cohen hails from London, England. He has learned in the illustrious yeshivos of Gateshead, Bais Medrish Gevoha (Lakewood), and Ponovisz. He is a popular teacher in several of Yerushalayim’s seminaries, and he lives in Bnei Brak with his wife and children. (Yes, he commutes everyday!!)
As many of you find yourselves sorely missing Eretz Yisroel and your seminary experience, I would like to comfort you with the following thoughts:
Dovid Hamelech writes
“Hashem Roi Lo Echsar, Bnos Deshe Yarbitzeini Al Mei Menuchos Yinahaleini”
“Hashem is my shepherd I do not lack, He lays me down in lush meadows and leads me away along tranquil waters”
Rav Chaim Volozhin ZT”L points out that there are two types of scenarios that Dovid Hamelech is describing. Being  ‘laid down’ and being  ‘led away’.
These situations describe two of the great challenges that face people during life.
 Being ‘laid down’.
These are times when we want to move on and away, to a different school, town, community or situation etc. However, Hashem, for reasons known to Him [and sometimes later to us] ‘lays us down’ here. He creates a set of circumstances that force us to remain here. Now we have a choice; we foolishly could resent where we are and always have our minds and hearts elsewhere, where we wish and dream to be. Alternatively, we could be smart and say; if Hashem ‘laid me down here’ , then obviously He knows what’s good for me. Instead of resenting my surroundings, feeling miserable and negative, etc, I will look at myself as having been ‘laid down in beautiful lush meadows’.
We find that Yosef after having been put in prison for many years, calls his jail cell “habayit hazeh’ – If Hashem put me here, it’s for a reason, to rectify my past and help my future. If that’s the case, it’s not a dungeon, it’s my ‘bayit’ – it’s lush meadows, it’s opportunity further growth.
 Being ‘led away’.
On the other hand, sometimes in life we encounter the opposite scenario. Hashem ‘leads me away’. I am happy and settled in a place and really don’t want to leave, I want to stay.
‘This has been an amazing experience, who wants to leave’? But, sometimes, Hashem brings about a situation that forces us to move on. Being that the case – view it as tranquil waters, not a miserable depressing situation.
Take note that both lush meadows and tranquil waters cause growth. Without water the grass, trees, and flowers don’t blossom. Similarly, lush meadows symbolize fresh developed foliage.
In the moshel of the sheep and shepherd, the same is true. Sometimes the sheep want to wander off, but the shepherd forces them to graze here. The shepherd knows this is the best place for now. On other occasions, the sheep want to remain pasturing in lush meadows, yet the shepherd moves them on to the next stop – again, knowing better.
As the seforim teach us, we were created with two eyes because there are two ways to look at everything.
Tell yourselves that if Hashem has done a ‘yinahaleini’ to you – you must search and find the ‘mei menuchos’.
Im yirtze Hashem, the fire that was kindled here in seminary, should be rekindled wherever you are. If you can’t actually be in seminary bring the seminary experience to you. You always have those ‘matches’ [i.e. the shiurim and memories, etc] from which to once again warm your hearts B’Aish Hatorah. Besides those ‘matches’, you also have shiurim and much to take advantage of, etc. in your own communities.
My bracha to you all is that you should find the ‘na’os deshe’ and ‘mei menuchos’ throughout your lives.
May each of you at the right time find your match – a real ‘gem/yeshiv’ [as you are jem or gem/sems :)) ]
B’vrachos V’kol Tuv,
Rabbi Yossi Cohen