I received an email from a friend yesterday. He wanted to know how I’m doing and simply asked, “Hey, Shmuel, how are you and the family during these crazy times?” That simple, innocent question started me thinking and here’s what I concluded: These are not “crazy” times… they are “challenging” times. Let me explain. Hashem is not crazy and everything He does has a purpose and a plan. Most times, we have no idea what that plan is and it actually makes no sense to us, but one thing I can swear to; it’s not crazy. Hashem challenges us, He pushes us to our limits, He tests us in various ways and all for a reason we don’t know… and probably will never know. To many of us, the challenges seem too great to bear and the tests are impossible to pass but I learned something many years ago that keeps me going each and every day: Hashem does not give a person a test he/she cannot pass. As difficult as it may be, if Hashem put you in a certain situation, He feels you can use it to rise to greatness! Believe me that I am not blind and I see the difficulties that many people are having from this worldwide plague. Thousands of people have died and tens of thousands are sick. Many good people have lost their jobs and will experience serious financial difficulties. Weddings and other happy, family events have been cancelled and panic, anxiety, tension and stress are weighing very heavily on millions of people across the globe. This is exactly why I call it a “challenge” because – for some unknown reason – our Father in Heaven feels we need to be pushed to our limits. Dearest friends; now is not the time to crawl into a corner and be depressed. We need to stand up and attempt to understand what Hashem wants from us. I am not the one who has the answers but I am certain that we need to overcome our initial reaction of worry and fear to understand the current reality… and use it to serve our King in the greatest way possible. But there’s one more point I want to stress. As stated above, I learned that Hashem never gives a person a test they can’t pass but a few years ago I studied an even deeper concept in the world of Chassidut. The holy teachings of Chassidut state quite clearly that Hashem sends a person into this world to accomplish a task and then gives that person the tools they need to reach their goal to get the job done. In other words, someone may be wealthy because they need money to accomplish their Divine mission while another may be poor because he/she needs poverty to do their job. One may have health, another has sickness etc… – not because Hashem is “crazy” – but because each person needs a different set of tools to accomplish their specific task. This is why you give a carpenter a hammer while to an artist you give a paint brush. Based on these deeper teachings of Chassidut, Hashem feels that – exactly now – we need to have this “tool”. Some people will emerge unscathed, others will become unemployed while others will be sick. Why? I don’t know… except for one thing; Hashem is giving us this so that we can use it to achieve our purpose and fulfill our mission. Therefore, please stand strong. Open your eyes and try your best to understand what message Hashem is sending you. He has faith in you, trusts you and knows you can pass the test and overcome the challenge. Use this to “rise to the occasion” and become a loyal servant in Hashem’s palace. Be full of joy – yes, real “simcha” – especially now during these challenging days. Even though I am not a Kohen, I give you a bracha – and ask for one from you – that you pass the test, accomplish your Heavenly mission and become stronger than ever in serving the One and Only G-d in Heaven. May these days strengthen us, our communities and the State of Israel. Am Yisrael Chai!