Hamakir es Mekomo, knowing or recognizing one’s place is listed in Pirkei Avos (chapter 6 mishna 6) as one of the 48 ways to “acquire the Torah”.
When I first started learning, I always defined this trait as knowing when to speak up and when to keep my mouth closed. I really only thought of this concept in regard to my relationships with people. In the most simple terms, there is a time “climb into the driver’s seat” and a time to sit in the back seat, if you will. As I’ve grown in age, learned a bit more, experience things in life, and matured (well, gotten married, worked, had three kids-“matured” is really a subjective term) my working definition of Hamakir es Mekomo has changed.
My defintion of Hamakir es Mekomo is now more based on one’s location in life (including hashkafa-based, situational, and geographic). Each of us is truly where we need to be, as I’ve come to accept. The trick is to understand why were are in a given situation, relationship, or location. There have been, for sure, places where I have lived that were good for a certain time frame, and then I was directed elsewhere. The idea of “recognizing one’s place” can mean that I have an achrai’us (responsibility) to reach my potential in any given situation. While the “grass may be more haimesh” in another shul or community, Hashem really does put us where we need to be. This is not always an easy cup of coffee to drink, I admit.
Accepting a given situation as Hashgach Patis is probably the first step in recognizing that Hashem has put us in our particular ‘hakom”. This doesn’t mean that we can’t try to change our station in life (via danening or extra effort), but where we are, who we are married to, the children we have, all part of Hashem’s ultimate plan for us.
With this in mind, I have been thinking lately about the role we play at our Seder table. We are, on hand, told to feel like we are “free”. We recline, as royalty. We eat like royalty, wash like royalty, and drink like royalty. While all the foods of the seder are important, the Haggadah itself seems to center around the Arba Kosos. The mizvah of the four cups is singular in the sense that while we are required to drink them, we shouldn’t pour for ourselves. We go back and forth, like Tony Hawk on a half-pipe, between being the free person and the servant. I think that Hamakir es Mekomo, knowing one’s place fits in nicely. Each of us are, indeed free…free to chose to be an Eved Hashem.
It’s interesting to note that in the Mishna, right after Hamakir es Mekomo comes Sameach b’Chelko” – one who is happy with his portion. It seems, IMHO, that If you can’t accept that you are where you need to be and what you have been given, how can you be happy?
A few days ago was my 2nd blogaversary. Tonight I went for my pre-Pesach haircut, which was were my first posting idea started. Although my barber didn’t wax the mussar with me, he did say that I “looked better than when I came in”. He had a point.
I’ve always tried to be myself and be happy with who I am. It doesn’t matter if I’m learning the Bilvavi between alyios in my minyan on Shabbos, or cleaning for Pesach listening to Rav Weinberger’s Shabbos HaGadol drasha and then cranking up the Carelbach, Karduner, and Husker Du on iTunes, I am who I am. This blog didn’t really start out being as personal as it has become, but that’s what happened. Nor did I plan of becoming part of a “community” and actually connecting with people whom I have become friends with, that also just happened. For now, this is where Hashem whats me to be. I am thankful for having the ability to take time to actually write out ideas and things that I think about from time to time. While my posting hasn’t been as frequent as I would like recently, I thank all of you how have, for whatever reason, taken time out to read every so often.
May we have a Pesach this year that will help us discover who we are and where our priorities should be.