When Hagar was told to leave Avraham’s house with Yishmael, the Torah tells us Hagar got lost in the desert. Rashi comments: ‘from here we learn that Hagar went back to Avodah Zarah [worshipping idols].’ How is that obvious to Rashi from the fact that Hagar got lost?
The answer is that a person who is aware of G-d is NEVER lost. If a person ever thinks they are lost, they are saying G-d was not there, supervising their steps and getting them to the place where they find themselves. If Hagar would have believed fully in G-d, she would say, “Why did you bring me to this place, G-d? What has to be my mission here that you led me to this exact spot?” Hagar, however, was lost, literally and spiritually. She felt she was in a spot she wasn’t supposed to be, felt like there was no Power guiding her steps. Any situation you and I find ourselves in has that same truth. From the trip to the emergency room that we sometimes need to take, to the spot in our bathroom with the toilet all clogged, each situation, each journey, was put into motion for a reason.
At the creation of the world, pristine and pure spiritual holiness existed in one solid mass. Think of it as one, huge glistening, light giving, blinding light of Kedusha [sanctity]. And then, with a huge shove, this big light was sent shattering and scattering to all ends of earth, breaking into tiny sparks that rolled here and there. Just like in a scavenger hunt, where players have to track down every item on their list, man was given the task of gathering every last bit of shattered Kedusha, wherever that spark of light may have landed. Where can the spark be? Hidden in our food, trapped in a tree, atop a Swiss mountain – anywhere and everywhere. These sparks are called Nitzeetzay Kedisha [sparks of holiness] and, if we are lucky enough to realize it, they are there for us to release through our exertions. Each Mitzvah [positive commandment] brings the sparks together to the whole light source, and each Avayrah [negative commandment/sin] breaks up the holiness into smaller pieces, scattering them and hiding them even more.
Each soul has its own sparks it must find and release since each soul comes from prior generation’s souls who might have shattered and hidden some sparks by their sins. Therefore, G-d with mercy guides each one of us to where we need to be and gives us the experiences we need to release the sparks that are our responsibility. Suppose you plan to go to Niagara Falls and get lost. You end up somewhere upstate and find an apple picking orchard. Hungry by now, you pay the price and pick an apple. You are not lost. It is not random. That apple in that place from that tree needed your soul to have deep concentration when you say the Borei Pri HaEtz [blessing thanking G-d for things growing on trees], because only that way will the spark of Kedusha hidden within the apple be released. You ordered salmon for Shabbos, but somehow got whitefish and never had a chance to exchange it. So whitefish it is for the meal. Not because there was some mistake, not because the fish seller lost your order, but because that whitefish needed to be on your Shabbos table. You are guided, you are manipulated, you are helped by G-d to get to where your job is; but what you do once you find yourself in that location is up to you. Hagar lost her chance. She was guided into the desert, and, instead of releasing Kedusha there, she despaired and felt lost. We can learn from her mistake and never get lost, not in location and not in mindfulness in the journeys through our daily lives. Whether you are standing three feet deep in water during a flood moment in your basement, whether you are holding a colicky baby, whatever the moment or location, Hashgacha Pratis [Divine Direct Intervention] brought you to this point because there is a spark of Kedusha in this moment, because there is a potential for you to make that spot, that ordeal, that journey spiritual. Release that Kedusha, my friend, let it be free to shine.