When we say an event in our lives helped us grow, what exactly does that mean?
There are intuitive ways of understanding it, but, let’s try and see from a place of understanding the spiritual structure of our lives what it means. The reason is that understanding the structure when we are in the middle of a challenge the next time can help us cling to the wisdom of what we need to do.
Lets look at Avraham Aveinu, who had ten tests. His mission was that he recognized Hashem and rectified what Adom had originally had in mind to do when he chose to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – to come closer to the darkness and remember there is Hashem and serve Him even though darkness surrounds him. Each test that Avraham went through helped him bring Hashem’s mercy deeper into his heart and into his speech and deeds.
From here we can learn that when we are going through a test, it is because Hashem is giving us an opportunity to draw light (kindness, mercy, mitzvahs) into the darkness from a higher world.
How do you feel about saying it this way – that growing means reaching into the natural darkness and moving the boundary of darkness back, conquering inner space for light to enter.
Notice that growing would not be the correct term for becoming more adept at moving matter within the darkness itself. That would be an iteration of a different term, such as personal power.
And, in fact, that is the struggle we have when faced with our challenges…shall we seek tools of personal power that sociologically appear to help us achieve our goals in time and space? Or shall we search for the purpose for which Hashem sent the challenge, so that we may change something of our heart and push darkness away by drawing real light deeper into our speech and deeds?
These two do not have to be in conflict, but they often are. Usually one compromises the other because when utilizing personal power, often Hashem is not in the center of our minds. When Hashem IS in the center of our minds and we use personal power, THAT gives us the best chance for success.
Hashem helps us serve Him when we are trying to do His Will.
But lets take this totally inward.
Lets remember the foggy glasses that we have, the knot of things we feel we lack that trigger us towards time and space goals.
Within our reactions to lack lie the characteristics that Hashem wishes for us to slowly exchange light for darkness.
He gives us a world with lack in order to give us opportunity cry out for Hashem, to ask for His Help.
Yet often we go around without the understanding of the root characteristic that is being triggered by the lack and instead of crying out for Hashem’s help, we just cry and cry. We feel lost in the dark.
We can, even though the actual characteristic is hidden from our consciousness, still have the seichel to cry out for Hashem’s Help – that He should please help us put Him in the center and reassociate our souls with His 13 attributes of mercy over whatever is blocking us from doing so. We can start there.
Year after year, we can bring light a little deeper into our heart.
And, if we are fortunate, at some point the core, the root of the midda in need of correction, will come into focus. We can find the central theme that is at the root of every challenge, the core issue Hashem wants us to find and bring light to rather than be trapped in the dark.
One of the most important things parents can do for their children is to give them good education and a loving way to calm themselves down. Little children have no seichel nor do they have the ability to regulate their feelings. Parents teach, discipline with fairness, and, by being patient and calm, parents give children a way to internally acquire from the parents so that they can develop a healthy way to calm themselves down.
So too with Hashem. We are His children. He gives us the Torah and He disciplines us. He constantly loves us, is forgiving of us, is patient with us, and is merciful to us. Hashem only does what is good for us, only what we need in order to learn how to “self-regulate.” We can walk clinging to Hashem Who loves us and not want to lose that connection for any reason, because it helps us self regulate. The simchas hachaim that we can have in trusting in Hashem is the greatest pleasure a person can experience in life.
In order to embark on this type of journey, to do battle with the natural forces of darkness and conquer inner space with light that shines forth, we need knowledge of the soul and the purpose of our lives.
The Ramchal has written in detail about this journey in Mesillas Yesharim. The Tanya draws on the teachings of the Arizal and others to explain more about the spiritual structure of our lives and how to pray to Hashem for help. Likewise, Rabbi Ittamar Schwartz teaches this – see www.bilvavi.net
The importance of speaking prayerfully to Hashem about our faults and mistakes at the same time we exude from our hearts a feeling of loving Hashem and asking for His help IS the way we do the work of pushing the darkness back and drawing in light. Success is up to Hashem, but if we make the effort, what energized the darkness will be drawn instead to loving Hashem, and we will have offered to return these sparks to their Owner. Hashem has mercy on us and accepts and our soul can become unified to serve Him. All the elements in the world are affected by our efforts in ways described by the Nefesh HaChaim.
Practically speaking, we must be willing to see the task at hand. That means if I feel a lack, it means I have been placed on the battlefield and to describe the pain in detail while feeling love for Hashem. Our emunah is in our mouths. This crying out turns the circumstances stimulating our sorrows into vessels that can receive Hashem’s mercy and then shine the unified light, moving the darkness back.
May our love for Hashem and our emunah help us self-regulate so that we can open our mouths and ask for His Help. And may we soon see a new light in the world.