Yesterday was Parshas Zachor and this coming Thursday is Purim, may we all come to feel the joy and Simcha of the day with clarity.
The awareness of Hashem’s omnipotence and lovingkindness is often not apparent. When we hear of losses of loved ones, of illness, of suffering, of deep poverty and financial strife, and we see the stress and personal pain of those experiencing challenges, how can we feel joy and Simcha?
This is an age-old question, and Torah has an age-old answer.
The answer is that there is nothing in the world except Hashem, Whose forces blow through us and around us and fill the world. The challenge is that because we have free will, the forces we experience as our unique selves consider time and space as the playing field of choice. It is easy to be myopic about the direction we wish for things to go. Obviously we want what is going to feel good and pleasurable in our own eyes, meaning comfort, health, immortality, success and everything that looks pleasurable to the eye. We may go so far as to feel that others are insensitive to our despair by ignoring or overlooking circumstances they might be helpful with. With our index finger pointed towards something in the outer external world, four of our fingers are pointing to our bodies! WE are the focus of our concern. For this reason, when things don’t go the way we wish and we feel stressed and frustrated, the forces within us get stuck in a traffic jam in our heart and body. WE thought we could achieve a particular outcome and wanted it and strove for it and Hashem said no. That can leave us with the effort we were making frustrated from reaching the objective, and that leads to despair, UNLESS, we remember something crucial.
The crucial thing to remember is that the target of our will in every instance is to connect or re-connect the forces within us to Hashem’s Will and lovingkindness. When we are willing to consider a totally different approach to the management of our thoughts and emotions, namely that Hashem fills all the world including what is happening in our lives, the stirring of difficult and negative emotions, including tragic turns, can take on a different dimension from despair.
Middos are measurements of characteristics but those characteristics have power and force to do the work of that midda. For example, chesed, kindness, is a midda, a characteristic, but when it is released into the world, it actually has a force of kindness. Likewise gevurah, strength, has a force within it. Often, if not aware of Hashem’s constant love and will, gevurah can bring us to anger and/or fear, generally because we think we have control over things we do not. And so it goes.
The world has solid, liquid, gas and radioactive elements. These elements are physical. They have characteristics. And those characteristics have forces within them, strength that comes from Hashem.
People are composed of all four of these elements. The forces within us stem from the body, the blood, air and temperature of our physical existence. When there is a mixture of body and soul, it is up to us to “purify” ourselves so that the body reveals the soul. The body receives a soul and is animated by a soul yet the body overrides the desires of the holy soul with the coarseness and imperfections of the body UNLESS we comprehend the purpose of our lifetime.
We are at bat with these elements in every challenge. When we are pointing our fingers outwardly in blame or shame, what is happening with the element of fire? Are we directing it towards serving the vision that we have from our body’s experience? Or are we seeing the opportunity to draw light into the element of fire, improving the force of fire that Hashem uses through out the world to keep the earth at a proper temperature, with proper light, with peace? The task we are being asked to do when we feel anger is to experience the emotion yet remember the intellect’s message to seek out Hashem and bring Him into the moment. He fills all forces. He is the soul of the world.
Bringing Hashem into the moment means that we redefine ourselves and use our free will in a far deeper context than just the surface objectives that appear good to us. We must shift our context and comprehend the service to which we are being called and embrace it, totally trusting Hashem regarding the real circumstances and their potentially upsetting outcomes.
For example, if someone insults us or does us harm and we learn of something that happens to them midda keneged midda, we might at first feel satisfaction of some sort. It does not take much to realize that such a reaction is self-oriented and far from what Hashem wants from us, because every Jew is connected and we are never to be glad for another’s suffering for she is us. In fact, we may be having a test to see how Hashem should judge us for something we did that we are not thinking of right now!
It is our opportunity to bring from our momentary attraction to that self-oriented place the forces that are within it, such as desire, revenge, honor or restoration of honor/image, the satisfaction of speaking ill of another who harms us. What elements do we see? Water, wind, fire….and now what?
We cry out to Hashem that we do not wish to be just lowly creatures seeing our own self interest but instead that what we want is that the force of our self-interest please be re-connected to Him, and that instead of the self-concern, that we rather be able to reveal the deeper truth of Hashem’s compassion and bring that kindness into the dark place in our hearts. All we want is Hashem in our hearts.
Once emotionally connected, our speech and actions will follow suit, with Hashem’s help, and the force of the midda of kindness can come into the world. In this way, we unify the physical with a flow of Divine light.
This is the real task for which we are here. It does not minimize or reverse tragedy or suffering. However, it brings meaning to our struggles and inner peace to our hearts.
The Jewish people have been struggling with bringing into the world a revelation of Hashem’s lovingkindness for thousands of years. May our understanding of the purpose of these struggles and our unyielding yearning to reveal Hashem in this world inspire us in our lives to redirect the forces of despair towards repairing and improving our characteristics. In so doing, we acknowledge Hashem as the King and our love for serving Him. He is True. The rest is up to Him.
May we embrace the primary relationship responsibilities with which we have been blessed with life and may our desire to do so tip the scales so that the lovingkindness of Hashem can be felt. May there be an end to suffering and pain, to death, to illness, to despair by our choice to serve Him from love. May no amount of suffering break our resolve and trust in Him, rendering useless the attacks of those who wish to weaken our dedication to Hashem by busying us with tragedy – may we not receive any more tests.
And may the whole world be blessed and redeemed with the coming of a new light.