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Whada ya know


רפואה שלימה ליצחק בן יהודות בתוך שאר חולי ישראל

We’re afraid. But what are we afraid of? If we look deep inside ourselves we might find, as did I, that many of us are simply afraid of the unknown. Things are crumbling around us, and we don’t know what tomorrow will look like; certainly not a month or two down the road. That’s a very uncomfortable feeling, because we want to be in control of our lives and in control of our destiny. The truth is, as so many more of us can admit now, we are not at all in control of our destiny. We aren’t in control of anything. And even though we say gam zu l’tovah and baruch Hashem in every second sentence, we’re not really holding there. This is difficult for us. This is scary.

Many people who have experienced breakthroughs in therapy will tell you that the moment they started to heal was when they allowed themselves to face the old pain. Their real baggage wasn’t only the old pain or trauma, but the repeated stubbornness of  covering for it. The fear and anxiety of having that old pain play out again caused them to overcompensate in other ways and disturb their daily life on so many levels. When they got the courage to stand off against their old feelings, even if just to notice them and be compassionate to them, they soon realized that they personally inflated their fears to protect themselves. “That wasn’t as bad as I thought”, they end up saying.

Similarly, those who are looking to grow in their meditative-spiritual experiences many times also encounter difficulty because they want to force the issue. They’re looking to make it happen, when the only way to have the experience is by letting it happen. Once you desire it, you’ve entered the ring. But the only way to fight is by exiting the ring (bittul ha’yeshus) and letting your soul shine on its own.

The truth is, as opposed to the “go getter” mentality that is praised on the streets, and unfortunately has been adopted in our schools too, in all realms of spirituality the only way to excel is to allow yourself to be led. Avraham Avinu’s first spiritual test was to leave his homeland “to the place that I’ll show you”. He didn’t know where he was going. Hashem lovingly recalls the Israelites’ chessed n’urayich (the love of their youth), because they followed Him into the barren desert out of Egypt in pure faith. And what about the study of Talmud? When adults attempt to learn it for the first time they are often frustrated by the Talmud’s way of exploring unnecessary and irrelevant questions. You finally crack the difficulty of the language, the odd references, the back and forth, the sometimes outlandish answers and you realize that all that effort wasn’t even for a final resolution. Because that’s the point:

Life is meant to be unresolved.

Rebbe Nachman said (Tinyana 7) that “תַּכְלִית הַיְדִיעָה אֲשֶׁר לא נֵדַע“, the highest knowledge is not to know at all. This is the aspect of the highest sefira called כֶּתֶר, (a crown [like corona?]). It’s also called Ayin, (nothing), or מָה, (what), because it’s not knowable to us. There are many facets of this idea but, most simply, the only way to grow is to remain humble. Humility is being open to receive; not needing to manipulate everything around us.

Our greatest holiday is Purim, where we are meant to throw away our need to know. In that space, there’s no understanding. Good is the same as evil. No one is as you know them, and that’s ok.

Reb Nosson writes that the higher the tzaddikim reach, the more they realize they don’t know. The Rebbe said, if anyone says they think they know what’s going on, it’s a proof they know nothing at all.

It’s ok not to know. We’re not supposed to know. We should ask, we should try to understand, but ultimately we won’t know. But there’s comfort in that too. Typically, we’re trying to govern everything and it complicates things and gives us anxiety, because we honestly don’t know if we made the right moves.  But when we let go of control, and allow ourselves to be led, without knowing or understanding how it will end up, it’s quite liberating.

It’s clear that we’re being led here. Hashem has taken the driving wheel. So we don’t know the destination, So what? Just try and relax, we’re in good hands.

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