With Passover coming soon, we are reminded of the many miracles that Hashem performed for us: He brought plagues upon our oppressors; He helped us to escape by splitting the sea; He sustained us in the wilderness; He gave us the Torah and He helped us to conquer all of the nations that were living in Israel.
Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Linder, at Rabbi Shalom Arush's Yeshiva asked: Why is it that Hashem did not perform one more miracle for us by helping us win the war against the nation of Amalek? - What was different about that war?
The answer, says Rabbi Linder, is that in the Torah's description of the war against Amalek there is no mention, in the Torah, of us attempting to subdue and conquer the territory of the Amalekites. The war with Amalek was a war without weapons or the conquest of cities - It was not a physical war at all. The war with Amalek was a spiritual war which continues to this day.
The question remains: Why is it that Hashem did not create a miracle and remove Amalek from our midst for all time. Why is it that Hashem only saved us from physical war but when it came to spiritual war Hashem refused to perform miracles for His people?
A person who knows the answer to this question understands that the very purpose of his life is to wage war - he understands that if Hashem did not leave us with Amalek to fight against we would not be able to grow at all. Hashem understands that we cannot truly be alive unless we are constantly at war against Amalek which is the manifestation of the evil inclination. The only way that we can achieve our purpose in life is by battling against evil which has the potential to harm and even defeat us, G-d forbid.
Danny suffered for years from crippling attacks of anxiety and panic. The anxiety was so severe, that there were many normal activities that he was not able to carry out. There were many situations that he needed to avoid for fear of an attack. Danny discovered that clinical hypnosis could help to reduce his anxiety and enable him to function better but life was still far from easy for him: There were conflicts with his wife, troubles with his kids, business worries and other unhealthy temptations.
Danny learned how to relax with self-hypnosis, but the more he relaxed the more he saw "new" problems that he had not seen before. For example, when his anxiety was severe he never noticed how manipulative he was of his wife and family. He did not see how he pushed others to do things that he did not want to do for himself. When he was preoccupied with his fears he was blind to how little time he gave to his children and how little he did for others. Hypnosis relieved Danny of the panic that caused him to run out of synagogue; avoid driving his car and left him gasping for air - but Danny's dependence on hypnosis and unwillingness to wage his own fight surfaced as his next therapeutic challenge. Without the will to fight, Danny was unable to achieve humility and concern for others. There were no "self-affirmations", "mantras", or other "self-hypnotic techniques" that could relieve Danny of his arrogance and self-centeredness. There were no medications for the fatal consequences of thinking that there were two realities - himself and Hashem.
Danny still has some residual anxiety but he deals with life very differently now. When he begins to worry his first thought is not about how he can hypnotize himself to stay relaxed and calm. Instead he asks himself how he can be of service to other people. Danny takes this idea so seriously that he removed the internet from his home so that he could stay more focused on spending quality time with his children and helping his wife with the chores.
Danny is battling the evil inclination by strangling it with its own strength. When the evil inclination tells Danny that his wife and not he should be the one to pick up their daughter from school, because he has more important work to do, and its icy cold outside, he realizes that the right thing to do is to get up put on his coat and go get her himself. Now Danny thanks Hashem for his five beautiful children and enjoys them more knowing that they will not always be together.
By fighting against the root causes of anxiety - namely self-blame, arrogance, and disconnection from Hashem's Will, Danny is defeating his evil inclination. As Danny's approach to life has become much more offensive than defensive he is becoming a more vital alive and growing person.
Who understands our arrogance better than our Creator? Our longterm challenge is to rid ourselves of it!
Here is a beautiful example: We all know that on Passover we can only eat un-leavened bread known as matza. One explanation for why we eat matza is because regular leavened bread is symbolic of the evil inclination which seeks to distract us from Hashem by puffing us up with self-centeredness and arrogance. Matza, on the other hand, contains the potential for humility and self-sacrifice.
Here is the point - Matza can only be made from a grain with the potential to rise (to become haughty). We cannot achieve holiness by fulfilling the commandment to eat matza with a food that has no potential to rise and spiritually harm us. We can only enter into holiness with matza by battling against the potential evil within it. It is only through vigilantly supervising and guarding the matza from the initial planting of the grain until it reaches our table (so that it does not rise and become evil) that we gain purity and holiness from eating it. Matza without the ability to become chometz (leavened) is not matza at all. It presents us with no challenge. It cannot do anything to help us earn the privilege of coming closer to Hashem.
We should all merit to guard ourselves as carefully as we guard our matza.
Have a Happy and Kosher Passover!
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Zev Ballen, LCSW has been a practicing psychotherapist for 32 years. He is licensed in Israel and the State of New York. Zev has the endorsements of prominent Gadolei Yisrael such as the Nikolsburger Rebba, Shlita, Reb Yitzchok Fagelstock, Shlita, The Kasaner Rebbe of Forshay, Shlita, Rav Shalom Arush, Shlita, and Rabbi Lazer Brody, Shlita. He resides with his family in Jerusalem where he learns in Rav Arush’s Kollel and maintains a part-time practice. You can write to Zev Ballen at: email@example.com or call him at: 845-362-8600 (US line) or 054-840-9499 (Israeli line). You're welcome to visit Zev's person blog, Emuna Therapy.