For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises up again, but the wicked stumble under adversity(Proverbs 24:16)
Another year has gone by so quickly with Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur upon us once again. This period is an opportune time for taking stock of ourselves; our thoughts and actions, owning up to our mistakes and resolving to correct these errors. This is the concept of teshuva, repentance, in a nutshell.
This past year was a most challenging one for everyone, fraught with a multitude of difficulties on every level imaginable. How we proceed into the future depends on our recognition of these struggles as HaShem’s Will, knowing that it is all for our good. But just because someone has specific tribulations at the moment does not mean they must continue suffering. Rather, he or she can use it as a catalyst for spiritual growth thereby cleansing their souls, fulfilling their purpose in life and ultimately ending the anguish.
Rebbe Nachman, may his memory be for a blessing, said “The day you were born was the day G-d decided the world could not continue to exist without you.”
Each one of us is given a very special task, uniquely and individually designed. Yet, how do we attempt to accomplish our goals if we can’t even grasp what we are doing here? Few people, if any, these days, have ruach hakodesh, Divine or prophetic inspiration, so we must try to decipher our mission using the gifts G-d gave us to facilitate it. By doing hitbodedut, talking to G-d in our own words each and every day, we can try to gain a speck of understanding as to our proper direction. Taking a respected Rabbi as a spiritual guide will assist in important life decisions as well. Our success depends on nullifying our own desires, thereby accepting the word of the Tzaddik over our own. Once we acknowledge that "there is no purpose or goal in the world other than to do G-d's will" (Kitzur Likutey Moharan II:7) it will be easier to tame our overinflated egos and the ordeals will be easier to bear.
A story told of King Solomon illustrates an important message. King Solomon sent his loyal minister, Nathanial, on what he believed was an impossible assignment in order to humble him. He asked him to find a ring the King could wear at an upcoming festive reception that, upon viewing, would make the happy man sad and the sad man happy. Nathanial searched high and low without success. The day of the party, with G-d’s help, he stumbled upon a poor merchant selling wares on an old carpet in Jerusalem. After hearing the description, the owner leaned over to retrieve a ring sitting in the back corner of the display. The ring was engraved with the words “gam ze ya’avor”, “This too shall pass”. Delighted by his find, Nathaniel bought it and rushed back to present it to the King already in the midst of entertaining his guests.As King Solomon looked at the ring, a wide smile brightened his face. His servant indeed found the perfect ring.
If someone is experiencing agonizing hardships, reading these words would remind him not to despair for ‘this too shall pass’ and conversely, when everything seems too good to be true, don’t become complacent for all is fleeting. The lesson we can learn is that nothing lasts forever. We must not be arrogant and overconfident for it is HaShem Who is running the world and all our blessings can be taken away in an instant. Yet nothing is hopeless for with tefilla (prayer), tzedaka (charity) and tshuva even the most dismal situations can miraculously turn around.
In these days of awe, when we are personally inscribed for another year of life or death, for sickness or for health, poverty or wealth, for peace or turmoil, the very existence of the earth also hangs in the balance. The nations of the world poise themselves for a possible war in the Middle East which has the potential to explode into a global catastrophe. Only with HaShem’s help and our unwavering loyalty to Him, will we merit to be saved from what our enemies hope is the impending annihilation of Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) and the Jewish People, chas v’shalom. No one is perfect, but if we do our best to strengthen our emuna, and hold on to our Torah and its Laws with all our might, it will help us through this trying time.
“If you see that the crisis seems too overwhelming, immediately you will be redeemed”. (Yalkut Tehillim V.680)
May it be the desire of HaKadosh Baruch Hu, the Blessed One Holy is He, that this New Year will bring us gladness and light, contentment and joy and an end to all our sorrow.
Shana Tova U’Metuka – A Good and Sweet Year.
May we all be sealed in the Book of Life!