Imagine you received a brilliant, sparkling, 10-carat, VVS1, pear-shaped diamond. You know, the kind that makes your (my) eyes almost pop out of their (my) sockets. What would you do with it? Would you make a stunning necklace of it and wear it once a year to the Queen’s Ball? Would you put it in your personal safe and take it out every day to admire the sparkling rainbow of colors dancing on it in the sunlight? Would you make it into a gorgeous ring and subsequently have your driving record and car ruined because you’re “Blinded By The Light”? Would you put it away at the bank’s safe, so no one would be able to get near it? Or would you take it outside to the nearest playground and kick it around in the dirt? What? Definitely not the last one? Sounds like a stupid question, right?
Well, guess what- many of us do this stupidity every single day. We take our diamonds, the most perfect, precious things we have, and we drag them through the mud- literally. By now I assume you know what diamonds I am referring to- the tiny, sparkling, perfect part of Hashem that is within us. Our souls.
There is a great story told only as Rabbi Wallerstein can tell it. It’s a love story that ends in broken hearts: A young man and young woman were looking for their respective soulmate. Eventually, they were set up together. They instantly fell in love and married shortly after. The woman happened to be blind, but this did not at all detract from the husband’s love for her. He devoted his life to caring for her in any way he could. Each morning he would bring her a hot breakfast, lovingly prepared, to her bedside. He would take her for leisurely strolls in the evenings, and they would have intimate chats together. He was a husband every woman dreams of.
Eventually, a ground-breaking medical procedure was innovated- eye transplants were finally a reality! The couple was beyond excited, until they discovered there was a 20 year waiting period. Devastated and heartbroken, they returned back to their normal routines. In reality, the husband was more heartbroken than the wife. But one day, their luck changed. The husband burst through the door, waving a paper wildly in his hand, yelling, “WE GOT IN! YOU’RE GETTING THE TRANSPLANT!” The wife almost fainted in joy, and they spent the next hour crying and hugging, thrilled at the new life they were about to share together.
The night before the wife had her transplant, the husband shared a secret with her: “You know, I’m blind too.” The admission nearly knocked the wind right out of her. With the way he took care of her and never complained, she would never have suspected! She realized that now it was her turn to take care of him, and she did- at least for a few months. Eventually, the marriage became strained, and she decided she couldn’t continue on this way.
One afternoon, he returned home when the phone rang. The wife didn’t have the heart to speak to him in person, so she called him on the phone: “My darling husband, I can never thank you enough for the way you loved me and took care of me. But now that I can see, I realize how much I have been missing out on life. I want to travel the world and experience a life I never dreamed of- but I can’t do that with you. Please understand.” He was devastated, but he didn’t show it. He agreed to move out by that evening.
Later that night, she returned home to an empty house. He had left a note for her on the bed. It read, “My dear wife, I respect your decision to leave me. Know that I love you and have always loved you. But those eyes....take care of them...because they were once mine...”
Rabbi Wallerstein continues: “There is a posuk in Bereshit, ‘And God created man from the dirt, and He breathed into him a soul of life.’ God gave us a transplant- He gave us His soul. And what do we do with that soul?? We tell Him, ‘Yeah, the soul is great, but I can’t be bothered with You! I need to see the world! I need to be busy with my Blackberry! I need to be busy with Facebook! I need to be busy with TV and making plans for Saturday night! I need to be busy with everything but YOU!’”
Hashem gave us those eyes! Hashem gave us this soul! And what do we do with it?? We’re using our eyes to covet what’s not ours! We’re using our eyes to stare at forbidden images! We’re using our hearts to desire things and people that don’t belong to us! We’re using our mouths, the greatest instruments we have to connect to Hashem, to speak worthless gossip and evil speech! We’re using our time, each precious moment, to squander on Facebook! Each second that Hashem is sustaining us, we’re using it for complete and utter nonsense! Is this what Hashem created us for? To go on extended lunch dates and hours of mindless shopping?? To waste an entire Sunday watching football?? What are we here for??
How much louder does Hashem have to yell at us? He’s literally cornering us everywhere we turn. He’s squeezing us financially, He’s threatening us with “natural disasters”, He’s holding nuclear weapons over our heads, having put them in the hands of crazed psychopaths. What are we doing with all of these messages? Are we continuing on with our lives as if everything will return back to normal? Are we even bothering to look at where the messages are coming from? Or are we blaming politics or global warming? Or are we so full of nerve that we’re actually blaming Hashem instead of trying to figure out what He’s telling us?
Sometimes I wonder why He even bothers with us. I mean, after thousands of years, not only have we not corrected ourselves, but we’re literally at the 49th level of impurity. One more level down and there’s no turning back. Why, oh why, does Hashem keep us around?
There is only one reason: because we are His children, and He loves us more than we can ever imagine. All He wants us to do is have a connection to Him. All we have to do is speak with Him a little bit every day. Is that really too much to ask? Imagine your child away at college- don’t you long to hear his voice at least once a day, at least just to know everything’s okay? Isn’t it the natural inclination of every parent to want their children to check in with them? What would happen if your kid didn’t call you for a few days? Would you start calling him? Sending emails and texts? Would you notify University Security if he didn’t call you back after a week? Would you be banging down his door if all of your attempts to reach him had failed? Of course you would!
Why should Hashem work any differently?
With the world literally a step away from total chaos, Hashem is desperately trying to get our attention; to get us to return to Him. Now is the time we must do sincere introspection- have we been using our lives to get closer to Hashem? Or have we been using the life Hashem gave us to run away from Him?