Rachel had a perfect driving record. Suddenly and very unexpectedly she had had a series of five car accidents, all within the past several months. What's even more disturbing is that each accident has been progressively more dangerous than the one that preceded it. Her last two accidents were with very unfriendly Muslim drivers causing significant damage to both cars. Rachel was also ticketed on numerous occasions during this time for parking violations which is also not typical of her.
Moshe, Rachel's distant and self-absorbed husband didn't make much of all this until the fifth and last incident which came just weeks after the fourth. At this point, Moshe did something that was quite atypical for him. Instead of simply blaming his wife for her carelessness , he began to WONDER what the meaning of all this was! It was precisely Moshe's "wonder" that led him to the most dramatic all- encompassing change of his life.
As you can see, Moshe had already reached the second step of "wonder" on this spiritual tool for growth I developed based on the teachings of my beloved Rebbe, Rabbi Shalom Arush. I call it SWAP:
S – Means we STOP ourselves – we interrupt our natural tendency to view the situation as “bad.”
W - Means we WONDER what the positive purpose is that Hashem is sending us.
A - Means we find an ALTERNATIVE way of behaving that also fulfills Hashem’s purpose but without the dysfunctional symptoms.
P - Means that we PRACTICE the new behavior - first mentally and then in actuality.
When I met Moshe, it was clear that his usually unflappable exterior had been deeply pierced. He appeared lost and frightened. Obsessive worries and fears about Rachel's safety intruded into Moshe's mind. He couldn't concentrate on his work and wasn't sleeping properly. Never before had Moshereally felt how much Rachel meant to him. For the first time in his marriage, Moshe was aware of how much he truly loved and cared about Rachel and how great was his need to be connected to her no matter what.
Moshe didn't understand what was happening to him spiritually, but he knew that his wife was in real danger and he had to do something. Something was crystallizing in his mind. Moshe was getting closer to a decision:
Moshe thought: "I simply can't let her drive!"
The yezter:(the Evil Inclination) countered: "C'mon Moshe. That's ridiculous. Do you really think you can bully Rachel into not driving? She'll never agree; she's far too independent for that; and even if she stops, for now, how long can you force this on her?
Moshe: (somehow gaining more inspiration from the yetzer's attack) "I admit I can't force her to stop driving - even for a minute - but Hashem certainly can - and Hashem loves me and is going to help me to do the right thing!
Yezter:(trying another tact) Moshe! Don't be a fool. Even if your wife agrees to this absurdity. From where will find the time to chauffeur her everywhere? Do you have any idea of how many errands she'll need from you daily? You're not a schlepper, Moshe, you'll exhaust yourself in no time. Besides, you are already pitifully behind in your work. How much longer will your boss tolerate your incompetence before he simply replaces you. Then, without a job, how helpful will you be to your wife? You think you have problems now? She'll hate you!
Moshe was losing ground to the powerful Angel (the yetzer); he couldn't keep pace with the yetzer's clever logic. Feeling overwhelmed. Moshe surrendered logic and switched his strategy to EMUNA. Moshe stopped fighting and simply made a decision based on Faith. It was a key decision that changed his life forever. In that moment Moshe grew so huge there was tumult in Heaven and he instantly received a veritable avalanche of Divine Assistance.
Moshe decided, from that moment, that Rachel was the most precious gift he would ever have. Moshe knew that he must stand ready to pay any price to prove his love for Rachel. He would refuse to leave this world without achieving this. Come what may, Moshe planned to devote all his energy to demonstrating to his devoted wife, Rachel, who does incessant loving-kindnesses for him, that she was more important to him than anything else.
Rachel was angered by Moshe's suggestion that she not drive. So Moshe changed his tact to simply volunteering to drive his wife wherever she wanted to go. Rachel's protests have all but stopped due to the enormous outpouring of love and protective care that Moshe lavishes upon her - qualities that she had resigned herself to thinking that her husband didn't possess. For the first time in her married life, Rachel no longer feels invisible and alone.
Initially, Moshe thought that there was a severe decree against his wife in Heaven. He wanted to reverse the decree and to protect his wife from harm. As a result, he received much more than this. He and Rachel have been blessed with a love that even Angels will never know.
It all started with one simple behavioral change - becoming Rachel's driver. Moshe then saw years of pain and anguish disappear. His power was unlocked. His unsuccessful "blueprint" for life was re-written; his obsession with himself and his individual problems was gone! Now he is fully living the life of passion, love and Truth that he was meant to live.
How is this possible, that one behavioral change could transform every aspect of a man's life?
The answer is that the one change Moshe made was the exact change that Hashem was looking for from him. Moshe committed himself to that change and Hashem has blessed him beyond belief.
Moshe's courage and commitment to putting his wife first has generalized and spread into his other endeavors as well. Whenever a "tough" decision arises. He automatically wonders: what does Hashem want me to do in this situation? By using the SWAP tool Moshe automatically asks himself the right questions. Consequently, he always knows what Hashem wants in every situation.
Rachel is still not completely convinced that there was a Divine decree upon her but it hardly matters to her now. Every once in a while she jokingly suggests that maybe they should ask Rav Arush if she can return to driving. Rachel continues to refrain herself from driving due to the joy and love she shares by spending more time with her husband.
Here are some positive affirmations that I learned from my beloved Rebbe, Rabbi Shalom Arush. In addition to the SWAP tool, Moshe continues to use these affirmations every day. Whether you are a man or a women you can use them too:
* "Please Hashem, help me to always make my wife (or husband) first place in my mind and action."
* "Please Hashem, prepare me to sincerely demonstrate to my wife/husband my willingness to sacrifice anything for her/him."
* "Please Hashem, help me to seize every moment to remind my wife/husband that she's/he's more important to me than anything."
* "Please Hashem, I wish to strongly believe that giving my wife/husband the time she/he needs is the secret to my success."
* "Please Hashem, when I come in the door, remind me to always greet my wife/husband in a loving, animated way with sweet words."
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Dr. Zev Ballen, Psy.D. has been a practicing psychotherapist for more than 30 years. He is the founder and developer of Emuna Therapy, a faith-based method of counseling based exclusively on the teachings of Rabbi Shalom Arush. Dr. Zev has the endorsements of Gadolei Yisrael such as the Nikolsburger Rebba, Rabbi Yitzchok Fagelstock, Rabbi Shalom Arush, and Rabbi Lazer Brody. You can see Dr. Zev's live video broadcast every Wednesday at 5pm Israel time here on breslev.co.il. You can write in with questions to Dr. Zev at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can call him at: 845-362-8600 (US) or 054-840-9499 (Israel). Dr. Zev resides in Jerusalem, with his family, where he learns in Rav Arush’s Kollel and maintains a part-time private practice. You're also welcome to visit Dr. Zev's personal blog, Emuna Therapy.