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Through the Wringer    

Through the Wringer

Most of us have at one time or another asked ourselves the age-old question “What am I doing here?” We get an education, we work, we strive to better – for what?


Most of us have at one time or another asked ourselves the age-old question “What am I doing here?” We get an education, we work, we strive to better ourselves materially so we can provide for our family or just to ‘enjoy’ our lives with an annual or bi-annual vacation, a nice car, trips to the theater or ball game and lots of nice, in-fashion clothes and accessories.  At the end of the day, though, these objects and tangible goals are not even remotely fulfilling so we repeat the same endless cycle of trying to satiate a need which cannot be satisfied. The reason is simple - our physical body and all its accoutrements actually need only minimal maintenance while our neshama (soul) requires the majority of our efforts which we fail to deliver. Our soul longs for spiritual nourishment despite our seeming mental aversion to it. The resourceful yetzer hora (evil inclination) has his craft down to perfection, convincing us that we are better off without all the regimented rules of religion. Don’t be fooled by this false notion.  We were born into this world to fulfill a purpose; correcting and purifying our souls thereby growing closer to HaShem. This can only be accomplished with strengthened emuna and a lot of hard work. Until we comprehend that fact and act upon it, we will never be content.
The good news is that HaShem constantly guides us on a righteous path, as long as we are willing to accept His help.  While it may sound illogical, the times we are in the most distress and undergoing major difficulties is when G-d is pushing us forward, encouraging us to call out to Him or to rectify sins which will help us grow spiritually.  Rabbi Lazer Brody, shlita (may he live long and good days), compares the process to a small child getting his clean Shabbat clothes full of mud right before Shabbat. A loving mother will hurriedly take the child to the bathtub and scrub him down to rid him of all the dirt. She may be a little harsh at times, but she only wants what is best for him just as our Father in Heaven does everything for our own good.  Rebbe Nachman zt’l (may the memory of the righteous [Tzaddik] be for a blessing) taught “When a person knows that everything that happens to him is for the best, this is a taste of the World to Come.”(Likutay Moharan 4)
My Grandmother, a’h (aleha haShalom, may she be at peace), used to have a wringer washer to do her laundry. She refused to buy the newest automatic machine which would have made her life easier. Instead, she preferred this older method where she was able to personally see that each piece of laundry was inserted into the cleaning cycle properly, literally put through the wringer. As a young child, I was awed watching the clothes being fed into one side of the wringer, puffed full of soapy water, only to come out the other side flat as a pancake and clean as the driven snow. This is a good analogy for the cleansing of all our sins through our trials and tribulations in life. G-d is repeatedly putting us through the wringer to ensure that we eventually will come out pure and unsoiled. He lovingly sends us individually chosen hardships with the desired result of repairing any blemish on our neshama which may hinder us from completing our mission in life.  By reaching out to HaShem in personal prayer (hitbodedut) during our hour of need, we also forge a deeper bond with Him.
So when we are afflicted with a terrible difficulty and feel weighed down with the heavy sludge, we must try to focus on the positive. While it is not pleasant being put through the wringer, if we sincerely give thanks to HaShem, we will soon be clean as a whistle and one step closer to our ultimate purpose. If that isn’t adequate incentive, please note that often the genuine act of praising G-d for whatever befalls us is enough to reverse the decree entirely. Suddenly the suffering will end completely and we can go miraculously from the soiled laundry bin straight to the neatly folded spotless pile.
Additionally, it should be of some comfort to understand that we are not alone in this. We each share the burden of the collective transgressions of mankind as well as our own private, blunders and misjudgments. Like doing laundry or any other daily chore, if we share the load, it becomes lighter and easier to bear. The task at hand is to unify in kindness and compassion, assisting one another regardless of background, social status or appearance, with whatever means is at our disposal, through the wisdom of the Torah.  In this way, we, G-d’s children, can achieve the prophetic opportunity of being a Light unto the Nations. Then the answer to the question “What am I doing here?” will become obvious as HaShem’s Majesty and Light will finally be revealed in all His Glory and ‘the Knowledge of G-d will fill the world as the water covers the seas’ (Isaiah 11.9). 

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  1 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  wonderful article
yosefben9/22/2011 7:22:54 PM

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