2 Kislev 5778 / Monday, November 20, 2017 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
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More than a Feeling    

More than a Feeling

Emuna doesn't mean passive acceptance of whatever happens in life. Indeed, an emuna-seeking person is very pro-active, trying to get closer to Hashem...


Some people are confused about emuna and how it works. I have a friend for whom emuna is a new concept and she's trying to figure it out. It seems to me that she's equating emuna with passivity.


Jews believe that whatever Hashem gives us is for our good. However that doesn't exclude efforts to improve our circumstances. We aspire to a feeling of gratitude for challenging situations but that doesn't mean we have to like them. It doesn't mean that we shouldn't work and pray for the situation to change.


When we acknowledge that a difficult test is for our best, what we mean is that the ensuing actions and attitudes we undertake to handle the situation can bring us closer to Hashem. With emuna we can experience His divine intervention in our attempts to solve our problems and in the ways He helps. We can accept our suffering and come closer to Him through our prayers and our humility. We can find the “good” within the “bad.”


When my daughter Shani had Sudden Cardiac Arrest, I knew it was God's will. Yet we did as much as we could to facilitate her physical and cognitive healing. Besides her weekly therapy sessions, my husband and I enrolled Shani in jewelry making to help her control her hand tremors, horse-back riding for balance and confidence, swimming, cooking classes, remedial schooling and trips abroad. None of this contradicted our emuna. In fact we needed emuna to provide her with all of these things. It took strength and money and Hashem gave us both. He also gave me the fortitude to be with Shani through her pain at suddenly being different from all her friends, through the pain of being different from who she used to be.


Spiritually we had to grapple with the reality that her illness was good for her and good for us. The first years following her SCA were almost crippling in intensity. My emotions were overwhelming and the fact I didn't have a nervous breakdown is a testimony to the strength of emuna.


But even with emuna, I still suffered and I still hated the fact that my healthy, lovable teenager had become someone I didn't recognize, someone I liked a lot less. Her mood swings could be devastating and it broke my heart again and again.


What I didn't do was feel guilty and think “Well if I had emuna her illness wouldn't shatter me and if I had emuna I wouldn't need counseling to deal with my trauma. I was grateful for any help we could get and we got a lot. And it paid off. Shani is now a healthy and capable young woman and we all made it through, not only with our emuna intact, but with our emuna multiplied!


Emuna does not translate into passive acceptance of whatever comes. If there really is nothing to do, than pray and wait patiently. But if there is a way to help yourself or others, then do so.


Back to my friend. She woke up one morning to a kitchen crawling with roaches. After much inner struggle she finally called the exterminator. She felt guilty and disappointed that she lacked the emuna to withstand the roaches until Hashem took them away. Because obviously they were meant to be there and obviously for a good reason.


Now my friend is an intelligent woman. But she was so confused she couldn't think.


Yes the roaches were from God. Yes the situation was good for her. But calling the exterminator is the normal response even if we have tons of emuna. We will never be sure why Hashem put them there but there are  ultimate benefits and it’s part of a master plan.


Some of the benefits might be:


My client could learn to be more careful about leaving food out. Or she may gain confidence that by finding and calling an exterminator she can take control of a situation. Maybe this will encourage other neighbors to deal with their own roach problems, maybe the whole building is infested and will now be cleaned. Maybe the exterminator will discover a problem in her kitchen that she didn't know she had. Maybe this is a simple atonement. Who knows?


And of course she can and should thank Hashem for the roaches. Somehow she needed this unpleasant experience. Does she have to know why? No. Does she need to have emuna? Yes. Does she have to live in a roach infested apartment? You tell me.



* * *

Rebbitzen Yehudit Channen began her career as a Crisis Intervention Counselor in Silver Spring, Md. in the seventies. After moving to Israel, she worked as a marital mediator and social skills instructor for kids. Following the death of a son, Rebbitzen Channen became a certified bereavement counselor and worked with young mothers who had suffered loss. Most recently she worked at the Melabev Center for the memory-impaired, as an activity director and group facilitator for families coping with Dementia.  The Rebbitzen has written for numerous magazines and newspapers and recently led an interactive creative writing course called Connective Writing. Yehudit Channen is the wife of Rabbi Don Channen, Rosh Yeshiva of Keter HaTorah.  They are blessed to have nine children and many grandchildren and live in Ramat Beit Shemesh. Today, Rebbitzen Yehudit Channen is a certified Emuna Therapist for Breslev Israel. You can set up an appointment with her by contacting staff@breslev.co.il

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  2 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  What a beautifully written article.
Yehudit Herman8/6/2017 12:21:30 PM
  Love your articles!
Alejandra7/18/2017 11:38:35 AM

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