Let me preface this by saying that studying and learning makes all the difference. It feeds my soul, it nourishes me, and it is my guide as I make my way through this thing we call life… I sound like Prince.
But life can be tricky, and as such I would like to thank Rabbi Shlomo Seidenfeld and Rabbi Avi Rabin for their selfless time, wisdom, kindness and guidance… Rabbi Denbo, who I have met and heard live only once (Need to remedy that) but whose words and teachings are having a huge impact on me… and of course, Rabbi Noah Weinberg, of blessed memory, for having lead the way on so many topics and lessons.
So this happened to me the other day… and the metaphor is right on. I’m driving down the highway (freeway), feeling pretty good… in control… calm…
When suddenly a rock flies out of the back of a guy’s pick up truck and smashes my windshield… A curse flies out of my mouth, faster than that stone, and then frustration and anger and the realization that $300 I don’t have is now going to be spent doing a repair.
It’s the little things… seemingly innocuous… that can send us veering off the path… Well… sending ME off the path. The path, of course, being that calm, joyful, life is great, nothing fazes us, Hashem knows what is best walkway.
Years ago I might have been far less philosophical, and while I was still not happy (REALLY NOT HAPPY) and still questioning the purpose of this unexpected expense… I started to think… No one got hurt… It could have been worse… Maybe Hashem needed me off the road for something far worse would have or might have happened… etc., etc. There was a reason for it I could not possibly know… and while it is a hassle and money out the (pun intended) windshield… it is far from the end of the world.
If we cannot deal with the small problems, the big ones will swallow us whole and completely overwhelm us.
Both Ben and I have brought up Rabbi Denbo’s teachings, where he discusses that a person who has Bitachon (the powerful optimism of having complete faith and trust that everything Hashem does is for the good) lives with an ease and tranquility in the face of trouble… They are not worried and do not get depressed. Wow! Sign me up for that, please!!!
Rabbi Weinberg teaches us to take things in stride, both the good and the bad… to give each holiness, if you will. We must appreciate what we have. Okay… I have a nice car that allowed me to be in it driving on the freeway… some people have cruddy cars or no cars at all… When you drive, things happen. Be careful and safe and always aware of your surroundings. Though ironically I switched lanes to get AWAY from this truck when the damage occurred… even more frustrating. Agh! Clearly I have a way to go to FULLY embrace this important life lesson.
In Way #8, Live With Joy, Rabbi Weinberg says the following:
“If you let little things get to you, your joy will evaporate. When you find yourself worrying over a problem, ask yourself: Is it worth all the negative energy? The choice is yours.”
The Orchot Tzaddikim (15th Century) says: “Joy dwells in a person’s heart when he does not focus on troubles.”
The goal… and I do believe my studying is getting me closer, even if it’s only an inch at a time… is to live with joy… to not sweat the small stuff… to have the tools to deal with the big things… and to strive for joy, bliss and happiness everyday… and Judaism can show us exactly how to do this! Open your mind and your heart and study Torah… study with a Rabbi… with a teacher… with friends… and LIVE WITH JOY! Amen!
And oh yeah… Don’t Worry, Be Happy!