I’d like to dedicate today’s post to all of us… but especially those who are dealing with loss or health issues… or both. And I’d like to dedicate today’s post to all of those who were so horribly affected by the terrorist attack and horrific and unprovoked murder in Tel Aviv a few weeks ago, and the brutal tragedy in Orlando.
My own daughter leaves for Israel next week, for a month, and this is not the kind of thing you want in the forefront of her mind… in our minds… in anyone’s mind. This is not the way peace-desiring, civilized people behave.
We realize that at times, life can be a real battle, so hang in there, have faith, be strong.
Let us all truly pray for peace, once and for all and in our lifetime.
“The world you live in and the life you lead can be either Hell or Heaven. It’s totally up to you. In first-century Israel, during the violent and oppressive rule of Rome, the Israelites asked Rachumai: “Rabbi, where is Paradise?” He replied, ‘Here.’”
(Day 78 – Sefer Ha’Bahir, Mishnah 31)
Life is so profoundly beautiful and magnificent… but it can also be profoundly painful.
Life is about joys and heartbreak, and sometimes, almost in the same moment.
The beauty around us…
“When you take your next stroll in the woods, or peer out the window at your lawn try to hear the chanting that resounds around you. All is singing every moment. “How good and how beautiful is it when one is able to hear the song of the grasses.”
(Day 71 – 18th Century Rabbi Nachman Of Breslav, in Likuttei H’MaHaRaN Tania, No 63)
Have you ever been walking out in nature… and there was a breeze, and birds chirping, and the branches of the trees were gently swaying… and the scenery and the whole postcard picture was so stunning and so beautiful… But yet at the same time you felt tears welling up… you felt a sadness, and you didn’t know why.
Or if you are with someone you love, romantic love, or the love of a child or parent… you are immediately engulfed in the presence. And when you hug them, embrace them… You squeeze them so tightly, like you never want to let go. And it is comforting and warm and safe… powerful and meaningful… and then… out of nowhere… tears… start flowing so freely.
Tears of joy, yes, but still… tears.
When you love someone so much, you are immediately smitten… immediately engulfed in their presence… and without any kind of logical pondering… it can switch up on you…
In that moment of pure joy, comes a flood of a whole other emotion. And yes, our emotions are obviously connected… obviously flow from one into the other with great ease and an almost imperceptible motion… the motion of emotions…
And at that very moment, it makes little to no sense… You cannot really understand why this celebratory and positive instance is so quickly interrupted.
If you think about it, and you throw some light and logic on it, it all makes sense…
Subconsciously or even consciously you realize that this magical minute is fleeting and temporal… that you’re not going to be with this person or in this moment forever… That as soon as you move or walk away, or even if you stand still… something is going to change, something is going to be different… something is going to be lost.
But, and this is a glass half full way of looking at it… Something will also be gained as we move forward. We gain distance along the path and knowledge and time… and yet, yes… we also lose time… You see?
Life is always going to be both… the loss and the gain.
And yet while we are in that moment, it is so full and so pure of connection and love that it just pushes up other emotions… all emotions. And that’s what love is… Love is everything… and its power is intense and remarkable.
And that’s life!
The goal is to continually grow and move forward, but it must also be to fully embrace each and every moment, so there is always the possibility of great joy and fulfillment, but also with us being okay with moments that are sad…
Emotions are these crazy things… So are our thoughts, and we rarely have control over them. But our job… our work… our effort IS control and mindfulness and to be so open and present to all of them, that we can follow them and see where they lead us… effortlessly… And then harness them… reign them in… use them for wisdom, instead of letting them use us for chaos…
It is this crazy roller coaster called life and living.
One of the most amazing and profound film moments for me (And yes, it gets me EVERY TIME) comes in the Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandell masterpiece Parenthood. (Watch it with this link… or…)
Grandma: “You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.”
Grandma: “Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!”
Gil: “What a great story.”
Grandma: “I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just interesting to me that a ride could make me so, so frightened, so scared, so sick, so, so excited, and, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.”
We need to know that the “good” and the “bad” all comes from the same place… the Source… Hashem.
And sometimes the “bad” are tests… to let us grow and develop and become the best versions of ourselves that we can possibly be. And it is essential that we recognize that they are tests.
“The more challenging the obstacle you face in life, the more spiritually evolved you will become if you prevail over it. Because it is about effort, not achievement
(First Century Rabbi Ben Hay’hay in Babylonian Talmud, Avot 5:26)
“There is no light as brilliant as that light which manages to emerge from out of the darkness.”
(Sefer Ha’Zohar, Vol. 1, folio 32a and Vol. 3, folio 47b)
“Moments in your life when you feel distant from G-d and feel absent of any desire for the sacred are actually moments in which you are being readied for magnanimous spiritual epiphanies.”
(18th Century Rabbi Tzadok HaKohain in Sefer Tzid’kat HaTzadik, No. 151)
So here’s to life, in all its shapes and forms… to the ups and downs… and to all of us finding bliss and joy, happiness and fulfillment. Living will bring certain pains and heartbreak… It just will.
So let us make our lives matter… Let them be something glorious and beautiful… and let us find that in others. L’Chaim!
All quotes come from Kabbalah 365 by Gershon Winkler.