It’s between you and Him!
This is a tricky post to write, but one that I think is important to delve into. While it is probably obvious to most, it is something I am really wrapping my head around these days, for a variety of reasons.I had a friend tell me to always confirm and strengthen my relationship with Hashem, and not to rely on man or organizations. That the ONE, most important relationship was between me and G-d… essentially, with no “middle man.” I never took this to mean I needed to give up my Shul… I have several that I love… Aish (Community Shul), Chabad of West Hills, Chabad of Agoura (Conejo), Or Ami, VOS… all have influenced me in one shape or another.
I did not take this to mean give up my teachers. I have many that I love here, as well, like Rabbi Shlomo Seidenfeld, Rabbi Avi Rabin, Rabbi Shlomo Bistritzky, Howard Witkin, Rabbi Moshe Bryski to name a few…
Know that part of what inspired me to write this post goes to another scenario in another religion, but still… It is something we all must be aware of, careful of… and again… it makes the idea of a strong relationship with G-d even more important… the most important, in fact… because from that stems EVERYTHING ELSE! Once we are connected through our soul to something higher than ourselves, is the moment we can truly connect with and love another. It starts with ourselves and then radiates out. To quote my yoga teacher: “Transformation is an Inside Job!”There is a danger in relying on man… or on an organization. People are flawed. This doesn’t mean that we should not take for ourselves a teacher and a Rabbi, a therapist or a mentor, but it does mean that the one, most important relationship is the one between ourselves and Hashem.
People who we trust can betray us. People who seem holier than anyone we have ever met can fall and falter. This says less about us than it does about them. While we may be naive and misguided and see (or not see) things that are obvious, it is also possible for people to fool us. This is the nature of humanity. There is good, and there is bad.
With Hashem, there is only good. With Hashem, there is only One. Echad. We can easily off-road here and get into an entire, deep and lifelong conversation about “when bad things happen to good people” and so on… We can also throw into the mix when “good” people do bad things…
It messes with us… And in fact, one of the hardest things for me is to give into the answer “I don’t know.” Things, on the surface, seem random and heartbreaking at times… confusing and hard to fully grasp. But I trust in Hashem, believe in Hashem, and why things happen… I truly… do… not… know.
It seems that in this world we have two areas of frustration. The first is with ourselves and the other is with others. We have no control over other people. We get frustrated when they won’t help out or do us a favor, but we also have to realize, we have no idea what is going on in their minds or lives. Sometimes… often, in fact, it has little or nothing to do with us.
We cannot make other people happy or change, we can only create scenarios and situations that allow these things to happen on their own. Happiness is found from within, and while external forces can manipulate that and weigh heavy on us, how we each react to something is who we are and essentially what defines us. We also, at times, seem to have no control over our own lives. Outside forces, challenges and circumstances can overwhelm us. They can knock us off a good path and send us in a tail spin. So the question becomes, how do we deal with this? We have no control over others… no control over external forces… no control over a great many things. So how do we stay happy and sane and focused and continue moving towards a fulfilled life?
Again, what we have control over is ourselves and our relationship with G-d. And how strong that is will determine a lot. This is getting long, so this may be carried over to next week, though I may want to write about Purim, so it may have to wait for an additional post… but let’s end on this.While Judaism had Priests, those who were considered holier and often a conduit between lay people and G-d, we are also taught that we all have this holiness inside of us. We are all, on some level, supposed to be a Priest. This notion comes to me from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe (Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson). I saw it in an old Jewish Journal, but it can be found in the Kehot Chumash from Chabad House Publications. He says that the Priests “exist only to to serve the people and provide them with the inspiration they need in order to accomplish the task.”
He continues with this powerful idea: “… we are to consecrate a portion of our personality to the sole purpose of serving G-d. By creating (“installing”) the priest within, we can then relate to the physical, human priest and both see him as the idealized version of ourselves and derive through him Divine consciousness and inspiration.”
Installing the priest within…
Get inspiration from wherever you may find it, but know that all you need is already inside of you. Return to who you already are… a complete and spiritual and fulfilled human being. The ONE relationship that matters most is the ONE between all of us individually, and Hashem. Push out the noise and distractions and find a way to connect, grow and develop this. It is all right there. It is between all of us.. and HIM!