By way of preface:
The "Jewish Spirituality" mailing list is an outgrowth of several conversations in which people told me that they felt "alone" in their quest to develop their relationship with Gd. I knew they weren't alone, just from my own interactions with other people, and so I extended an invitation to the Jewish community of Rhode Island to join in a weekly mailing list exploring issues within their relationship with HaShem.
Many of the messages posted on the list reflect people's personal struggles and sensitivities. As a result, some of the people who post remarks on this list opt to do so anonymously; they send me the e-mail, and I drop their names. The list is "blind cc'd," as well, so that no one knows who else is on the list. Our goal is that the members of this list should draw strength and inspiration from the words of their peers, and thereby continue to develop as Jews.
Jewish Spirituality - Volume 8
Re: Repairing the Relationship
Subject: Re: Repairing the Relationship
By: Elaine Saklad
An anonymous poster wrote:
>> how do people manage their relationship with G-d in a meaningful way, when
>> they feel that they are not being given what they want and need in life from Him?
>> How do you continue to maintain the enthusiasm or at least the interest in
>> pursuing the relationship? How do people repair the relationship when they are
>> problems between you and G-d?
Iíve been wanting to respond to your original post for some time,
but felt (and still feel) inadequate to the task. You sound like youíre in
a lot of pain, and I donít want to say the wrong thing, and hurt you
more. So please understand that Iím trying to help, and give me the
benefit of the doubt if I say the wrong thingÖ
I think that youíre asking good questions, and that the fact that
youíre looking for spirituality in your life is a great thing. The
question of suffering is an age-old one, and I donít think that anyone has
come up with a good answer. Why do some people seem to get everything (or
most of what) they want and need, while other good people donít? Why do
some people suffer with poor health, deaths of children, poverty,
infertility, loneliness, abuseÖ? I donít know the answer. It calls for a
lot of strength on your part to keep going, to believe, to try and do the
mitzvos, to be good to others, even if they have what you want and donít
have. You might try praying for help with dealing with your situation,
with your faith, and for the strength to face and deal with what He has
given you. Itís not an easy thing to bring yourself to daven when you feel
so hurt that in itself will probably be a big task. But the fact that
youíre looking to ďrepair the relationshipĒ (at least sometimes) is a
really good sign. He can help you come close to Him, if you want to, and
work at it. I believe that weíre given what we can handle; that belief has
helped me before, and it comforts me whenever I feel overwhelmed. Weíre
all stronger than we know, but itís hard work to find the strength inside.
Itís hard to expect to feel good about bad things that happen to you, but
hopefully, over time, youíll heal, especially if you do get the things you
want/need. Looking back on your difficult time, it may make sense to
you. I know that the really difficult things in my life (which are
probably trivial in comparison to what others have gone through), have made
me stronger and made it easier for me to identify with other peoplesí sorrows.
I have a book that may help I havenít read the whole thing, but
it looks like it may address some of your feelings, with ideas from someone
who has been through a lot. Itís called Thirty Seconds to Emotional
Health Torah Therapy for Achieving Spiritual Well-Being by Miriam
Adahan. The beginning of the dedication says: ďThis book is dedicated to
those who know what it is to feel broken-hearted, those who have suffered
abuse and trauma and have had the courage to move on and love
neverthelessÖĒ It has exercises to work on, and talks about concrete
things to try. If youíd like to borrow my copy, please let Rabbi Torczyner
know, and Iíll get it to him.
I wish you a lot of strength, and I hope you find the answers for
which you are searching.
Subject: Pre-Pesach Preparation
By: Mordechai Torczyner
As people get ready for Pesach, cleaning rooms and polishing silver, the real Pesach preparation becomes more difficult. When is there time to read over the Haggadah? When is there time to make sure that we think about how the departure from Egypt relates to us? When is there time to "see ourselves as though we had been the ones to leave Egypt," as we are told to do?
Even if there were time, who has the energy???
Unfortunately, this is a problem which is guaranteed to recur annually, and not only with Pesach. In truth, this is a year-round problem. Time is brief on this end as well, but I read something in Rav Klonimus Kalman Schapiro's "Benei Machshavah Tovah" this week, and I find it an important message vis-a-vis this situation.
He wrote that our spiritual sensitivity to Gd's presence, and to His relationship with us, is like a muscle - it must be exercised, or it atrophies.
In other words, if we say, "When I finish cleaning the refrigerator I'll sit down and work on the spiritual/relationship-with-Gd aspect of Pesach," by the time that job is done we have lost a good deal of our potential for spiritual growth.
What's the answer?? Everything must be cleaned, and all of the preparations must be made! This is undeniable. However, here are two ideas:
1. There are many customs which people observe in a desire to keep "Chumras Pesach," the stringency of Pesach.
For example, people move impossibly heavy furniture in order to get crumbs which (a) are annulled, (b) are inedible, (c) are sold anyway, and (d) they will never see or come in contact with on Pesach, let alone decide to eat.
In another example, people take days to shampoo carpets which have never seen crumbs.
In another example, people take Pesach cleaning as an opportunity to dust areas which don't get dusted at other times.
These are all good things to do - it is important to clean the home for such an important Yom Tov, and it is important to keep our customs regarding extra cleaning for Pesach. Nonetheless, the significance of these points does not override the importance of keeping Pesach a holiday celebrating humanity's relationship with Gd.
2. Postponing spiritual contemplation, as noted above, is like postponing exercise - the muscle atrophies.
Whether one has books to read about Pesach, or one simply wants to read over the biblical account of the Exodus, or one wants to meditate on the slavery and redemption which he sees in his own life - don't put it off. If there is a chance, take it.
I hope this helps.
Have a Chag Kasher veSameach (Kosher and Happy Holiday),
PS - Obviously, there will be no issue sent out next Friday, as it will be Yom Tov, but I hope to have one out on the day following Pesach, so send in those responses!
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