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A miracle or a test?

Friday, 27 December, 2019 - 6:34 am

A few weeks ago I asked Hashem for something very pertinent to my life. Based on what I was taught long ago, I was willing to give something as well. In other words, I knew that in order to request a blessing from Hashem in some important issue, I must give something important and pertinent well. I am not talking about money; I am talking about a good and influential resolution that effects my daily functioning. Sometimes it is extremely difficult to break a habit.

And so, I stood in the Rebbe’s ohel, asked and promised to give something not so easy in return.

But then I noticed something interesting, even fascinating. From the moment I made the resolution, I began to run into barriers and obstacles, known in Chassidic circles as “meni’ot ve’ikkuvim” – things preventing or delaying the keeping of this resolution. I told my wife about my resolution, so that I would have her support, and together we saw, time after time, how I would run into difficulties and barriers. The feeling was as if I was facing a strong force that had a special interest in preventing me from fulfilling my promise.

My request was not for something medical or financial, and I didn’t promise anything of the sort either. I asked for something spiritual, and my resolution also related to spiritual matters, or something that influences my spiritual growth. The “difficulties and barriers”, what we call nisyonot – trials – were mainly in the realm of bein adam lamakom – matters between me and Hashem.

I almost gave up. But, fortunately, for several weeks I have been studying the Chassidic essay “To those that fear You, you gave a banner (nes)to be raised high”, which the Rebbe taught in 5736 (1976) a few months before I was born.

The entire essay deals with the trials and tests that come upon man during his life. It delves, step by step, into the depths of the human being’s nature on one hand, and into the types of tests on the other. The Rebbe speaks about tests that are seemingly real, and about those whose source is in our thoughts and imagination. He also suggests approaches regarding how to cope with what one encounters. Not everything in the essay is easy; not everything is immediately understood and internalized. Most of the time, it is worthwhile to study the words again and again, but in the end, if one is coming from a truthful approach, the ideas penetrate and influence one, and become a source of internal strength when facing the difficulties and barriers.

The essay teaches not only ways to cope; primarily, it lets us understand that the tests that we are given are actually gifts, as David Hamelech said, “you gave your fearers a nes” – meaning a nisayon – a test. Later on in the essay he connects to it the next passuk in Tehillim, “So that Your loved ones be released”. In other words, if you will understand correctly the gift that is embedded in the test, you will reach the level of being “released” – you will extricate yourself from your current situation and be able to grow more, taller, and move on to the next stage.

This week, Baruch Hashem, I got through the challenging test, and when I danced in front of the Chanukah candles and sang “about your miracles (nissim), and wonders and salvations” I suddenly understood these words differently. “About your nissim” – meaning the nisyonot – the tests You gave us; it is they that advance us and elevate us one more step in our inner service, and with Hashem’s help we will merit salvations, “so that Your loved ones be released.”

 

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Chanukah,

 

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski


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