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This is how you treat your friends?

Friday, 8 November, 2019 - 8:14 am

If I had only one Jew attending my Schul, only one coming to my classes, and only one coming to my activities, and it was the same one, I would do everything so that he would remain with me. I would take care of all his needs to the best of my ability, help him on every occasion, ask him how he is once a day, and once a week send him a link to a new song of Yishai Ribo that just came out that week.

But look what the Master of the World did. He had one – and only one – Jew in the entire world who had found Him, who believed in Him, who went with Him in face of the whole world, to the point that he was called “Ha’Ivri” – the one on the other side – because of this. But the Master of the World wasn’t so impressed by this and instead of helping him and supporting him He had him go through all the troubles that this world has to offer. From a fight with his parents and family, through moving to an unknown land, famine, exile, his wife being taken twice. He had no children when everyone around him was pushing full baby carriages, and when He finally gave him a son when he was one hundred years old, He told him to offer him up on an altar – the Akeidah.

So I ask, where is the logic in all this? You have one single person who believes in You. Why do You do everything to make him leave You?

This question arises in my mind every year as we approach parashat Lech Lecha. What is interesting is that the explanations I have given myself over the years have changed, or perhaps have upgraded over the years.

When I was young, maybe because that was before I myself met with the trials that Hashem, May His Name be praised forever, prepared for me, I was satisfied with the explanation that these were “trials”. Hashem was testing man, and Avraham, the first Jew, was the poster boy for this. He went through ten trials, each one of them very difficult.

At a later stage in my life, perhaps when I was myself coping with challenges and trials, my answer was: That’s the way it is. That is Hashem’s way. That is the way of the world. Everything positive and holy that a person does has to be accompanied by difficulties and challenges.

In Chassidic language these are called “meni’ot ve’ikuvim” – things preventing us from acting, and slowing us down. And that helped. Every time I had to cope with a challenge I remembered Avraham Avinu and said: Avraham went through more difficult trials than I have, but it was worth it.

This week I asked myself the same question, and internalized something new. I would invest in the only man who believes in me, so that he won’t leave, because I am thinking about myself, about what’s good for me, about my life project. And so, I’ll do everything so that he will continue to believe in me and continue walking with me. But am I thinking about the person who is with me?

But Hashem does think about the benefit of the person, and in this case, about the good of Avraham. And so, He knows that in order to produce from him the best – to realize his powers, to realize his potential in order to make him a much higher quality person in every sense, there is only one way: to put him through challenges and trials. Because every challenge and every trial and need to cope upgrade a person ten times more.

When I read the pasuk about Avraham “And He believed in Hashem”, I read the word emunah as meaning emun – trust. Avraham trusted Hashem fully. He had complete faith in Him, knowing that all the challenges and trials are to make him a much better Avraham. Because that’s the way it is. Every challenge that we face cleans something in us, purifies us. Every trial helps us be a bit less materialistic and more spiritual, more able to give a true assessment as to what is more important and what is even more important than that.

I am curious to know what I’ll write about this in another five years.

Shabbat Shalom,

 

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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