WHATÂ ISÂ THE PROBLEM
me to ask you a question. Is “life” difficult? I pondered this a lot lately, and I realized that the answer to that question is – Â Yes, and No. Life is a series of problems. That is a great truth that we need to accept, in order for us to look past the problem for the solution. It is up to us: how we deal with those problems will define if life is difficult, or if it is not. Life is only difficult if we believe that life is not supposed to have problems. One can only deal with a problem in a realistic manner, after accepting Reality. Reality is recognizing that everything in our lives is orchestrated by G-d.Â That is the ultimate reality.Â Once a person is aware of the fact that G-d is managing every detail of what we experience for our good, the “problem” becomes a challenge – one that has been tailor made for our good. But as long as one has a misconception of what life should be, this contradiction of reality can make life seem difficult.
Recently, a game was invented, called Mah Habayah? What’s the problem? .The agenda of this game is to see who is the best at solving everyday problems that life gives us, with only five “options” cards. I decided to play this game with my family, instead of Monopoly, which we had played until now. Monopoly teaches the kids that if you have more money than others in your life, you win. As long as you can rub shoulders with the elite (Hotel Owners) in your society, you are still “in the game”, you are still a player. If not, you are just unsuccessful. What a depressing, stressful way to look at life. But Mah HaBayah rewards with compliment cards (the first to get 15 cards wins). You receive one each time you come up with a solution for your everyday life problem, with the resources (your option cards) that Luck (G-d) gives you. The game reprograms the brain for the big game called Life. I hope to instill creativity and resourcefulness in my children. Resourcefulness is the level of character where the answers to life’s problem are not dependant on what I have (my resources), but who I am. And it is not just resourcefulness that I would like to instill in them. It is Jewish Resourcefulness.
Life problems are any reality that you want in life and it is not so, and it bothers you. Life problems overshadow a person’s creativity; many people freeze, fret, or just get frustrated when faced by such a challenge. The first thing to do in order to get out of the problem is to write it out on paper, without any exclamation marks or emotions. Give the problem boundaries. Then, ask, What are my options? What can I do in order to get the best, most realistic result or solution? The problem is only that we are looking at what cannot be done, where there is no option. And the reason why we look at the options that we do not have, is because we believe the problem should not be there.Â Accepting is the first step to resourcefulness.
There is a famous saying from R. Nachman from Breslev. Stop telling G-d how big your problems are. Start telling your problems how great G-d is. Eliyahu Shiri, from Merkaz Koah Hatodeah, has a great coaching tool. Instead of the coach asking the client, who is faced with a life problem, the question, “What are your options?”, Shiri asks, “What are G-d’s options?” Phrasing the question this way is infinitely more effective. It enables the client to tap into what I call Jewish Resourcefulness. Many times, when faced with life problems, we think “in the box”, and in the box there are no options. But when we think what G-d’s options are, we can think out of the box, out of the confines of regular thinking, out of our limitations, and out of ourselves. And most importantly, this question is the ultimate, optimistic question. When you have G-d’s options, no problem is permanent.
When the Jewish people were stranded at the Sea, they had two impossible options. Either everyone drowns, or everyone dies at war. Moshe and B’nei Yisrael cried out to G-d, and G-d said, ×ž×” ×ª×¦×¢×§ ××œ×™, Why do you cry out to Me? ×“×‘×¨ ××œ ×‘× ×™ ×™×©×¨××œ ×•×™×¡×¢×• Â Speak to the Jews and they shall travel! Rashi comments that Moshe stood and prayed, and G-d said to him, that now is not a time to make lengthy prayers, when the Jews are in distress. And another explanation. ×ž×” ×ª×¦×¢×§ ××œ×™, ×¢×œ×™ ×”×“×‘×¨ ×ª×œ×•×™ ×•×œ× ×¢×œ×™×š, Why do you call out to Me? This issue is Mine, not yours.
The Or Hachayyim asks, aren’t we supposed to pray when we find ourselves in distress? What was the meaning of this question, ×ž×” ×ª×¦×¢×§ ××œ×™, Why do you cry out to me in prayer? The Or Hachayyim explains that the Jewish Nation was not worthy of salvation. They served idols just like the Egyptians, and they had no merit to live through this battle, any more than their opponents. Prayer, here, would not help. But blind faith would. Faith is more powerful than prayer. Nahshon Ben Aminadav’s walking into the waters until he nearly drowned provided the merit for the splitting of the Red Sea. When we live with faith, even if we are unworthy, G-d grants us salvation. It was not prayer that G-d wanted; it was faith.
We can answer the question of the Or Hachayyim differently, though.Â The passuk does not say, ×œ×ž×” ×ª×¦×¢×§ ××œ×™ Why do you cry out to Me?Â The passuk says, ×ž×” ×ª×¦×¢×§ ××œ×™ , What do you cry out to me for? G-d was telling them, I do not need you to tell Me that there is nothing “what” we can do, that there are no options. I do not need your options, either drown or fight to death. There is a reason to cry for Me to save you, but there is no reason to cry out claiming you have no options, for My options are infinite. Â I will save you, just do not tell Me that there are no options. For Me, I do not need options because I do not have problems, for I am Reality. Just tell 600,000 men and their families to walk through the raging sea, and everything will be just fine.