GLOOM

0 Posted by - December 8, 2016 - Breishit, Parsha

GLOOM

Parashat Vayetze

I’ve been trying to keep to the Segula of R Chaim Palachi for the month of Kislev. If you don’t complain from Rosh Chodesh Kislev until the 8th day of Chanukah, you are promised to have a miracle happen to you that year. I believe that the reason why the month of Kislev is the month not to complain is because the essence of the month of Kislev is about being a K’sil, a simpleton. Believing in G-d, accepting that we totally do not understand what is happening in our lives, and why. We are just too simple to understand G-d’s unfathomably wise plans. If we complain about our situation, it is because we don’t want to accept consciously or subconsciously G-d’s ultimate plan over our plan. Recently, a friend pointed out to me  that we spend more time in life planning how we want to live than we do enjoying and appreciating the life that G-d has given us. Because we are busy “outsmarting” G-d.

Imagine that you get a tap on your shoulder. You turn around, and no one is there. And then, you hear a booming, Heavenly voice, that says, “ It’s Me, G-d. Make no mistakes about your life. You will never be rich. You will never be famous. Your life will be full of the regular struggles that the regular people go through.” How would you feel? Would you feel calm, knowing that it is not worth trying so hard to change your fate and make more money than you will ever need, or trying to impress other people, to receive their validation?

You see, so many times in life, we want to outsmart G-d, and not accept the life that G-d has given us. We think that the difficulties [sometimes quite ugly] that we have to deal with – the “dirt” – are a result of our life’s being “messed up”. We don’t see the good in the gloom.  But the truth is that part of growth is to accept the dirt, because that dirt, that fertilizer, is what we need to grow to become the better person we are meant to be. And the only way we can really grow from the gloom is by accepting that G-d gave us this gloom so that we will be able to grow in some way.

R Yitzchak Fanger told the following parable: There was once a mouse that was being chased by a cat. The mouse shrieked, as he ran for his life. Elephant’s big ears picked up the squeal of the mouse, and, with his big heart, he came to the rescue. With his long trunk, He snorted up a big blob of mud and shot the mud over Mouse, burying him, hiding him from sight. Cat ran right over Mouse, not knowing where Mouse disappeared.

Lesson no. 1. When you are covered in mud, many times it’s for your best.

Then, Mouse started to move around; he was able to get one foot out, and his tail poked a hole out of the mud that covered his body. He started wiggling, and then… Cat spotted him. Cat came over, pulled Mouse out of the mud and ate him alive.

Lesson 2. Not always when someone pulls you out of the mud is it for your best.

A lot of times in life, we find ourselves covered in darkness. We have a hard time figuring out why things are not going as expected, everything looking confusing. We are similar to that mouse that – all of a sudden – got a blob of mud thrown at him, not knowing where it came from and why. We try to escape the gloom, but things don’t get better.

Yaakov’s life was a life of hardships. A life of darkness. G-d brought the darkness on Yaakov on that first night after his having learned for fourteen years without sleep. Suddenly. Because the tests a person has in life, the darkness one has to go through, are always a sudden change. We are never really ready for the gloomy days. So, what can we do, instead of complaining? At that moment when darkness came upon Yaakov, he set up the Arvit prayer. Because in the darkness, things that look bad can actually be your greatest benefit. Arvit, the prayer of Erev, has hidden in the root, the word Arev, or sweet. Because many of the sweet things in life come from the darkest places.

להגיד בבוקר חסדך ואמונתך בלילות, To say over your kindness in the morning, and your faith at night. Our Rabbis refer to Night time as a time of faith, a time when a staff and a snake can be confused. Why do the Rabbis use staff and snake as an example? Because the staff is something that can help you, something you can lean on, and snake is something that can kill you. The things that look to us like they are great for us, might be the worst things for us, and the things that look like they are the worst things for us, can be our salvation. Night time, when times are bleak, is the opportunity to thank G-d, to display your trust that the dirt that you need to deal with, is (even more than) okay.

Moshe asked G-d the age-old question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” הראני נא את דרכך. And G-d answered him, וראית אחורי ופני לא יראו , “You can see Me from My back”. G-d told Moshe that if he ever wanted to see Him and understand Him, that he should look back, מאחור – by looking into the past, one can now understand things that, a few years ago, made no sense. Yaakov’s life, as he was going through it, looked so dark. But if we reexamine it from the end to the beginning, he needed to run away from Esav, he needed to be tricked with Leah, he needed to deal with Lavan, and Yosef needed to be kidnapped.

It is interesting how the month of Kislev, the month of being simple and accepting G-d, always comes out during the time of Yaakov’s life. Yaakov was the epitome of simplicity. איש תם יושב אהלים A man that was simple, who sat in the tents of Torah and Tefillah. If one wants to stay in learning, the only way is by mastering simplicity. It does not say that Yaakov was a תם, a simpleton. It says that Yaakov was an איש תם, a man that controlled his simplicity. He bowed down to Esav, instead of trying to fight him. He accepted his father-in-law as a trickster, and just dealt with the situation, mastering his simplicity.

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