LIVING WITH FAITH
NO BAD DESCENDS FROM ABOVE
In the letter below written by the Alter Rebbe and published in Tanya – Iggeret HaKodesh 11, the Alter Rebbe addresses one of the most important themes of life we encounter each and every day – why do bad things happen to us?!
The Alter Rebbe explains that in fact – as the Midrash says – there is no such thing as bad. In fact, since everything stems directly from G-d Almighty Himself – who is the essence of good, everything that reaches us in this world is really actual good. The big question on everybody’s mind of course is how it can be that these things are good?
There are varying degrees of what we term bad. For some, it is being unable to find a marriage partner. For others it may be not being blessed with children. For others it may be a lack of financial resources to live a life of happiness (to what they would consider happy.) To others there may be physical challenges – and yet to others there may be spiritual tests. The heart knows the pain of the soul and each person knows well what affects him the most, what troubles him and makes him believe that his life is simply not yet filled with happiness.
What then is the solution to actually seeing the good that is supposed to be all around us? The Alter Rebbe beautifully explains how the essential element needed to attain the right vision is to see life through the “spectacles of faith”. To the degree that we are able to integrate in reality what it means to have faith in G-d – to this degree we will be able to actually see goodness.
It’s really a simple recipe – according to the Alter Rebbe:
Ingredients to add for a life of revealed goodness:
Stir well and open your eyes to seeing that everything happening is actual good. Cook “faith” your entire life and life will always be ready for being dished up with happiness and goodness.
Those who see life continually in a dismal light – says the Alter Rebbe – show themselves to be from the Eirev Rav. These people, who left Egypt together with the Jews, were responsible for creating the Golden Calf. For them, life was all about “them.” Everything had to be just as they wished it to be. Such a belief removes one from G-d. Since G-d fills all creation and is everything, it must be that the current situation is what G-d wants. When the “Eirev Rav” step in however to demand life in accordance with their gods, they deny that G-d is actually in control. They believe they are in control. They may say things such as it is my money and my doing that makes my life what it is. When life is not going well for them, they cry bitterly unable to understand the reason for their failure.
Those who are not part of the Eirev Rav well know that life is about G-d and not themselves. The service required of us is to work on seeing that we are not in control of our lives (at all!) and that in fact, G-d is running the show completely. Our duty is to do what is required of us in serving G-d. This, through the Mitzvot – eating Kosher, observing the Sabbath day, observing the laws of Family Purity, learning Torah, wearing Tefillin and Tzizit (for men) etc. Our duty is to do what we must. Thereafter G-d does what He must (for reasons known to Him.) Once the cycle is moving, we need to add our ingredient – faith – to the main recipe. At this point in time, we need to look around, realise that G-d is in charge and in complete control and let life run its course. For some reason, this is what G-d wants.
In fact, the moment we realise this, our entire life becomes a life filled with happiness and goodness. Once we realise that we are where we are supposed to be – even if we do not yet understand it – we are much more readily able to deal with life – knowing clearly that Someone else is actually in charge.
No bad descends from above. It is all good. Therefore, it is now up to us to change the prescription on our lenses, and to look at life with a clear view. Then… even the apparent bad will be seen as actual good. Not only that – it will actually be good!
If you’re looking to work on faith, I highly recommend “Duties of the Heart”. Inside this work is an entire lengthy chapter dealing with faith – what it is and how to attain it. It is an accepted work to learn in order to grow in this area of life.
If you would like to purchase it, you can do so immediately at Rav Eliyahu’s Torah store – right over HERE.
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“To enlighten you with understanding” (Daniel 9:22). For this is not the path for the light of G-d to dwell in one – to be desiring a life of the flesh, of children and sustenance. Because concerning this, our Sages of blessed memory have said, (Ethics of our Fathers 2:4) “Nullify your will [before His will so that He will nullify the will of others before your will.]” This means that one’s will should be nullified in totality and he should have no will at all in matters of this world, all of them included in children, life and sustenance – as our Sages of blessed memory have said – (Ethics of our Fathers 4:22) “Against your will you live.”
And the explanation of this matter is [that this can only be explained as] truthful faith in the Creator of the world. This means that the creation – ‘something from nothing’ – which is called “The beginning of Wisdom.” And this is His wisdom which is inconceivable to any creature, this creation [bringing existence into being ex nihilo] is at every time and moment that creations exist – ‘something from nothing’ from the wisdom of G-d may He be blessed, who gives life to everything.
And when a person contemplates to the depth of his understanding and he forms in his mind the bringing of existence ex nihilo at every single moment – how can it arise in his mind that he is suffering, or has any afflictions concerning children, life or sustenance or other afflictions in the world? Behold the “nothingness” which is the wisdom of G-d may He be blessed, this is the source of life, goodness and pleasure, and it is the bliss which transcends the world to come. It is only that it is not apprehensible, therefore it appears to him that he is suffering or afflicted.
But in truth no bad descends from above (Bereishit Rabba 51:3) and everything is good, though it is not apprehended because of its immense and abundant goodness.
And this is the main thing of faith – that it was for this that man was created – to believe that there is no place void of Him (Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun 57) and “In the light of the Kings countenance there is life.” And therefore strength and delight are in His place since He is only good all day long. And therefore the beginning of everything is that a person should be happy and rejoice at every moment and should truly live by his faith in G-d who gives life and does good for him at each moment.
And a person who is sad [depressed] and he mourns, shows in himself that he is undergoing some hardship and suffering, and that he is lacking some good. And this is like someone who denies G-d, G-d forbid. And therefore the Sages of Truth [the Kabbalists] distanced themselves very much from the trait of sadness.
But one who believes – he is not afraid of any afflictions in the world, and of any matters of the world, “yes” and “no” [good and bad] are equal by him with a truthful equality. And to one whom these are not equal shows to himself that he is of the Eirev Rav [the multitude who left Egypt together with the Jews and who were responsible for creating the Golden Calf.] That they do everything for themselves, and he loves himself to be able to take himself out from under the hand of G-d and to live a life of the gentiles because of his love of himself.
And therefore he desires a fleshy life of children and sustenance, because this is good for him – and it would be better for him not to have been born. Because the main reason for the creation of a man in this world is for the sake of testing him with these tests, to know what is in his heart – if he will turn his heart towards other gods which are the desires of the body – which come about through the Sitra Achra [the other side – the evil forces.] And desire these. Or whether his desire and his will is to live a truthful life which stems from the living G-d.
And he should believe that in truth he lives it [the true life], and all his needs and all his matters stem in truth in all their particulars – not from the Sitra Achra, for “By G-d are the steps of man made firm” (Psalms 37:23), and “While there is no word [on my tongue You, G-d, know it all!] “
And if so, then everything is good to the highest extent. It is only that it is not apprehended. And when one believes this truly, everything becomes good – and also in a revealed manner. That through this faith that one believes that what manifestly seem evil – all of its life force is from the Supernal Good which is the wisdom of G-d may he be blessed which is not apprehensible, and it is the delight which transcends the world to come.
Behold, through this faith, the imagined evil is truly absorbed and sublimated into the Supernal hidden Goodness. [Through this the good actually becomes revealed.]