Wednesday, 19 August 2009
The Most Powerful Source of Blessing
THE MOST POWERFUL SOURCE OF BLESSING
Being involved in outreach and a variety of Torah projects, we are asked for assistance in many areas. To such a degree, one would think that those writing to us think of us as nothing less than magicians and Rebbes – each of which will be discussed briefly later in this article.
Imagine the scene for a moment – an easy one, which we can all relate to. The news is in: The market has crashed, and there's no money left. Or perhaps a Shidduch fell through. Or perhaps there is some hopelessness in the family in general. What do we do?! Life is filled with tests on a daily basis. Not just daily – but hourly and every single minute as well. We are in this world to be involved in some sort of major rectification and test for our entire lives. Throughout our lives each of us will experience the ups and downs of so many factors, that ultimately we get to "enjoy" the full gamut of what life truly has to offer. Some seem to receive more. Others seem to have it harder. But what do we do when we've simply had it with everything and no hope seems to be on the horizon?
At this point in time, many people begin to panic about what to do. Some turn to magicians, "psychics" and fortune tellers in the hope that they will restore our trust in a bright future! Others believe that the "Kabbalists" have all the answers. Some feel that anybody who is more religious than they, have some sort of mystical unique connection to the Creator of the world and can make things happen better and faster – if only they will recite their name in prayer.
Granted, the Jewish people are blessed with Tzaddikim – righteous individuals whose entire lives are dedicated to G-d – every single moment of the day and night. Indeed, in almost every situation, their word literally has an effect in the world and can turn everything upside down in a second! But these are unique people, who most of us never really get in touch with. So instead we feel that there must be someone else who can answer our difficulties for us.
Sadly, we give up on the "Ikkar" – the Main (sic) thing, for the "Tafel" – the second best. Imagine being frustrated with a purchase you're about to make or have just made at a large chain-store. You see someone packing the shelves and immediately approach him with your problems. "There's no price on here," – you tell him. Or perhaps, "This product is damaged," you say. Or maybe, "I bought this product and it exploded in the home when I opened it," you tell him. He looks at you… You begin shouting, raving and ranting that things should be different and you expect better service, better products and a better price. It doesn't take a genius to realise such a customer will get nowhere.
If the customer is smarter, he might think to take his problem to the main teller and explain the problem to them. Of course, in all likelihood, he'll be met with a blank stare! He could look around and see some sort of central manager area and take his problem there. Realistically he'd probably get involved in a really good discussion with them, though it may not meet with a positive solution. He could take his problem to the financial manager of the store, the marketing manager, the product manager, the operations manager, the human resource manager – or just about any other manager, in the hope of sorting out his problem… but it may be that even this will not help.
One who wants to make sure that his problem really gets addressed should take his issue right to the top. He needs to speak with the very owner of the store. After all, it's HIS store. He knows what type of products should be in it. He knows the type of people working there. And if he's committed to making sure things run smoothly and wants to keep in business, he knows what the prices of everything are. Should anything be reported incorrect, he'll be the guy to get things changed – and fast!
When it comes to our own difficulties, we must attune ourselves regularly to behave in the same way. Of course, the "managers" (the students of Torah) and administrators (Rabbis, Rebbis, Tzaddikim etc.) of the "store" can often work wonders. But then, keep in mind, they're really doing nothing more in life than the exact same thing that every other Jew is obligated to do.
We have a Torah filled with 613 Mitzvot to perform. Whether we were born into a religious family or not. Whether we were born and brought up our entire lives with every value opposite to the Torah – or not. Each of us is equally responsible for every commandment in the Torah. From how we eat (kosher), to how we conduct our business. From how we rest one day of the week (Shabbat) to respecting the laws of Family Purity (Niddah). From not charging another Jew interest, to honouring and respecting them. From honouring our parents, to giving a loan or charity to a Jew in need (without the barest resemblance of causing embarrassment!) We are given the opportunity to truly do what the King wants from us – every single second of the day.
Our duty is to focus on what we are required to do – by G-d Himself. Though we can always try to take short cuts by asking those who may be working harder on themselves to do the hard work for us, we must realise that at the end of the day, what's most important for each of us is to examine realistically where we stand in terms of doing the right thing – under the kingship of G-d Almighty.
What good would it do to ask the shelf-packer to speak to the manager of the store on our behalf regarding receiving a discount on a product, when just two days before we were caught stealing from the managers own store – by the manager himself?!
Yet we try to achieve our same goal in this world by miraculously hiding G-d away from us, and then asking others to intercede with Him on our behalf. Those connecting with "psychics", witchcraft and hoping for hocus-pocus blessing to descend directly from the King Himself, while ignoring His own requests to improve their behaviour and deeds, is not much different than the thief who asks the shelf-packer to convince the manager to give us discounts on our goods (shortly after having been caught!)
Where does blessing come from? It comes from G-d Himself. What does He require from us? To fear Him and to do His commandments. If we're still not up to par (or just having a hard time getting there!) and there's something blocking the channel for blessing, it is certainly high time to ask those greater than ourselves to help us, to daven at the graves of the Tzaddikim (if they have left this world) or to ask in person if we can find these giants of the Jewish people.
Every Jew – no matter who he is – is considered in G-d's eyes to be as an only child born to elderly parents in their old age – says the Baal Shem Tov. If so, we are certainly all equal – and equally as great! If so, it is our duty to call upon Him ourselves to begin with, imploring with every possible excuse we can come up – why we are deserving of nothing less than the best! Are we praying three times a day?! Are we spending some time alone with G-d speaking out our difficulties – every single day?! We are to implore for the very best for ourselves – and for our friends in need. When these steps are in place, we should feel the need to move a step closer – to do even more, by making certain that we connect with those who are indeed far greater than us, asking them to daven for us and to intercede Above so that blessing should flow down even faster.
But, it takes that first step to realising that our main duty to elicit blessing from above is already clearly laid out for us. It begins with Modeh Ani in the morning. An acknowledgement that G-d is here with each of us every single second of the day. And in every move that we make, every word we speak, and every thought we think – we are to connect ourselves with nothing less than becoming servants to G-d, so that our every being becomes a vessel for G-d's light to shine in, ultimately delivering the blessing to the right address.
Are you ready for the challenge? Or are you looking for the quick fix? Are you in need of blessing in your life?! We all are! That real blessing can come and certainly will (at some point in time!) when we connect ourselves to Torah as we should – when we connect ourselves to our fellow Jews as we should. When there is unity between ourselves and unity with G-d, and all the parts of the "machine" are oiled and lubricated as they should be… then the blessing we need, will certainly flow.
The most powerful blessing available – the one each of us is looking for, is found in nothing less than our holy Torah. Through observing her Mitzvot and through learning her ways, every person is able to clearly grasp the truth of blessing. You're welcome to try the hocus-pocus – because you have free choice – though it's clearly forbidden by the Torah. Real, truthful and everlasting blessing comes through no other source than the Torah herself.