|Life Lessons: Relationship: The Treasure in the Torment|
|Written by The Heileger Chana Chaya|
I have heard great suffering in the years of doing the work that I do. I have experienced the screams of those suffering. I experienced my own suffering as well.
Are we supposed to have a life of suffering?
Why would a good God have us suffer?
I don’t have to repeat our history as Jews, as humans, to make the point. And yet in Parshat Pinchus we are commanded to afflict ourselves on the 10th of Tishrei.
Haven’t we suffered enough? Why a day of self-affliction when so much of life feels like an affliction to many of us?
It was my senior year in high school. The English teacher gave us an assignment to write a short story. I couldn’t think of anything to write. So I wrote what I knew. I wrote about what had recently happened in my life.
I did not reveal that it was me. I called the main character (me) a name similar to that of my best friend, Veeta. I called her Vera.
The day after I handed it in, the teacher called me to her desk. She liked it. She told me I had three stories here, not just one. She asked if I would read it to the class. I realized that I was the only one asked.
I stood in front of the room, holding the story I wrote tightly with both hands, facing my seated classmates.
I began reading aloud. After the first sentence, the room became so quiet. My classmates were listening intently.
I read the whole thing.
After reading the last page, the teacher asked the students to critique the story.
“Good story,” one student opined. And that student added. “But it could never happen.”
“Yeah, it’s not realistic,” chimed in another.
One after the other, they all agreed. It was a good story. It held their attention. But it could never happen. It lacked Realism.
No one in the room, other than the teacher, even suspected that it was “my” story.
In their world such terrible things don’t happen to a teenager. In their world, my story was pure fiction.
I really, at the time, had no idea that it was so unusual. I did not know that teenagers’ lives were so different from mine.
But in all that I had experienced, I found something that they did not ever mention, or seem to have. I had a relationship with the Almighty. I talked to Him daily, hourly, minute by minute. I had to. And in my mind, He answered. He saved me. He wiped my tears and often stopped them from drowning my eyes.
I had what they did not. I felt I was the lucky one.
But I’m not the only one who suffered. The Jewish people have gone thru great suffering and that was predicted. The first predictions of our suffering were given by God to Abraham.
We read that Avraham was told by God that his children will be beaten and enslaved for 400 years and then they will get great wealth (rekhush gadol). (Genesis 15:14)
If you were told that your children will have great riches but first they will have great suffering, would you agree to that for them? Or would you try to protect them from the suffering? Would you fight whoever was telling you this and whatever may be the cause of your child’s suffering? Would you at least try to talk them out of it?
Is that what Avraham did?
Or did Avraham agree to this … Did he agree to having his children endangered, murdered, enslaved, tortured? … Just for some great wealth? Would any parent agree to such a thing?
This is the same Avraham who upon hearing about the destruction of Sodom, fervently argued with God. Why did he not protest for his own children as he did for Sodom? It appears that Avraham did not even recite a prayer on their behalf.
But we are speaking about Avraham Avinu himself. Avraham who was on a higher level than any of us could reach. The pasuk tells us he walked in front of God. He must have known something that we don’t know even upon reading the text.
Was it worth gold and silver and all that jewelry to Avraham to allow such torture?
What exactly was the great wealth that Avraham was promised? Perhaps it would make sense if we understood what the wealth really was. What jewels did Avraham know that his children would receive that would make all that suffering worth it? What jewels would make him agree to such tortuous conditions for his children?
The Words of the Navi (Prophet)
The words of Yeshayahu (Isaiah 1:25), predict that we will suffer (be scrubbed with lye). Then (35:10) God will wipe away our “sighs and sorrow” and “we will be on the sacred highway.”
That sacred highway, in my mind is not that difficulties will disappear. Rather it is about the relationship. The sighs and sorrow disappear when we are in relationship with the Almighty after we have been scrubbed clean, that is after we have suffered.
The Treasure in the Torment
That is the great jewels, the reward. That is what Avraham was promised and that is why he did not argue. He did not argue because in that relationship, the relationship with the Almighty, sorrow and sighs disappear and everything looks different.
He knew that what we are getting is a treasure, the treasure in the torment. He knew that the treasure is in the relationship with the Almighty Himself.
That was, and is the reward, to connect with the Almighty Himself, to have him in our everyday lives, to get to speak with Him, at least three times each day, be it with at least 10 others, or individually. The reward is in the privilege of being able to always cry out to Him? It is in knowing that He is always with us and that he cares what we do. Is there anything more pleasurable? Is there a greater treasure than knowing God cares and watches over us?
That is why as a child, no one would argue that I was “scrubbed with lye” as the pasuk says, and every impurity beaten out of me. How did I succeed? No one who has made my acquaintance or who knows me would ever deny the great success I have had in all of the things on which I have worked.
I know it is because at an early age I found the Almighty.
I knew even then, as the other students said it could never happen, I knew that it did happen but I also knew that I had a great treasure. I had a relationship with the Almighty. Yes, I was the one who had the treasure. I was the lucky one.
And so we afflict ourselves as we are commanded on that Holy Day. And our sorrow and sighs are washed away in knowing that we are in Relationship and the sacred highway is before us.
The Treasure in the Torment is in the Relationship, the relationship with the Almighty, Himself.
Copyright © 2011 Chana Kleinwww.TheSpctrumCoach.com