Coping with Problems, the Jewish Method
(no, its not about eating!)
By Nachum Mohl
Sometimes life can be extremely trying, to the point that even the smallest disruption can be very irritating. When we are in a rush and pressed for time, it seems that just then we cannot find an urgent document that we must have. Just when we need our computer the most, it crashes. Even our spouses and children can inadvertently become a source for our anger.
How can we deal with those annoyances in a manner that permits us to not just "deal with it," but also to grow?
There are many methods that offer solutions to these problems. What I am about to introduce to you is not new; it has been around since the beginning of time. It is something that in reality, inside of each of us, we know is correct. It is really very simple, yet because of its very simplicity it has been ignored by most people.
First we must preface this with a brief overview of how most people understand their individual personal being and their relationship with G-d and the world around them.
Most people will tell you, yes, there is me, there is the world around me, and there is G-d. This certainly seems correct, but there is a flaw in this thinking that when we begin to think a bit deeper will open up an entire new view of the world that will make your view of the world change in such an extreme manner that it will seem that it was black and white and now it is in color.
The problem is really in the question. There really is no such thing as a three-dimensional world of me, the world, and G-d. There exists only ONE and that one is G-d. What this means is that your existence and the world's existence only exists because of G-d's will that you and the world exist. According to mystical thought, there is only G-d and we exist in G-d, not outside of Him. The implications to this are enormous, as will be shortly explained.
Going a step further, G-d's reality exists in the world with the same life force that He exists within you. He has concealed Himself both in you and in the world in order that you should look and find him.
Like a father who hides from his young child behind the drapes and then calls to his young son to find him, G-d beckons to us to discover Him hiding behind the trappings of the world. And just like the father who, together with the young child, get a wonderful delight when the child seeks the father, and how much more so when the child finally "finds" him. So too with G-d, when we "find" G-d in the world or in ourselves, G-d gets a tremendous delight. This delight that G-d receives generates a delight and joy in our being.
But just how are we to reveal G-d in ourselves or in the world?
We must first realize that G-d has concealed Himself in the world. The world is merely His garment (like the father hiding behind the curtains) but realize that G-d desires us to reveal Him. Like our clothing conceals our body, it also reveals it. Like the sleeve of a shirt when it is in use by the arm reveals the elbow, etc; so the workings of the world are a stage to reveal G-d in our lives. It is what He desires and it is His delight and ours when we exert ourselves to reveal him.
* * *
Who has not been to an amusement park? In most amusement parks they have rides in which we pay money to be frightened. We enter into a car and we are taken into a tunnel. Ghost and monsters come out to frighten us, yet no one seems to have a heart attack. Just the opposite, the scarier it is, the more we enjoy it. Why? Because we know that it is not real; the owner of the amusement park made all of the scary ghouls and creatures for our amusement and enjoyment.
You should realize that when difficulties come into your life, they come from G-d. It is not your mate or child or boss or neighbor who is causing you the problem. It is G-d. True, the mate, child, boss or neighbor is G-d's agent, and may be acting in a manner that is discomforting, but never-the-less, the ultimate responsibility reverts back to G-d. With out His sanctioning and permission, the actions of the mate, child, boss or neighbor, would not take place.
Our job is not to relate our discomfort to the mate, child, boss or neighbor as the prime source, but as the secondary source. We must see that the prime source and instigator of our troubles is G-d; it is only the person or computer, or auto, or whatever who acts as the agent, and they are the secondary source of our troubles.
Once you realize that all of your problems really have one address, and that address is G-d, and since nothing bad ever comes from G-d, it becomes incumbent upon you to seek out what are the desires of G-d in such a matter. Why did G-d decide that such a thing should happen to you? What growth are you to get from such a difficult problem or experience? We must become undercover detectives and work to detect G-d's workings in our life and in the world.
Once we reset our viewpoint of the world back to the way it really is, we will not only have defused the most unpleasant of situations, but we will begin to grow from them.
* * *
However you must be aware that knowledge of G-d's running the world and the actual seeing it in everyday life are as far apart as the sun and moon (which look sometimes very close). In order that this may become part of your life, that it be not just an intellectual activity, you must do a daily exercise. You must take time each day and recount the events of the day, the small events as well as the major happenings, and try to relate it to G-d's will. You must say, "Why did G-d do such and such to me? What can I learn from it?"
At first it will be difficult to find the correlation, but as time goes on, you will become better adept at seeing G-d running the world. Sometimes it will take many months, even years, to see a relationship between the problem and G-d's divine will. Sometimes we just cannot make the connection. Eventually, you will be filled with joy from seeing G-d in the world, just like the joy of the child who is seeking his father. And when you actually make the connection and see G-d's workings in action, then you will be wondrously happy.
So do not make the mistake of saying, "hmm, sounds interesting" or even, "wow, that's great!" Start now; begin to contemplate the events that happened to you today. Surely you can see G-d; He wants to be discovered!
from the April 1999 Edition of the Jewish Magazine