Sufferance. Does it have a purpose?
Others cause us bad. What can you do?
You have three options. Suffer in Silence. Suffer and use the sufferance to take revenge. Use sufferance for the good.
Talking it Out
You suffer? Talk it out. In the olden days a person who had a heavy heart would talk it out with friends and family.
Psychologists vs. Family
Today, it’s more common than before to go to a psychiatrist. I am from the old school. I think a person should first talk with friends and family to get try to solve the problem or get the problem off their chest – then if they really need more help that cannot be provided by friends or family then a seeing a psychologist might be in order.
Choosing a Psychologist that has a Torah Outlook
Even in selecting a psychiatrist – a person must be concerned about his or her mentality, capabilities, reputation and hashkafa / Jewish philosophy.
A Torah Hashkafa is important because if a psychologist lacks one they might prompt the person do things against the Torah. Like if the psychologist is treating kleptomania (someone who steals) – he might say “steal from places that you won’t get caught.” Or reinforce his negative impulses.
I met psychiatrist recently that mentioned he was able to help people – like those who wet their beds, young couples with marital concerns, victims of trauma – in a non-traditional manner. Instead of prolonging the therapy by delving into the person’s history and childhood – he goes to the root of the problem and helps them in one or two sessions rather than sessions lasting months or years.
He explained to me his method. Indeed it is very direct. But it is effective. You choose your method of treatment and whether you actually want to be treated.
The first step to solve a problem is to recognize there is a problem.
Unloading Your burden to the Rabbi
I feel that competent, reputable Orthodox Rabbis with a proper Torah Hashkafa are fit to solve relationship problems. Consulting them has four advantages over a psychologist. One is the Rabbi sees the picture according to a Torah perspective. He will give advice that is Correct halachically / according to Jewish Law and Hashkafically / according to Torah philosophy. Secondly He might be able to give spiritual reasons for the suffering. Three He may also take upon himself to pray for the person. Four – if he deems himself unfit – he will refer you to a competent professional – that he approves of.
Good G-d – Believe it is and will be good and it will be good
What we think is coincidence is actually carefully planned by G-d. We call it Hashgacha Pratit – Individual Supervision. Meaning that G-d watches over us particularly. Here are two recent examples:
I am in the middle of writing this article. Before 5 pm – I take a break to mail a package. Someone other than me put a CD in the player. The CD in the car plays. The rabbi – Rabbi Yigal Cohen – is talking exactly what I am writing about. He tells a story: He was giving a Shiur – a lecture to Israelis on coping with difficulties. After the lecture – a psychologist – who was nodding her head in agreement throughout the lecture – came up to him and said “I agreed with what you said during the lecture. I wanted to add a point. That many psychological problems come from a lack of understanding or faith in G-d.”
If we believe that all comes from G-d and all that G-d does is for our good – we can more easily cope with difficulties. Because there is a reason for all our difficulties. Because it is difficult – it doesn’t mean that it is bad. It is difficult to exercise, to climb a mountain – but afterwards your body is in better shape. When we encounter difficulties by believing G-d is doing things for our good and learning from the messages being sent – our attitude in life and personality gets in shape.
There are difficult and easy situations in life. But all are good – if sent by G-d. We just have to be able to see the good in the difficulties.
Example two that happened just recently: I usually leave the synagogue at a certain time. I set up with a traveling mechanic to fix my brakes that day while I was in the synagogue. He came later than usual delaying my departure. In the interim a woman came to the synagogue – in a time when I would not usually be there – who told us that her maternal grandmother was Jewish. Apparently she did not know that she was Jewish because her mother was Jewish. We invited her to the synagogue and she said she would try to come.
Some would call this coincidence – the Torah calls it Hashgacha pratit / individual supervision.
What Does G-d Want from Me
In my lifetime I have suffered, like everyone. When I was about 13 I changed myself. My sufferings prompted me to improve. When faced with difficulties – I asked – why me? Why was I suffering when all my friends were having a great time. After much introspection, questioning and pain – I figured there must be a reason. I asked myself “What does G-d want from me?”
I figured that it was G-d that was sending the difficulties to prompt me to improve my ways. Yes at 13 I did have much to improve – my lifestyle, my life and Jewish philosophy / hashkafa, my attitude and my deeds. I started studying Torah to see what I could improve.
I started reading Jewish classics – like Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the fathers and learned I had much more to improve than I had thought. I learned Jewish laws. I started attending an orthodox synagogue regularly. I started keeping kosher. I was careful about wearing my tefillin daily and attending prayer services at the local orthodox synagogue. This was a gradual process that took years.
I made a point to grow every day. Learn Torah every day. Now – looking back – I can see the reasons for the difficulties and the suffering and feel that following the path to self-improvement through Torah – was instrumental in me leading a happier life today. I have a more positive attitude and life than I would have had I followed the crowd.
The suffering that prompted me to get better through Torah Judaism – was a springboard to making my life better.
Does a person grow only through adversity?
The first question a person should ask when suffering is – what message is G-d sending me to help me improve? At times it is a message for a very particular isssue or it could be a message that a person should improve in general. A quick and simple way for a Jew to determine what they should improve is to benchmark one’s actions and attitudes with what it says in Pirkei Avot and in Shulchan Aruch. For a Gentile / Non-Jew one should benchmark their actions and attitudes with what the Noahide laws from the Torah says.
Letting Go of the Grudge – Having Faith in G-d & the Woman who Forgave.
I heard of a story of a woman about 35 – who was not married. She said she wasn’t finding any prospective marriage mates. She went to her local Orthodox Rabbi and told him of her concern.
He asked – “Did you date someone and it didn’t work out?” She said “Yes. About a year ago I was going out with a great boy. We both liked each other. We were about to get married – and then his mother got involved and he broke off the wedding.”
The Rabbi asked “Did you forgive him?” She said “Yes. But I cannot forgive the mother. Why did she have to get involved and break off a good relationship.”
The Rabbi asked “Who do you think organizes relationships?”
She replied “Hash-m” / G-d.
“If that is the case why do you hold a grudge against his mother? If you believed that G-d organizes relationships – so he was the One also who helped the relationship to break off. You think it was the mother that broke it off. Hash-m was the One who broke it off. She was just an agent of Hash-m. Since you keep holding on to this grudge it means that you are under the impression that it was the mother that caused the break up. If you believe and accept that it was G-d that really the cause and she was just an agent forgive the mother with a full heart. This will show you put your belief that G-d is in control and does all for the best. And remember to call me when before you get married to invite me to your wedding.”
She then said aloud in front of the Rabbi “I Forgive her completely. I forgive her completely. I forgive her completely.”
Three months later he received the call that she was getting married.
She put her trust in Hash-m. Then Hash-m’s providence was invoked by her trusting in Him. She told the Rabbi then a fact that was pertinent to the story “A year ago my groom to be received a piece of paper with my phone number. He thought I was older than him – so he decided to meet other women for marriage. They didn’t work out. He was free to date again – when he happened to find the piece of paper with my phone number and decided to call me. He “happened” to find the paper after I forgave the mother of my former date.”
= = =
Suffering For my people
I was prompted to write this article because of my suffering for a young woman – Ori Ansbacher, HYD (may G-d avenge her blood) – that was recently killed savagely by an Arab terrorist. This young woman loved people and peace. This terrorist killed her for the sole reason because she was Jewish.
How can we be consoled?
Anyone killed because they are Jewish – dies sanctifying the name of heaven. They get a high place in heaven. Apparently a Jew can say kaddish for her.
I still suffer. Who is guilty?
Many. Terrorists. People who support terrorists or terrorist organizations financially or by encouragement. People who don’t do enough to assure that these terrorists are punished. The schools and organizations that taught the Terrorists to hate Jews.
And unfortunately we ourselves.
If the Jews were united, If we would listen to the words of the Torah to be kind with one another and banish hatred among Jews – we would be able to deter these terrible acts.
What can we do
When such a crime occurs – apart from petitioning the authorities for new strong reforms take place against these acts of savagery – G-d wants us to correct ourselves on a personal level.
Let us be kinder to our fellow. Let us make peace among Jews. Let us learn more Torah. Let us take upon ourselves new mitzvot. Let us bring our fellow Jews closer to Torah and Mitzvot and at least we will have some kind of consolation.
Let’s propel ourselves in these deeds of goodness and mitzvot so we won’t need any difficult motivators anymore.