Turn Again

“What is meant by, ‘Surely he scorneth the scorners, but he giveth grace unto the lowly’ [Proverbs 3:34]? If one comes to defile himself, he is given an opening; if one comes to cleanse himself, he is helped.”  – Talmud Shabbos 104a

The Sages teach, based on the above Talmudic passage, and the configuration of the Hebrew letter, “hei,” that H’Shem will “give grace unto the lowly” to do teshuvah (repentance) through the narrow way.  This is represented by the small space towards the top of the letter hei – ה – the narrow gate that leads towards teshuvah (repentance). On the other hand, “surely he scorneth scorners” can be understood to mean that G-d will also give occasion to those whose way is stubbornly opposed to following G-d’s word. The scorners are bent on following their own way that leads to “defilement;” for them, the way is broad, symbolized by the broad space at the bottom of the letter hei: ה.

“Know whence you came and to where you are going and before Whom you are destined to give a final accounting.” – Pirkei Avos 3:1

“The whole wide world is a very narrow bridge.”

– R’ Nachman of Breslov

daily contemplation: Equanimity

B”H

February 20, 2020

The depths of pain, the heights of joy; yet, there is an equanimity to be found somewhere within the presence of G-d. “Whither shall I go from Thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there; if I make my bed in the nether-world, behold, Thou art there” (Psalm 139:7–8, JPS 1917 Tanach). “Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even weaned as a child” (Psalm 131:2, JPS 1917 Tanach).

A child weaned denotes an equanimity, wherein a person is content in this world with whatever G-d brings his way. The soul grows accustomed to whatever sustenance that G-d provides for spiritual growth. Suffering will often compel a person to reach out towards G-d; and, joy will draw out words of praise to Him. How much more so, when G-d has lifted a struggling soul, high above its personal pains and sufferings, will there indeed be reason to rejoice?

note – this is reposted from my answer to the question:

“Why is suffering just as important as joy?”

(see my profile, Tzvi Fievel at quora.com)

daily contemplation: Still Waters

B”H

February 19, 2020

Where can we find the “still waters” of our life? In our busyness, there is little room for reflection. “He leadeth me beside the still waters” (Psalm 23:2). Our recompense for turning to G-d at times of disquietude is that we will eventually be shown a place within time to settle down, and reflect on what is important.

These opportunities are a necessary ingredient of a life focused on G-d. Perhaps, even moreso, for those who are not as focused on G-d in their lives, finding a quiet time to reflect is even more important. What is the rationale behind this statement? My point is only that without the nurturing presence of G-d in our lives, there is more turmoil. I speak from experience.

By neglecting to spend time with G-d during the day, we are deprived of the corresponding solace that only He can provide. For someone who has not made a sincere effort in his life to turn towards G-d, the need for solace will be greater, because of the tumult, stress, and hectic pace of a life where G-d is not part of the equation. Therefore, it is important to turn our hearts to G-d often enough to receive His invitation to immerse ourselves “beside the still waters,” lest we find ourselves swept away by the secular currents of the modern world.