Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pools of Sorrow Waves of Joy

And how can you achieve such concentration? By recognizing that everything you do is important to God, and is one vital piece of the larger picture of your life.
Rebbe from Lubavitch

Last week was a rather disheartening week for me. Nothing too important, just personal stuff that did not go well and caused me to search for justification for my entire existence. You know, that blah blah stuff like: what’s the purpose of my life? Why am I here? And that most funnest of all thoughts: what do I want to be when I finally grow up?

We all know that life isn't always fair. Lynn Anderson declared that nobody is promised a Rose Garden. Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans, said John Lennon (just before he was murdered). "Cheer up", my Dad (z"l) would tell me, "things could be worse"! (And I would cheer up and sure enough, things got worse...). Der mentsh trakht un Got lakht, (Man proposes, God disposes) my mother always said. I could go on, but my mother likes to have the final word.

But, I sometimes wonder, can’t anything ever go the way I would like?

Of course, there are lots of very good things in my life, but…. Always the but.

Over Shabbat, I realized I had to get over myself and cheer up. Yesterday was Rosh Chodesh Adar. Mi she’nichnas Adar, marbim b’simcha. When Adar enters, our happiness should increase. So say our sages. But sometimes it’s hard.

Purim is in two weeks. Purim is one of the few holidays I happen to love, mostly because there’s not that much cooking. I also love the story of Purim, the action, the costumes (on the kid TV shows), and most especially the characters.

Several years ago, I wrote a very short comparison between the two queens of the Purim story, Vashti and Esther. I’m not going to include the whole thing here but this is what I wrote about Esther:
Orphaned, separated from her people, Esther begins her lonely existence in the palace, forsaken, it seems, even by G-d, for no miracle ever comes to save her.
The miracles and salvation of Purim happened through Esther, but not to her. She lived out her life in the seclusion of the monarchy, far from her people.

If a miracle did not save heroic, righteous Esther, why am expecting something to happen to me?

We know, of course, that G-d did not forsake Esther; that her name and her deeds have lived on for 200 generations. But Esther did not know that then.

We can’t always see why things happen. Neither can we see what contribution we are making to the world around us. We might feel useless, unneeded, even disliked (I’m writing in the royal ‘We’ here, but really it should be ‘I’). 
But we also don’t know what a word in the right direction might do to another person. We don’t know how far one small act of kindness, like ripples in water, can spread. 
That is where we can always find our joy. Then our joy can increase by increasing our good words, our acts of kindness, our tolerance, our decency, our love. 

There is no doubt that at times we fail. At times we feel like failures.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe also says if you did things right, celebrate that you have a G‑d who appreciates your good work. And if you fell on your face, celebrate that you have a G‑d who does not abandon you when you fall. 
Wishing all of Am Yisrael a joyous month and may we be blessed and united with the boundless love of Esther; that the way should be paved for the rebuilding of the Holy Temple and the coming of the Mashiach, speedily, and in our days. 

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