Friday, September 19, 2008

Listen to the open blessings of life

A Thought For Shabbat:

This week we read a very gripping description of the curses that Moshe promises the retribution if we stray from the path of G-d.

The narrative is gripping and a brief sweep across the horizon of Jewish history tells us that tragically those warnings have been proven manifold...

But is that all there is to it?

...Dovber, a young child not even Bar Mitzva, would sit in Shul every week and listen to his father, the renowned Baal Hatanya (whose Birthday is today) read the Torah.

One year, on this Shabbat of the reading of the "curses", his father was out of town and one of the other rabbis in the community read it in his place.

As the reader began the customary undertone lamenting the tragedies that would befall the Jewish People, little Dovber, a bright child with an astute mind but equally emotional sensitivity suddenly felt nausea and by the time the reading was over he had taken ill.

(So much so, two weeks later on Yom Kippur there was discussion whether he would even be able to fast)

When he had already recovered one of his friends asked him why he suddenly became so emotionally overwhelmed hearing the curses if in fact he had already heard them read a number of times?

"When my father reads" explained Dovber, "I hear blessings."

The Baal HaTanya read the same Biblical premonitions that we do, but he only saw and heard blessings.

No, he wasn't G-d forbid delusional or theoretical.

He was a realist as much as any of us - but he looked beyond the headlines.

Yes, even if you didn't invest your life's saving in Lehman Brother's no one is having it easy - and not just financially.

These are trying times for G-d's children the world over - in so many ways...

And yet, my inner sense tells me that we can still hear blessings.

They may not be in the headlines - but the Baal HaTanya taught us that even the hardships of the Torah are only a layer, a surface, a cover - waiting to be peeled away to expose the true blessings inside.

Far be it from me to preach to another that their suffering isn't real and painful.

But I can pass on the message that there's more to the story - don't just read the headlines, even of your own life.

Listen to the open blessings of life - which we still do have - be it a ray of sunshine, a rush of fresh air, a moment with a close friend, a child's smile, or just the fact that we're still alive.

And soon we'll please G-d see those blessings in our headlines.

Wishing you a Shabbat or listening to the blessings - even in the headlines,

Rabbi Avi and Dena Rabin