The letters of our thoughts are the ideas present in our mind before they come to realization . . . Thoughts that are, yet not felt . . . The words of the subconscious . . . of the soul . . .

These are the LETTERS OF MY THOUGHTS.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Forged in the Crucible of Life


Often we are told that various experiences in our lives are Hashgacha Protis, divine providence . . .

Stories are told of the man who stayed in shul an extra few minutes to say slichos with a minyan and thus came late to work -only to find out that had he been sitting in his cubicle in the World Trade Center, he would have lost his life in the terrorist attack on that fateful morning in September.

Then there is one of the person who missed his flight, only to later hear that it crashed . . .

These stories show the hand of G-d at work in the world. They wake us up, they inspire and teach . . . but they are far from the ultimate revelation.

Nature - the mundane - is the true hashgacha protis. The unending grind of life with its ins and outs, the undulating current of the sea as it sends the water crashing to the shore -only to pull it back once more to its source, the jet stream of the winds as they pass through the endlessly bleak deserts, jagged cliffs and vibrant forests, the crawling of the ant as it pushes a grain of sand up a hill, the path of flight that a single leaf takes as it floats down from its former abode on high in a tree to its new one on the forest flore . . . All of these are hashgacha Protis.

Life is the greatest revelation of G-dliness -the miracles that we do not see are the ones that reveal the true essence of the Creator.

When we see an open miracle we see G-d breaking the matrix of reality to express Himself. There is G-d, and there is the world. G-d controls the world.
When we don't see, we are shown how reality itself is not a contradiction to the expression of G-dliness, ipso facto -the world is the greatest articulation of G-dliness . . .

If every facet of our lives is G-d's will manifest, how then are we affected by it?

We are guided by our inborn natural talents and abilities, our flaws and challenges. We are endowed with a G-dly soul -a veritable part of the Creator, and tested by the base desires of the animal soul. We are forged in the crucible of life -the various experiences of the vicissitudes of this world.

To what degree are we made by these factors, and to what degree do we make use of them?

An example: children of divorce.

There is no denying that such an event can leave an indelible mark on one's life -but how so?

There are those who would (incorrectly) say that a person who experiences such an event must be negatively effected . . . How could he not?
There must be something lacking in his social skills, his understanding of how a healthy family unit should function and the like. I am sure that there are those that may suffer from the adverse effects of negative past experiences.

Every experience does indeed contribute to the tapestry of our lives -but they need not do so directly . . . Two people may witness the same event, but step away with very different experiences. What breaks one person, builds the other.

A king once had a prized jewel, an exquisite diamond - perfection glinted from every luminous facet as he held it to the light. This gem, he felt, would be the crown jewel in his magnificent diadem.
One morning the king woke and, upon taking out his precious treasure, found much to his dismay that there was a single thin crack descending down its face.
The greatest jewelers were called to look at the stone in the hopes of fixing it, but nothing could be done -the crack ran so deeply down the face of diamond that any effort to remove it would ruin it.

Finally one jeweler, a simple man from one of the neighboring villages, stepped forward. He would save the diamond.

The king laughed, the greatest craftsmen in the world had seen the gem, and deemed it hopeless -how could this simple jeweler hope to do anything?
Seeing, though, that there was nothing to loose, the king informed the jeweler that he could spend a single night with the diamond. If he managed to fix it, then he would see great reward. If, however, he did not succeed . . .

Locked in his room, the jeweler took a long look at the stone. It was truly magnificent, sparkling like the fire of the sun on the surface of the water. As well though, the crack, however thin, could not be removed without destroying the precious crown jewel in the proccess. What could be done?

The next morning the jeweler came out with the the stone in hand - a look of triumph on his face.

When he produced the gemstone, the entire royal court - the queen, the ministers, even the jester - went into an uproar; the scratch had not been removed -it stood in its place. The jeweler had instead etched a rose, the symbol of the kingdom, on the face of the diamond, turning the crack into the stem.

The king stood up from his place and embraced the simple jeweler.

"Now I truly have my crown jewel!" he said. "Until now the diamond was magnificent, the best I had ever seen. It was, however, no different from any other stone. Now, though, I have a truly unique treasure!"

In other words: my life is not effected by my surrounding, rather my surroundings effect my life. Though this may sound like mere semantics the point is clear:

If something comes from G-d - who is the essence of good - and if it is a revelation of G-dliness in the deepest form . . . then why should we assume the effect it had as a cog in the sum total of the machine of life was anything but for the good?


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16 comments:

cheerio said...

the last couple of posts have been wonderfully written. you present concepts in such an elegant way, that even though i have heard them before, i understand them in a new or deeper way now.
thanks.

Mottel said...

I'm glad you like them, thank you -it makes the time and energy I invest in writing them worth while!
As to typos thanks . . . as we all know, they happen -especially with me :-)

Perel said...

May we all be zoche to carve our own roses, ultimately carving out the geula sheleima!
Very very nicely written and worth the effort, yasher koyach!

freedomfreiz said...

Mottel, lately some real serious toichen adorning your blog!! Very well expressed, though you bring out 2 different points and they would probably be articulated better if they were part of 2 separate posts. (Both points obviously being a)nature really the biggest miracles and b) your point on ones surroundings v'dal)

Avi Z. said...

"Growing up in a divorced family greatly increases the chances of ending one's own marriage, a phenomenon called the divorce cycle or the intergenerational transmission of divorce," says Wolfinger, assistant professor in the University of Utah's Department of Family and Consumer Studies.

Hence the reason why people like you are looked on as a scratch.

Mottel said...

FreedomFreiz -You're right they are two separate inyunim -but they segue into each other, the first part ultimately being used in the conclusion of the second. What we're dealing with is Hashgacha Protis . . .

Avi Z. - I often find it funny how pop-psychology and Judaism are brought together to fend for age old prejudices (Baruch Hashem most people that I know don't do it) -for what strange bed fellows they make.
The above statistic, which may very well be true, can not -as is the case by all statistics, be applied indiscriminately . . .

Especially when it was one conducted on the population as a whole, and not on the Orthodox Jewish population. Though problems exist through out the spectrum, standards and halacha guide our lives (hopefully) on much higher level then that of the general population . . .

What is more, and here I challenge you, where is there a source in Torah for this line of thinking?

me said...

BS"D
Wow.
Simply and beautifully written. You put a deeply alterating impression within me of how to look at a child of divorced parents. Thank you.

Nemo said...

Avi Z.-

That line of thinking is silly. Many children of divorces, myself included, have matured to see the faults of their parents' marriages and have been moved to change those issues in their own lives. I understand where the concern is coming from, but I would say that many of us may be better spouses, because we try so hard not to make our parents' mistakes.

Mottel said...

ME -Such a change makes blogging worth it :-)

Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful blog entry that brought tears to my eyes. Pop culture is exactly what it implies. It surfaces and fades in time. May the trials of this century be revealed as the "rose on the stem". Labeling a child of divorce is disabling. Where in the writings of our sages does it say to shame a child of divorce? Moses himself wrote it into our holy torah (as directed by the Almighty) that divorce be an option to certain disabling situations. I am sure the Bal ShemTov, or a Rabbi Akiba would be challenged in todays shidduchim climate. Congratulations on an entry sensitively and profoundly written.

me said...

BS"D
The only thing is, is that it's not enough to say you can transform a hard situation into a greater purpose.
You can't just sit there and say that you will grow from this experience.
You have to go and carve out that rose. You have to be a constant work in progress. Everyone suffers from things in life that can make them stronger and greater people-only if they work on! We have to be PROACTIVE to make a difference in who we are and who we are becomming.

I recently read that most husbands who help in the home and and are their for their wife and children, are not necessarily men who come from great homes where their father's helped etc. Rather, the greater majority are men who came from abusive, neglected, etc. homes and made a CONCIENTIOUS DECISION to be different from their fathers...

Everyone has skeletons in the closet, at least with a kid from a divorced home, you know the truth. You don't find out horrible stories afterwards... everythings out on the table to begin with.

Nemo said...

Me-

Sorry to be the anti-feminist, but there are two sides in every divorce and it's not always about abusive husbands. It's not always about abuse either... Their are millions of reasons that people divorce...

me said...

BS"D
I know that obviously!
Mind the "etc..." lol.
Obviously women can be awful as well, and causes of divorce vary from every spectrum of possibility...

Avi Z. said...

The parents relationship in the family and the structure they create represent G-d to their children...

Therefore if the parents do not have a healthy relationship (for example in extremity - divorce) children will ultimately struggle in their connection to G-d.

Mottel said...

Avi Z. If you can not bring a solid proof to your words - Chapter and Verse, then please leave the Boich Svaros where you found them.
I know of only one Torah which says: לֹא-יוּמְתוּ אָבוֹת עַל-בָּנִים, וּבָנִים לֹא-יוּמְתוּ עַל-אָבוֹת: אִישׁ בְּחֶטְאוֹ, יוּמָתוּ (Yes I know p'shat -uber ain posuk yotzei midei pshuto)

For one to assume that some how their has been a weakening in one's connection to G-d due to past relationships is foolish . . . One need look no further then the person's Yiras Shamayim to see how he has been effected.

What is more, I am shocked by the audacity and self-righteousness one needs to look at the situation so superficially . . . Can you honestly claim that by hearing individual factoids about an event you know every facet of what transgressed? If I told you there was a war between America and England, you could only learn three things from the statement.

1. That there was an America
2. There was an England
3. At some point in time they had a war.

One does not know who 'won' (America), how long it lasted (eight years), if there were any additional wars between these two countries (the War of 1812), and their current relationship (one of our closest allies). Based on pure assumption one could very well bring 'logical' proof that England 'won' -after all they had the larger army, or perhaps now the two countries are bitter enemies -why would they share any bond of kinship after a war?

אמת has three letters -the first, middle and last of the Aleph Beis . . . The truth takes through everything it permeates the beginning, middle and end of all. Look for the truth and you can do no wrong.

Elisheva said...

Growing up in a divorced family greatly increases the chances of starting a blog.

I just read 'em how I see 'em.