web analytics
September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Temptations, Tests, and the Search for Spiritual Courage

Temptations are ways of teaching people about G-d and the incredible human capacity for compassion and spiritual depth.
696251927

Rebbe Nachman takes us even one step further in how we can understand the tests in front of us, and radically suggests that G-d is the test itself. God is hidden within the test, just as God was hidden in the burning bush.

He is proposing a spiritual meditation where we don’t see G-d as the one placing an obstacle before us but rather see the face of G-d within the challenge itself. To phrase this graphically, it seems to me that this provides the opportunity to spiritually blow up the danger and fear found in our challenges and to see a loving G-d in the midst of it.

The Malbim actually suggests that G-d asks more of us than possible (what is beyond the limits of human nature to do G-d’s will) – and that since such behavior is beyond our normal capabilities, there is no limit to the amount that is possible.

This reminds me of Viktor Frankl’s explanation that survival in the concentration camps was most often not based on physical strength, wealth, political connections, or religiosity. Rather it was about the ability to construct meaning, the ability to make sense of the immense challenge placed before them. Man is ultimately driven by a search for meaning.

When we see every challenge as a test (from G-d, from our boss, of our will) we can fall into the trap of black/white binaries, in which the only possible results are success or failure.

But as a Jewish community, there are more options for the future than just Moshiach (redemption) or galus (exile). And as individuals, there are more options than passing or failing. The deepest learning is not the evaluation of the tester but the self-revelation that emerges with every obstacle. By replacing the challenge, obstacle, or test with the face of G-d, we not only grow religiously but learn to persevere, as we re-channel our desires in more productive ways.

So I didn’t eat the delicious cuisine calling my name in the end but I may have picked up a few new tools for addressing temptations and tests.

I’m inspired here by Mother Theresa, one of my greatest 20th century heroes. She changed the position of the nun from a person who primarily studies and prays in the seminary to one who serves the needy in the streets. One day in India, she heard the crying of an old sick woman from a Dumpster. This woman would not pass away (would not let go), because she said she was so resentful of her sons who neglected her and left her to die alone in the Dumpster. Mother Theresa looked the old woman in the eyes and demanded that she forgive them. The woman took her last deep breath, forgave her sons, and passed away.

This woman was able to locate and remove the obstacle to let herself die – what are the emotional and spiritual obstacles in our lives that we must remove in order to start to live? What is an obstacle that you’re currently facing and what is your spiritual/emotional strategy to overcome it? I hope we can all find partners to work through these challenges together to actualize our potentials. Tests can be transformed into gifts.

About the Author: Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz is the executive director of the Valley Beit Midrash, the founder & president of Uri L’Tzedek, the founder and CEO of The Shamayim V’Aretz Institute and the author of books on Jewish ethics, most recently “The Soul of Jewish Social Justices.” Newsweek named Rav Shmuly one of the top 50 rabbis in America.”


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Temptations, Tests, and the Search for Spiritual Courage”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
ISIS executioner holding British aid worker Alan Henning as a hostage.
Muslims Plead with ISIS for Life of UK Aid Worker Alan Henning
Latest Indepth Stories
IDF lone soldier and  David Menachem Gordon (z"l).

Why has his death been treated by some as an invitation for an emotional “autopsy”?

Starck-091914

SWOT analysis: Assessing resources, internal Strengths&Weaknesses; external Opportunities&Threats.

Kohn-091914

Strategy? For the longest time Obama couldn’t be bothered to have one against a sworn enemy.

Miller-091914

Seventeen visual skills are needed for success in school, sports, and everyday life.

We started The Jewish Press. Arnie was an integral part of the paper.

Fear alone is substantial; without fusing it to beauty, fear doesn’t reach its highest potential.

Fortunate are we to have Rosh Hashanah for repentance, a shofar to awaken heavenly mercy.

Arab leaders who want the US to stop Islamic State are afraid of being dubbed traitors and US agents

National Lawyers Guild:Sworn enemy of Israel & the legal arm of Palestinian terrorism since the ’70s

A little less than 10 percent of eligible Democratic voters came out on primary day, which translates into Mr. Cuomo having received the support of 6.2 percent of registered Democrats.

The reality, though, is that the Israeli “war crimes” scenario will likely be played out among highly partisan UN agencies, NGOs, and perhaps even the International Criminal Court.

Peace or the lack of it between Israel and the Palestinians matters not one whit when it comes to the long-term agenda of ISIS and other Islamists, nor does it affect any of the long-running inter-Arab conflicts and wars.

Rather than serving as a deterrent against terrorist attacks, Israel’s military strength and capabilities are instead looked at as an unfair advantage in the asymmetrical war in which it finds itself.

Sisi:”The religious nature of the Middle East creates challenges for the governing authorities.”

More Articles from Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz
book-Unify-A-Nation

While Lipman comes from an ultra-Orthodox background and is an Orthodox rabbi, he offers a breath of fresh air when he suggests that “polarization caused by extremism and isolationism in the religious community may be the greatest internal threat to the future of the Jewish people”

Brain-waves

Medical practitioners have been observing neuroplasticity for many years in patients following a stroke.

Man has been in descent since revelation and that we have been rendered impotent.

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz prohibited guide dogs from the lower plaza of the Western Wall.

Religion and science indicate that when we are born, our hearts and minds are still wide open and we have the innocence to truly engage in transformative learning.

As the Chasidic teaching illustrates, we often seek the guidance of religious leaders and texts to find ourselves.

Big tobacco promotes one of the most addictive and life-threatening substances known to humanity.

Many adults can now take up to 12 weeks off from work to care for an ill parent without losing their job, under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/temptations-tests-and-the-search-for-spiritual-courage/2013/08/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: