web analytics
April 26, 2015 / 7 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


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.

Current Top Story
What Obama does not say but write on personal emails now is known to Russian hackers.
Russian Hackers Reading Obama’s Personal E-mails
Latest Indepth Stories
Former New York Governor George Pataki

Pataki is the last Republican Governor to win a majority of Jewish votes.

President Obama

Obama’s desire to be “fair” enables Iran to get nuclear weapons which will threaten global security

israeli-american flags

All GOP candidates will continue seeking – and praying – for Jewish money with greater success.

New immigrants from USA and Canada arriving at Ben Gurion Airport.

The one reason to make Aliyah outweighs all the arguments not to move to Israel.

“We returned to this Land not in order to be murdered, or uprooted. We came here to be replanted!”

I don’t fear for the future of our people because I believe Yeshiva University has created an “Iron Dome” of Jewish leadership

Poland’s great Jewish cities where Jewish life had once flourished and thrived, were now desolate

Chief rabbi, Rav Dovid Lau, stated that the Torah community’s turnout in the WZO election is vital.

Iran has at its core the same ideology as that of ISIS but, inaccurately, is thought a lesser threat

An early Yom Ha’atzmaut gathering for Israel’s 67th birthday with Pres. Rivlin of Israel and guests

Israel’s Memorial Day shouldn’t be a day of mourning, it’s a day to honor, not another Holocaust Day

God’s 3 part promise for Israel: to the Avot; a plentiful land; the eventual return home by all Jews

A committed Religious Zionist, he was a sought-after adviser on Zionist affairs around the world.

More important, Mr. Obama is simply acceding to Iran’s position on the timing of the lifting of sanctions.

“Texans share a lot of the same attitude as Israelis, that we say what we think and we think what we say, and that makes it much easier to communicate,” he says.

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”

Weizmann Institute of Science researchers are teaming with RIKEN scientists from Japan to explore the brain mechanisms underlying Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

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: