Minute 768:Building Blocks
Mrs. Levin patiently tried to calm her six-year-old but wasn’t succeeding.
“He broke my house,” the little one screamed through his tears. “I worked so hard and now it’s gone. Why aren’t you punishing him?”
Mom, however, remained calm because she realized her son was overreacting. After all, it was a house of blocks and not worth the emotional outburst its destruction was causing. It wasn’t the major tragedy the child perceived.
Some people suffer great distress over material losses because they’ve placed an inordinate amount of importance on the physical world. They see financial misfortune through an emotional magnifying glass which arouses feelings of hate and revenge forbidden by Torah law. Damage to one’s possessions is not something that one can easily ignore, but to exaggerate the importance of such incidents is also the wrong approach.
The Pele Yoetz (“Tzaar”) tells of a group of people who lost a large amount of money. Only one person in the group was able to go on living a happy life. The others asked how he could react so differently than they did. He answered with an analogy.
“A man came into a room where several people were sleeping. They were having nightmares and crying in their sleep. The man who was awake was not crying because he realized it was all a dream. I see this world as a dream. Others experience nightmares, but I’m awake and see that their suffering is only illusory.”
One must trust that this world is a fleeting moment in the life of a neshamah. Parts of life are unpleasant or even painful experiences. The way to stay happy, as the Torah requires, is to put things in perspective. See suffering as temporary and somewhat illusory.
One More Second: Another Thought For the Day
Suffering is a great teacher. Suffering teaches you the limitations of your power; it reminds you of the frailty of your health, the instability of your possessions and the inadequacy of your means, which have only been lent to you and must be returned as soon as the Owner desires it. Suffering visits you and teaches you the nothingness of your false greatness. It teaches you modesty. (Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, Horeb, vol. 1, p. 36)
Rabbi Raymond Beyda serves in the Sephardic Community in Brooklyn, N.Y. He is author of the book 1 Minute With Yourself: A Minute a Day to Self-Improvement, Sephardic Press, 2008.