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A Mature Approach to Pain

When I read the papers and listen to the radio, I see that the nations of the world treat me differently, because I belong to the Jewish people. The attitude is laden with anti-Semitic emotions, that make me feel frightened and hostile everywhere I go outside of Israel.

Even within Israel and around it there are peoples who wish to destroy, or at the very least, subdue us. I have to treat this situation as one that comes to me from the Creator, to see him as the cause of this hostility and hatred among them – and that it is happening in my favor, so that I will change my line of thinking and the way I work. It is happening so that I will rise over my normal human reaction, from an instinctive reaction of what my eyes see, to the questioning of the reasons to what actually happens around me.

If I do not relate to the phenomenon of anti-Semitism as it is, but to the reason behind it, I will then be operating in the spiritual degree called “man.” This is the only way for me to develop an ability to understand the essence of events. Instead of running away from situations, like an animal runs from a hunter, I can actually change external causes.

There is one reason for all the pains: to make us wonder at their meaning, to raise man from a level of purposely suffering to a level where he thinks and analyzes the reason and the purpose for the pains. Any one can interpret the purpose and the reason for the pain, depending on his origin and the inclination of his heart, but they all agree that pain makes us think about the reason and the purpose, which are one in the eyes of the Kabbalah.

The spreading of the wisdom of Kabbalah reveals the purpose and cause of the pains to the public awareness.

Thus, we shorten the time that every person needs in order to understand the cause and the purpose of suffering, and realize that there is no pain without a reason, but that there is a source to it – the Creator. He is the one sending us the pains, and he has a clear goal in mind in inflicting so much pain on us for thousands of years now, not giving us a chance to save ourselves.

The purpose of the operations that the Creator performs on us is to develop in us, through a series of negative situations, a grownup attitude to pain. Therefore, we should not escape them, only utilize them, and see them as a gift from the Creator.

If we use them correctly, we can turn them into a vessel that will be constantly filled with infinite knowledge and delight. If we rise above the ordinary feeling of suffering and try to understand what causes it, then instead of feeling the stick, we would feel the Creator, the giver of the pain, the one who holds the stick. That is what the Creator wants from us!

And then the pain will stop! The Creator is leading us to his goal, through our own egoistic desires to delight ourselves alone. Just like a child is tempted into doing something with a sweet, he gradually, over ascents (good feelings) and descents (bad feelings), leads us to want to be in permanent connection with him, to need him.

In the beginning, this connection between man and the Creator is based on man’s benefit. Later on, because there is a need to survive, man develops that connection and begins an entirely different phase of development, a completely different attitude to pleasure and reward. From a will to receive pleasure only through the body, man moves on to a desire to receive pleasure ‘above’ the body, a reward that does not depend on the sensations of the body, the fears or the bodily pleasures.

In other words, man begins to understand that there can be a much higher reward than the bodily one. The reward that man expects no longer comes from the fear that once compelled him to maintain contact with the Creator. He feels as though the fears of the body slowly disappear like a long coat slowly slipping off the shoulders, or like a snake sloughs its skin. He no longer acts by the calculation of what will be good or bad for him.

He no longer relies on this life to maintain contact with the Creator, but a new need forms in him: to be in constant connection with the Creator, freed from the physical body and its feelings. That need creates in man a permanent desire to feel the Creator. It becomes so strong, that it pains him if bodily pleasures distract his mind from contact with the Creator.

If a person experiences this entire chain of feelings and insights, he begins to thank the Creator and love him for having sent him all these ‘negative’ feelings, because it is these that brought him to contact the Creator.

Therefore, it is most important to strengthen this feeling, so that no corporeal obstruction would break this inner connection with the Creator, but intensify it.

The difficulty in this matter becomes clear if we picture to ourselves how Jews felt during the Spanish inquisition. What fear and loathing these black cloaks, the burnings, torments and the cruel manslaughter aroused. How was it possible to find the contact with the Creator behind this terrifying hell? How could they see that that was the Creator’s way of bringing them to him, that by that he wanted them to rise to the degree where they could feel him?

But if a person does not connect with the Creator, he falls to his bodily, beastly degree. At that time, he is destined to a fate of pain, degradation and death. Only rising to the level of the Creator can open before man the entire picture of reality through the ruining of the temples, the persecutions, the Spanish inquisition, and up to the contemporary threats of destruction by our enemies.

There is not a country that will agree to give us sanctuary. We are surrounded by enemies today as we always have been. The nations of the world – The United States, Russia, and Great Britain, France and Germany are activating their influence on the Arabs and on us. They keep us under siege, constantly exposed to a threat of destruction. Though there is nothing new in this approach toward us, the situation today is different because we seem to have more power than before. We seem to have more freedom of choice, internal and external, corporeal and spiritual.

But this freedom (our own state, our own government and independence) is an illusion. It is given to us precisely so as to come to a deep comprehension that all that is not going to help us, even if we do have everything the other nations have. We would still remain directly dependent on the Creator, who created this reality the way it is, and this is the reason we will never be like other nations, because the Creator will not allow that to happen to us.

That is why we are today in the same situation as the Jews in Spain were, when they were persecuted and hated from all sides. They had no refuge.

Today we too have nowhere to run. No country wants the state of Israel to exist. We know it and feel this eternal ‘Masada syndrome’ (Masada was a fortress held by Jews that was under siege by the Romans in the first century A.C., who’s inhabitants preferred to commit joint suicide than to be captured by the Romans. C.R.). That feeling will never let us be until we discover the Creator – he is the one who is holding us under siege. In the land of Israel, he surrounded us with Romans, and in exile he surrounded us with anti-Semitism, the inquisition, and the deportations.

And so it is today, although we are no longer in exile, Masada is still inside us, and we feel we are inside it. We cannot escape it, although we have already been given this land and this country from above, and the world seemingly acknowledges our existence.

It is time to face the reason for the Masada syndrome. In previous centuries we have accumulated the required amount of pain needed to return to the Creator. It is true that we suffered horrible torments, but there was no other way, and that is how we should think of the past. But today the situation has overturned; we have to take the future into our own hands!

We came out of this last exile after having accumulated the entire lot of pain needed to see the reasons for the exile. And the reason was to bring the disconnection from the Creator to our awareness, to understand that we were driven out of the spiritual world, and that what we really need is the sensation of the Creator, and not mere peace and comfort in this world.

The greatest Kabbalist of the 20th century, Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, wrote that all the exiles were intended for us to understand their causes. Today, we can understand them better, which is why we ended the last exile and were given the revelation of the book of Zohar.

Through the perpetual fear and sense of danger, our nation is gradually learning to see that it is in these situations that contact with the Creator is created; that all these perils that hang about our heads, have but one goal – to make us look for contact with the Creator.

When the contact with the Creator is attained through all these pains, it takes the form of worlds: the world of Assiya, Yetzira, Beria, Atzilut, and the world of Ein Sof. When that contact intensifies, it is called an ascent in the spiritual worlds. In the end, there is such a strong connection, that man attaches himself completely to the Creator and unites with him.

Kabbalists who are in contact with the Creator, while being in the physical body, feel their mission, in addition to their sensation of the Creator. It is to help all those who live in a corporeal body to attain, if only a little bit, contact with the Creator.

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