Today, I woke up in dread. A feeling of loss, of deep sadness, weighed heavy on my heart. For a moment, I forgot that it was day, that the sun had risen filling the sky with light. Though my neighbors were busy greeting one another with a cheerful “good morning,” I could not see them. The birds were circling the trees above busily chirping their morning song, but I couldn’t hear them. Fresh coffee was brewing in my kitchen, its pleasant aroma filling the rooms and hallways of our humble abode, but I could not smell it. It was as if all of my senses had been abducted and locked away in some deep dark basement. But such is the outcome of depression, of fixating on “the bad,” on what is wrong with the world. Often we forget that the achieving (and maintaining) of happiness is less about “perfection” - life unfolding in some imagined perfect order - and more about adaptation, our ability to find an “Option B,” a path that moves us around the obstacle of the moment. In short, from a Torah perspective there is no such thing as a dead end! Please, remove that term from your vocabulary.
What does the Torah have to say?
Nearly 400 years ago, the master Kabbalist, Rabbi Issac Luria of Tzvat (the Ari’zl) explained that all phenomena (physical and spiritual) possess not one but two dimensions: “Chitzoniut” (Hebrew for “External”) and “Pinimut” (Hebrew for “Internal”). Explains the Ari’zl, the external dimension (of a given thing) represents limitation, its definition as far as our coarse senses can measure it. In contrast, a thing’s internal dimension represents its limitless potential - all that it can be in the eyes of God. Life’s depressions arise specifically because we ONLY see the externally limited “Option A” (of a given situation), forgetting, altogether, that a much deeper (limitless) “Option B” exists! Simply stated, we forget that God has already arranged “another path” (an alternate road) by which we can maneuver around and conquer the challenge of the moment.
Ok, so how do I find it?
In short, you must “sweat!” Permit me to explain. It is said of Rabbi Issac Luria (the Ari’zl) that he would immerse himself hour after hour in the study of Biblical law until he would physically perspire (you could actually see the sweat dripping from his brow)! When other Rabbis inquired as to why he would exert himself with such intensity, the Ari’zl poetically explained that surrounding every good “fruit” there exists a “shell,” i.e. surrounding every good truth there exists a barrier obscuring its revelation. “If I do not exert myself,” the Ari’zl explained, “how can I possibly crack the shell?” To the Ari’zl all of life’s questions (the “shell”) no matter the complexity, possess an answer (the “fruit”) attainable - only if you are willing to “sweat” (exert yourself) until the “shell” is broken - the answer is found. Hence, to discover the “fruit” of a much deeper “Option B” (within a given challenge), you must be willing to “sweat” - to exert yourself - until you break the mighty “shell” (the great lie) that suggests you have reached a dead end.
Only by believing that “God creates the cure before the disease” (Rabbis), i.e. that an Option B always exists no matter the formidability of the challenge, can we rise above our fears to crack the “shell,” the great illusion, that today’s challenge can’t be bested. Such exertion most certainly will reveal the “fruit,” the happiness, of our deepest and truest self.
There is ALWAYS an option B.....find it!