Growing in Emunah – Facing the Greatest Challenges


By Rabbi Yechezkel Spanglet                                                                                   

Today, we will discuss some of the most challenging yesurim. We hope that some of the information conveyed here will provide understandings and authentic to ways to accept and grow from these kinds of nisyonos.

Losing a loved one, particularly a spouse or parent at a young age, causes amongst the most intense agony, loneliness and grief possible in olam hazeh. A person feels that part of him is missing. And there is no one in the world that can understand unless they have undergone the same experience.  The Torah understands this anguish in the mitvah “Do not oppress the “yasom and almana”(Shemos,22:21). Rashi points out that this mitzvah applies to anyone- Why did the Torah choose to specify this group; it is because their hurt is especially poignant. The Rambam(Hilchos Daos) adds, that it is especially important to be sensitive to their emotional state and empathetic to their needs.

There is meaning in our loss, for everything Hashem does is for a purpose. He implants within us the inner strength to cope and through our emunah we can sprout. His infinite loves never diminishes.  It is our challenge to internalize this fact.  In the darkness moments… that is where you will find Hashem’s embrace.

Although coping with such similar situations is difficult, we should not despair. For He cares for us- we are not alone. Even though the malachim can only carry a person’s tefillot to Shamayim in loshon hakodesh, he may doven for a choleh in a foreign language. Why? For the Shechina is present in the patient’s and everywhere. (Making Sense of Suffering, Rabbi  Yitzchak Kirzner) The Gemarah says in Mesechta Brochos that our caring Father cries every night, so to speak, for His children to return from galus.

Yet we worry about our loved one who is no longer present. My Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Reuvan Feinstein,shlita, said  that we  need not to worry about the niftar for he is in a much better place than us. He continues, we must worry about the plight of the living.   However, this plight can be transformed into growth and actualization.

How is this so? The Midrash Yalkut Shemoni compares the Jew to the olive. Just as the olive must be crushed in order to produce the oil of the menorah, a Yid’s unrealized potential can be unleashed while undergoing “crushing” circumstances. For example, through yesurim we must face situations that perforce cause us to mature.  Difficult challenges help us to improve and sharpen our middos. A lazy person can transform himself one who is productive and industrious. If until now he concentrated on his own needs, through the tzaar, he becomes more empathetic and focused on the needs of others. Major chesed organizations were founded by people who underwent losses and yesurim because their sensitivities were more developed. In our pinmius, Hashem has implanted the ability to change. Through the struggle is the reward.

Many Gedolei Hador, including the Chafetz Chayim, were yesomim. How could they reach such heights under such trying circumstances? Because they did not give up and and built themselves. This is gadlus, and the pinnacle of achievement in the Abishter’s Eyes. Through this inner development and acceptance of Hashem’s will and, we bond to Him, the greatest possible pleasure in this world. The Maharal teaches that in accordance with the mesiras nefesh that we exhibit does the Al-lmighty change His hanhaga toward us in similar fashion.(Derech Chayim on Meseches Avos).

Of course we are not privy to the chesbonos of Shamayim. A brain of a few centimeters cannot begin to grasp the infinite wisdom and understanding of Benefactor of the universe. Some factors affecting our lives will not be understood until we get the Yeshiva Shel Maaleh and some occurred before our birth. However, an Adam Gadol said where logic ends, emunah begins.

Emunah is the greatest tool for us to cope, grow and achieve happiness.



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