Rachel Shifra Tal
When we struggle
As King Solomon said, “A righteous person falls seven times and gets up” (Proverbs, 24:16).
7 is not an actual number. 7 just means many.
All we do is get blown over by life. Life hits us from all angles all the time. It never stops, until you die.
Sounds morbid. But honestly, would we have it any other way? We are not here in life to be comfortable, contrary to secular beliefs. In fact some of the beliefs out there are just that! Getting comfortable IS the goal! It is unattainable and dangerous actually, it also I believe sets one up for a life of dissatisfaction.
Go to school, get an amazing degree, so you can make enough money and be comfortable...
Get a house...so you can be comfortable.
Yes, a house and a degree are fantastic things to want and strive for, but not so we can put our feet up and be comfortable!
Growth is the opposite of comfortable. Judaism teaches that to grow one must step outside their comfort zone and to do that, we need to fall, fail and sometimes struggle.
The amount of times in my life that I have fallen flat on my face are waaaay beyond 7 times! Stepping out into the world and putting yourself out there, it hurts! Its painful, you get rejected and ow, just ow!
Love, is another super painful track.
Our basic need as humans is to be accepted and deeply loved. We live for it! But to love, it means we must open our hearts to loss. To heartbreak and challenges, to fail and then.....to get up. Over and over. We need to get up.
So how? We agree to live is to be open to total and complete failure and to grow will come with pain.
So how do we get up?
Excellent question. I don't have the chutzpah to say I have any idea! But the Torah does! Everything is in that guidebook for life.
Let's dive in.
The Talmud however, wisely enjoins us to remember that "If one says to you: I have struggled mightily and I have not prevailed, do not believe him" (Megillah 6b).
As my friend says, about the statement above, 'if you don't have a happy ending, it is because you are not at the end of the story!'.
This statement above is very packed with wisdom. In fact what does the Torah describe a wise person as? A Talmid Chacham which literally means a student of wisdom.
To become wise according to the Torah is to literally be a student of life. To learn all the time.
This is the key to getting up. Learn. To be able to learn however, we must shove our ego aside. That inner voice that says, we should know better, finds all the rules to protect us from failure and loss. But that IS learning! If we knew everything, life would be almost meaningless!
This world isn't finished. Neither are we. We are here to learn, try, fail then get up again....
Challenges are not neccesarily punishments, they are opportunities. Every day, if we are open (which takes tremendous bravery and vulnerability) tremendous opportunities are before us.
Any athlete will readily tell you, that age old slogan. No pain, no gain.
We are taught as a society to insulate ourselves from pain and discomfort. Yet, embracing the struggle, that heartbreak....therein lies the key to greatness.
Comfort is crucial, don't get me wrong, but it is an enjoyable and wonderful part of life, yet not the goal. Growth is.
The Torah is called and Eitz Chaim, a Tree of life. A tree never stops deepening its roots and reaching for the sky and growing!
I bless us all to not kick ourselves when we go down....to grieve and feel in the fall, then to rise up.