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Worries in all its facets

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Rabbi Yossi Chaikin

Oxford Synagogue

“Why the incessant worrying?” asked the Rebbe, “Pray to Hashem, and he will send you sustenance.”

“But Rebbe,” said the Chassid, “I don’t really know how to pray properly to G-d!

“This,” said the Rebbe, “is really a cause for serious worry and concern.”

We are all familiar with the famous words of Ethics of our Fathers: “Who is wealthy? He who is satisfied with his lot.” (Avot 2,1).

Many of us are great believers in the adage that we must be happy with our current situation, but misinterpret this Mishnah to refer to matters spiritual. Indeed, we tend to be very happy with our levels of religious observance and practice.

We think we are learning enough Torah, doing sufficient mitzvot. We are content to remain where we are and resist being pushed outside our comfort zone.

However, we fail to apply this principle to material wealth. When it comes to amassing physical possessions, we adhere to the adage of the Midrash: “He who has 100, desires 200 but he who has 200, wishes to have 400.” We are never satisfied with the blessings Hashem has sent our way.

In truth, as the Kotzker Rebbe was saying, how much time do we spend worrying about our spirit, our neshomas, our relationship with our Creator? On the other hand, how much energy is devoted to the pursuit of the physical?

There is an old Chassidic teaching that helps us redress the imbalance. When it comes to the material, find someone who has less than you, then look down at this individual with a sense of gratitude for what you have and a feeling of being truly blessed.

In matters of spirit and of religion, find a person who is ahead of you and constantly look up with longing and envy, as you strive to catch up.

“What will we eat?” is a genuine and legitimate question. But in the next verse Hashem gives us the answer: “I will send My blessing.” An even more legitimate question is: “Do I know how to tap into that blessing and bring it down upon me?”

 

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