Tazria: Dealing with Pain

I realized the other day that I never sat down and read to my youngest (soon to be 7) son.  I did with the older kids, but the middle son wasn't interested in being read to, so... the idea never came back into my head until now.

So, each day this week, we sat down and I read him a differnt story from a series of kids books we have written on the first books of Naviim (Prophets).  It's in English, so I have to change around the language a little bit so he'll understand.  But it's something he (and I) is really enjoying.  It takes what?  Seven minutes?  I'm getting a great return on such an "investement".

Something we need to always remember when raising kids.

I saw another gem from Rav Yaakov Meir Shechter I thought I would share.

When a person suffers trials in life, Rav Nachman of Breslov offers advice on how to approach the situation.

How so?  The first part is to actually acknowledge that you are having problems.  It could be with health, finances, with your spouse, children, friends, etc.  G-d forbid a person should have such issues, but if they do, they need to actually acknowledge that they are in pain.  I've seen this many times, certainly among baalei tshuvah, and most certainly among women baalei tshuvah, who think that by somehow acknowledging pain in life, they are lacking in faith in Hashem.  Rav Schechter says that this attitude is not only wrong, but dangerous.

"The first thing to do is acknowledge the truth of the situation as it is.  The situation is bad, the pain is real, and it is perfectly natural to be upset.  You should never try to convince yourself that a bad situation is good.  Absolutely not!  These thoughts are false, and G-d hates falsehood.  Admit the truth, for this is the reality.  And if the truth causes you pain, that is because 'whoever increases knowledge increases sorrow' (Koheles 1:18).  A person who denies the truth, who calls bad good and bitter sweet, who tries to be happy by claiming darkness is light and light darkness is fleeing from reality and choosing a false joy.  He is living in a world of fantasy."

During such times that we are in pain, we need to acknowledge that there is little for us to do.  When we realize that this pain, and also our salvation, comes from Hashem, that realization comes to calm us a little and ease our pain.

The second thing is to use the situation for growth.  Sometimes, we are put in painful situations to rectify a wrong that we have done.  And for that, we need to accept what we have received as such.  We must live through this punishment, knowing that these "fires of hell" are removing impurities from our soul.

Sometimes, however, these painful situations are to move us to another level.  In times of peace, we are able to use certain natural talents.  However, sometimes there are hidden talents that lie dormant, that we are only aware of during "times of war."  Sometimes a person's true greatness can only be revealed when he is under pressure and stress.

When we experience such times, it is good to try to take a "time-out" to sit and ponder our situation.  Perhaps this particular situation is coming upon me for a specific reason?  Perhaps it is to push me in a certain direction which I would not have thought of beforehand?  What aspects of my personality is this touching?  Do they need improvement?  Do they need redirection?

What's important is to realize that nothing comes upon us just randomly.  Even throughout painful times, Hashem is with us and is guiding us for the better.  And sometimes, if we look carefully, we can see which direction He wants us to go.

With that, I wish you a wonderful Shabbos!