Turning Bitter to Sweet by Michael Winner/2/24/2022 I took my son yesterday to be tested at a yeshiva that we want him to go to next year. As he sat and learned with the Rosh Yeshiva, I went to the beis medresh to sit and learn while I waited. When I arrived, I asked the first boy I made eye-contact with, "Where can I find a Mishnah Breura and a quiet place to sit?" He smiled at the packed beis medresh and said, "I can't exactly help you with a 'quiet place.'" Another boy asked which volume and went to fetch it for me. I spoke to them for a few minutes about the yeshiva and as we were speaking, I kept getting this weird feeling. It took me a bit, but then I realized "This place is packed with 14-16 year-olds, and they are speaking to me as if I were an adult … wait a second … I AM an adult!!!!"It was a very scary feeling. Something I usually only get when doing taxes. I hope it doesn't happen too much.And yes, thank G-d, the Rosh Yeshiva was very pleased with him and accepted him on the spot. We have reason to believe and will continue to daven that this will be a very good place for him to grow.Okay, on to Torah.I'm on a roll with Rav Yaakov Meir Shechter ….Every person is given "his lot" in life. Each of us has different tests we must go through that others don't have to go through. The daily pains I go through are not the same that my neighbor has. By recognizing our "lackings," we can sometimes see what areas we need to work on and even what brachos we have that others don't.I forgot which sefer (I think Chovos Halalavos) that said some people are blessed with families and some are not. However, this "blessing" isn't necessarily a blessing. And those who have not been blessed with families are spared from the "blessings" of family.I'll give an example.My wife and I are one of the few people in the community with no family in Israel.It's not an easy thing. Especially since Israeli society, both religious and secular, are centered around the family. So, we haven't been "blessed" with this aspect. However, we know people who are constantly tied to their families. They have to go to this simcha and that simcha, to this city for Shabbos, to that city for Yom Tov. While people like my wife and I might look at it and be jealous, they in turn are jealous of us! Because we can stay where we are when we want, go where we want to go when we want. Their blessing is a blessing, but our "lack of blessing" is also a blessing.The goal, says Rav Shecter, is to take our "lack of blessings" (our lackings) and ask Hashem to at least "sweeten" them. By taking challenges in life, and making them a bit lighter, we can pass them easily. We can do this "sweetening" by recognizing our "lackings" as actual brachos (that's my idea, not his), or we can daven to Hashem that He Himself sweetens the challenges, so we can pass them in an easier manner.He brings proof from several parshos ago.When the Jewish nation was at Marah, they ran out of drinking water, and the only available water was too bitter to drink. "And Moshe cried to G-d, and G-d showed him a tree: he cast it into the waters, and the waters were made sweet. The Midrash says that Hashem taught Moshe how to pray, "Pray that the waters become sweet," He told him.The obvious question on this Midrash is: Did Moshe NOT know how to daven? Didn't he daven to end each of the plagues in Egypt?Rav Shechter answers that there are two methods to pray in such cases. One is to ask Hashem for a new source of water, one that wasn't bitter. That's what we generally do when we are in pain. We ask Hashem to bring something "new" into the picture to save us, be it medicine, financial help, etc. However, there is a second method: "Please Hashem, at least sweeten the bitterness of my situation." Instead of asking for an outside source of salvation, which might not be in Hashem's plan, we could ask Hashem to take some (or all) of the negativity and turn it into positivity.I'll give you an example of this.I was in contact with somebody on this list, whose name shall remain secret, since I don't have permission to use it. Actually, I can use her name, without giving away her secret identity. It's Shoshana Rivke bas Rus. She should get credit for this and we should continue to daven for her.Anyhow, unfortunately, she has been through quite a bit of physical suffering over the years. And recently, I learned from a family member of hers, that she was bored and decided to get a blood clot in one of her arteries and need an operation. I sent an email wishing a speedy recovery and asking how she's feeling. The response I received was more than positive. She wrote how amazed she was at how the smaller arteries around the heart started to take on the job of the clogged artery to help keep things going. She was amazed at the workings of Hashem's creations.What she has gone through over the years has been quite painful, but here she was able to take the positive out of it and grow with it.We're all "destined" to receive trouble in our lives. But we should always daven that they should not be too hard on us and that we should be able to see the good in each and every one of them.Have a wonderful Shabbos!