Tag Archives: faith

The Tainted Grain

20 Apr

There is a Rebbe Nachman story that has come to my mind many times in the past few years. This year, looking at the Pesach madness and feeling myself both drawn towards it and repelled by it at the same time, I think again about this story. It goes as follows:

The king’s star gazer saw that the grain harvested that year was tainted. Anyone who would eat from it would became insane. “What can we do?” said the king. “It is not possible to destroy the crop for we do not have enough grain stored to feed the entire population.”

“Perhaps,” said the star gazer, “we should set aside enough grain for ourselves. At least that way we could maintain our sanity.” The king replied, “If we do that, we’ll be considered crazy. If everyone behaves one way and we behave differently, we’ll be considered the not normal ones.

“Rather,” said the king, “I suggest that we too eat from the crop, like everyone else. However, to remind ourselves that we are not normal, we will make a mark on our foreheads. Even if we are insane, whenever we look at each other, we will remember that we are insane!”

We are limited by this world. We see our reality through the spectacles of time, place, emotion and the limitations of these concepts. We long for things we know will bring us no true happiness and satisfaction, we fear what we should embrace (death) and embrace what we should fear (disconnection from God). We are really part of this madness in some way or another and we’re helpless. We see the linear rather than the infinite and we constantly blind ourselves to God’s constant presence and messages. This crazy world is our madness that we will be afflicted with until the day we die.

Is there anything we can do to prevent the affliction? Not much. But those stickers on our brow, the reminder of what we once lost and what we ought to have may serve to gently prod us into questioning the reality we live in.

Yes, we’re mad too, in our own way. But at least we know it.




The Cave and the Light

18 Aug

I spent a beautiful shabbat biking with my husband during which he invited me to go explore a local cave (a sort of secret spot that the water-hole seekers don’t know about). I’ve been there before – it’s a water source; deliciously cool and you wade through water just above your ankles. There are two problems with the cave for me; firstly it’s DARK (no, we didn’t have flashlights) and secondly you have to CRAWL to get to the water source. Crawling on rocks in the dark is not my favourite occupation. I was visiting the cave for the second time so I kind of knew what to expect but this time my husband wanted to explore further – go to the other end of the cave. Don’t worry, he reassured me, the cave lead to another exit. The problem was I couldn’t see anything, nothing. God knows what a control freak I am deep down inside. I may be happy-go-lucky and easy going on the outside, but deep down, I like CONTROL. Being in complete darkness is the complete opposite. My husband proceeded ahead but I sensed he was moving downwards into a tight space. I refused to follow, he insisted, we argued, he won. I used my other senses to feel the cave around me and within a few minutes I could see the light of the other exit of the cave.

A strange thing happened when I turned around; all of a sudden I could see. I could see the light coming from the side I’d come from. How was it that before there was complete blackness? How come before I’d been so frightened?

We live in a world of darkness. We need patience and courage to overcome our blindness, adjust our eyes to a new reality until we can finally see the world around us. We have to LET the light come in and be patient about it.

Our worst enemy is fear. What would have stopped me proceeding to the other end of the tunnel had my husband not convinced me was fear, that gut-wrenching, immobilizing terror that stops us from getting close to God and to what He wants.

Last night a friend gave me some very unfortunate news – her daughter was in a situation that could have been prevented. I think my tunnel experience was very connected to this. This girl’s mother was so frightened that she turned away from the light and denied what was before her eyes but in the end created something worse than what she was trying to avoid. She didn’t give her eyes a chance to adjust. She blinkered herself and thus damaged her daughter.

I pray that God will always allow me to distinguish between light and darkness, between what is imaginary and what is real.