By Dr. Zev Ballen
How are you?
It's a seemingly innocent question:
People are always asking: "So How's life?"; How's it going, man? What's new bro?
Is it just a polite greeting? If so, why are they so incessant to know?:
"Really...how are you?...Truthfully...how's it going?"
I don't mean to sound cynical. Of course they're being polite; but what are they so curious about? What do people really want to know?
Don't they know how hard life is? Do they really think that life is so much different for you? What are they expecting you to say?: "Oh, my life is absolute paradise!; it's Heaven on earth!"
If your life is paradise on earth, I'm happy for you - mine isn't.
I'm still in daily pain.
I suffer and I see others suffering all around me.
I'm being constantly beset by tests and challenges.
If you're not, will you tell me your secret?
Is that what people are hoping to hear?
Before Adam sinned, his situation was far better than ours today. There was much less evil in the world. Whatever evil there was created by G-d - not man - and was perfectly balanced and equal to the good in the world.
In Adam's world, it was relatively easy to conquer evil and earn everlasting bliss.
But Adam failed - and in a way - Hashem wanted him to.
When Adam, himself, brought evil into the world, he upset the perfect balance of good and evil which G-d intended for the world. By rebelling against G-d, Adam brought terrible suffering into the world.
We were born into the suffering of a world that is far darker and more painful than G-d "originally" intended it to be. Yes, we can still attain perfection and earn our eternal bliss - but it's not going to be easy. In order to achieve it, we're going to need to suffer much more than we were originally supposed to.
What kind of justice is this? Did any of us choose this life? Did our perfected souls ask to be brought into the violence and decadence around us? Why should we be punished for Adam's sin?
Did G-d "change his mind" after Adam's sin? How can we trust that G-d will keep his promises to us? How can we continue to believe in Him?
One needs enormous Faith to not question the need for our suffering and to simply believe, as our Rabbi's tell us, that every bit of pain that we endure enables us to achieve much more than even Adam could have achieved.
Rav Arush says that a person who waits Hashem out can even put an end to his tests.
For example, when Rav Arush moved into his present home in Beit Yisrael many years ago, he barely had bread to feed to his children before sending them to school. They had nothing but the four walls. The only thing he says they had a lot of were rats.
When Rav Arush saw that every window in his house had a cross on it he smashed every one of those windows and the family froze for a whole winter without windows. The Rav encouraged his family to thank Hashem for this test. He told them that if they would pass this one test, that they would never again have to worry about money.
It is not natural for me to thank Hashem for my hardships, but I try because Rav Arush tells me that by bending my nature to act illogically when I think my life is threatened and to thank Hashem for the pain, that Hashem will in turn, relate to with me in a un-natural (supernatural way) way - and He does.
When I have the humility to see the Blessings that Hashem is sending me I can feel happy even in the midst of a trial.
No, my life isn't paradise on earth - but...continue here...
May you and your loved ones be inscribed and sealed in the Good Book of Life!
Dr. Zev Ballen