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Overcoming Life’s Challenges

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Mendel Gordon
MyLife Essay Contest 2016

 

Everybody has “ups and downs”in life. The “ups” are when things are going just the way we think they should be. The “downs” are when we get all sorts of problems and  things look like they are not going so good.  In this essay, I will try to show how to solve these problems through using the concept in Chasidus of “Being Yesh L’yesh Yesh Ayin B’emtza”, between one reality and another there is a gap of non-reality. To learn how one can get through and get past these “downs” in life, not getting depressed or weakened by them, and stay in the “ups”, thereby maintaining a joyful and successful life.

Everyone has the time (or times) that everything is perfect. And everybody has the time in their life that it seems as if everything is spiraling out of control. Be the person a child, who is finally allowed to go to the toy store, only to find out that he can’t buy the toy he wants. A teen, which got good grades and was popular throughout high school, but was not accepted to the college her friends were accepted to.  Or an adult, who graduated medical school but can’t find a job as a doctor.  Not so good things happen, and it seems as if there is no way out of it. That life as the person knew it is over. Through the above mentioned concept in Chasidus, we can see a unique way to deal with this issue. To overcome the “downs” and stay in the “ups”, thereby defeating problems such as depression and laziness.

Before* the creation of the world, there was nothing physical. There was just G-D in his essence-Atzmus. Atzmus is the first Yesh-reality/existence. Atzmus had a desire to create the world, with all the animals, plants and specifically people so that He can have a dwelling place amongst physical creatures. The world is the second Yesh. But Atzmus couldn’t create the world directly. Why? Because Atzmus is too high and holy to create something as low as the world. So Atzmus made a level between itself and the world. This level is great enough and spiritual enough to connect with Atzmus, and at the same time low and physical enough to connect with this world. This level is called Ayin-nothing. And there are two levels of this Ayin. One is the way the Ayin relates to Atzmus, where it is truly ayin-nothing, because Atzmus is so great that nothing can truly compare to it. But this Ayin is only one step down from Atzmus. It is still too spiritual and infinite** to create to the world. But, it is low enough to relate to the second level of Ayin.  The second level is the way Ayin is then able to relate directly to the world, where it is called Ayin not because it is truly nothing, rather because the world cannot grasp it. Even though it’s not completely removed from the world (like Atzmus is) it is still much greater than the world. Therefor it is called Ayin-nothing, as if the world says “I don’t really know what you are so I will just call you nothing.” And through this connecting level(s) of Ayin Atzmus is able to create the world.

A little abstract? Let’s give an example from a candle with fire. There are a few components to the candle and fire. 1-The actual candle, a lump of wax with a piece of thread down the middle for a wick. When you light the candle, you add three more components. 2- The charcoal at the end of the wick where the fire is burning off of. This is no longer thread, and it’s really not much at all, being that all you have to do to make it crumble is give it a little touch. 3- A small empty space between the charcoal and the flame. This space is neither charcoal nor fire. It’s just empty space. 4- The flame.

This can help us understand what’s happening here with the Yesh-Ayin-Ayin-Yesh situation. The candle is Yesh #1, Atzmus. It wants to make a flame- the world. But it can’t turn directly into a flame. It must first turn into charcoal, a level of nothing that is still more connected to the wick and not yet ready to connect to the flame- Ayin #1, the Ayin of Atzmus. Then there must be a second level of nothing, one that can connect to the actual flame- Ayin #2, the Ayin of world. Only then can there be the actual flame- Yesh #2, the world.

(A more modern example, and one that happened to me and I’m sure many others, is from cell phones. We start off with a cell phone. Then the phone falls into a pool, is sat on, or any other of the creative ways our generation knows of how to break technology. After a bit of procrastinating you get a new phone. Here too we have a Yesh-Ayin-Ayin-Yesh situation. The first phone is Yesh #1. The phone breaking is Ayin #1, a direct result of the first Yesh. Us procrastinating until we arrange a new phone is Ayin #2. It’s not really connected to the first

Yesh, rather related more to us, the “creations”. The second phone is Yesh #2.)

Now that we understand this concept, we can show how it helps us overcome the “ups and downs” struggles in our lives. People start off in the “Yesh”, where there is “existence”. Existence representing a sense of fulfillment, accomplishment, and contentment. Things are working out, and we’re happy with the way they are. But then something goes wrong and everything looks like it’s failing. This is the Ayin that we go through. And chasidus dosnt tell us that the Ayin isn’t there. Chasidus tells us that there are two types of Ayin. One that is related to the first Yesh, this means that it is truly an issue that is occurring because of the lack of Yesh. But that’s all that it is: Ayin-nothing, which is just a lack of Yesh-something.  It’s not a bad thing. It’s just that the good thing stopped happening. So now we have to work to bring back the good thing. But then there is a second level of Ayin. The second level of Ayin is not related to the first Yesh anymore. It’s not related to the problem that we have. Rather it’s an Ayin that’s connected to the “creations”, something that we create. This means the human tendency to wallow in depression and make things worse than they really are. True, there was a level of Ayin, when things didn’t work out. But it’s not really as bad as we make it. We make it worse than it seems by focusing on negativity. This is the second Ayin which is related to the “creations”, or us.

So here we see two exercises that Chasidus provides to get through the “downs”, or Ayin. 1- Realize that it’s just a lack of good. It’s not that something actually bad happened. It’s just that the good thing stopped happening. For example when someone loses their job, it’s not that now there’s a new existence of bad. It’s just that there is a lack of previous good, and it must be restored. So you’re not fighting to try to destroy something bad. You’re just trying to create something good, and even more than that, something that was already there before hand. This is the exercise based on the 1st Ayin. 2- Even this lack of good is not as bad as it seems. We make it seem worse than it is.  When we start going deeper and deeper into worst case scenarios and being pessimistic we have to “catch” ourselves and remember that we have to deal with the “ayin” that their already is, and not create more of it. This is the excercise based on the second Ayin.

Now let’s discuss what the second Yesh can show us to help us overcome the downs. In the concept, the second Yesh is the ultimate purpose. Atzmus didn’t want to create Ayins. It wanted to create a world, the second Yesh. In order to get there it had to go through an Ayin. Only after the Ayin can Atzmus get its true desire, to have the world. This shows us something very powerful in our life, in the ups and downs. The downs (Ayins) are not really downs. They are just a way to achieve the ultimate, even greater level of Yesh! So when we are going through an Ayin, we can’t sit back and give up to it. We have to realize that the Ayin in and of itself is pointless! If we don’t come to a greater state of Yesh after the Ayin than the state of Yesh we were in before the Ayin, we wasted our time! So instead of giving up to the downs, let’s get up and do something that will help bring about the second, greater level of yesh. Ayyy, the Ayin is very difficult…; Know two things: 1- That the whole point of the Ayin is to bring us to the next Yesh, so despite the difficulties, this is where the Ayin is ultimately leading too. 2- Because*** the whole point of the Ayin is to bring to the second Yesh, the Ayin doesn’t even have the ability to truly take us down. That’s not in its job description! It’s job is to take us higher, and that’s all that it can really do! With this in mind, the challenge takes on a whole new and more positive and optimistic light. Through using these exercises offered by Chasidus, we can go through all of life’s challenges while maintaining a joyous and peaceful state of being.

So now, when faced with a challenge, don’t give up and get depressed. Realize that this is just Hashems way of taking you to an even greater level. So get up, get happy, break out of the Ayin and dive into the greater Yesh!!

 

 

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 *ת״ר נר חנוכה תרמ״ד

**אני לדודי תרס״ט

***מים רבים תשל״ח

Does Judaism have the answers to my personal dilemmas?

MyLife: Chassidus Applied

Watch classes and read articles that demonstrate how the Rebbeim provided us with a comprehensive blueprint of the human psyche.

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