Thursday, July 26, 2012
Yesterday we mentioned testing. Today I thought I would give you more insight as to why we are tested and how one can pass life’s tests.
We have talked fairly extensively about how life’s learning experience is one of our main missions in our effort to perfect ourselves. Everything we do in life and everything that happens to us in this world is putting into practice the learning that we have achieved and demonstrating how well we are applying what we've learned. I've said many times that Hashem does not judge us by what we know, but how we grow. It says in Pirkei Avos, Hashem doesn't want us to just learn Torah; he wants us to live Torah. In order to gauge how well we have translated our learning into life, we are tested. As an example, I cannot put on stethoscope, walk into a hospital and say that I am a doctor. It takes many years of medical school, internship and practice to hone one’s skills properly. When you consider that every patient a doctor sees is a test to see how well the doctor is growing in his or her skills, we see the necessity for testing. Nobody would like to go to a doctor who was fresh out of school with about a 70% average and no experience. What confidence could you have in such a doctor? In life to say that we are good people doing the right thing can only happen when our growth is perfected through testing. When life’s experiences are performed because we've learned our lessons well from Hashem’s book of instructions, only then could we say that we have become a better person.
So what little tricks do we need to know to help us pass life's tests? First of all we need to be aware that Hashem only gives us tests that we can pass. We are not at the level of Avraham Avinu, our forefather Abraham, who was tested with ten trials and withstood them all. He demonstrated a high degree of love for Hashem with tests that are beyond the capabilities of most human beings. Why should such a tzadik need to go through such testing? Hashem provided Avraham with the growth that he would need to introduce Hashem to the world. Avraham was chosen to carry out one of the toughest missions ever given to a human being. But, Hashem knew in advance that he would be able to handle. Similarly, we see the testing that was necessary for Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and everyone else throughout history that would continue to bring the will of Hashem to fruition. Every test is by design – for us and for everyone who has ever lived on this earth. Hashem makes this world look random, by chance, coincidental, by accident and even appear to be by luck; but it is all an illusion, since everything is 100% by design.
With that said what are examples of testing and how do we pass.
I once worked for a Colonel in a government office that people always acknowledged that he liked me and my work. One day he gave me a hard time and started to chastise me for the most minor nothing (I don't even remember what it was). This animosity continued for a few days to the point where everyone around me asked “what happened to your good working relationship with the Colonel?” I started to get very frustrated and finally said I don't need this aggravation – I can get a good job elsewhere. Then I thought, wait a minute, Hashem is testing me – that is what is going on. Immediately, this Colonel was back to his old loving self even to the point where my fellow workers said "it looks like your back in the Colonel's good graces." It was such an immediate change that I knew without a doubt what had transpired. People you deal with are only agents of Hashem to carry out tests and help you reach Tikun. When you acknowledge that fact and thank Hashem for the help, you may find a difficult person that you are dealing with, becomes more docile. Try it and realize that everything is from Hashem even your interaction with other people. Please, don’t do this with a negative attitude such as “I’ll try it but I don’t think it is going to work (you just made sure it will fail). The most important part of passing this type of test is turning completely to Hashem for help with complete confidence. An important Torah lesson is that everything is from Hashem and he is the only one that can help us out of any difficult situation.
Every tzadik is faced with the most difficult tests. Chazal say that the higher one's level, the more challenging the testing could be since Hashem will give this person the opportunity to climb even higher (that is what happened to Avraham as mentioned above). There is no tzadik that exists that wasn't tempted and didn't face sin head to head. We think that because they are righteous they were never normal human beings, just like us, facing the simple temptations that we do. Yosef HaTzadik covered his face and ran away from Potifar's wife. Here is an example of passing the test by running away from it. The person who says I can control my desires completely and not give in to temptation, will fail the test. It is not within the human psyche to stand up to temptation and succeed. The best way to handle temptation is to avoid it and run from it. That is how Yosef pass the test and that is how we must also react. This sometimes applies to the example I gave above. Dealing with a very difficult person is sometimes solved by going away from that person. Obviously, a casual acquaintance is much easier to avoid than a difficult boss, but that is where we must figure out exactly what the test is that Hashem is giving us and work accordingly.
Another very important point to be made is “Don’t ask to be tested.” King David asked Hashem to test him. Hashem answered him that he would not be able to stand in the test. Later he was given the test of Bat Sheva, which apparently he failed. In truth, he could have stood in it, but since Hashem had already told him that he would not, he failed deliberately in order to prove Hashem right. In other words Hashem sees us asking for tests as a display of arrogance. He will make sure that we do not pass that test. We even say in prayer every morning "Do not cause us to be tested or brought to disgrace."
To summarize, we can see that testing, like mitzvot, are tools for our growth to help us reach Tikun. If our study of Torah is done properly, life's activities will be done more correctly and required less severe testing. We may receive testing to bring us to an even higher spiritual level (as mentioned above with tzadikim), but with more Torah we are aware of reality and aware that the testing is for our good and for our growth. I said many times the “too late date” is coming up on us rapidly; after that, the testing will end. We don't want testing; but, when it happens, which is every day, we want to pass the test. This will come with the study of Torah in the same way that a doctor can be more professional by learning from each patient and performing by capitalizing from his or her experiences.
This didn't cover every type of test; but, should let you know that if you approach every test knowing from Whom it came, and what the purpose is, the Torah answer will be the right answer. It's our lives; it's our eternal future -- let's make the best of it.
Posted by The Absolute Truth at 11:11 AM