By: Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui
The Talmud teaches, “A person is obligated to bless and acknowledge G-d over the bad and misfortune just as he blesses and praises G-d over the good.” In the same way that a person accepts and receives the good in his life with open and manifest joy, a person should accept those things that appear negative and undesirable with a positive and grateful attitude, because in truth it really is for the good.
The Talmud says a story of a person by the name of Nochum who was chosen to represent the community in Israel before the Emperor in Rome. Nochum was given a chest of gold and diamonds to impress the Emperor. Little did Nochum know that overnight in the inn, the valuable content was stolen and exchanged for earth and stones.
Not realizing what happened; when Nochum presented the gift to the Emperor his highness was furious at the insult and ordered Nochum to jail. Nochums’ response was to say and truly believe in his heart, “all that G-d does is for the good”.
In the end it turned out that this earth and stones were endowed with a special quality that the Emperor was able to use against his enemies, and the people in Israel were greatly rewarded.
How is it possible to truly believe everything is for the good when on the face of it things are dark and bleak?
Once a student came to his Rabbi and asked for advice how to handle all the hardships he had in life. This Rabbi advised his student to go to Reb Zushe for guidance. Reb Zushe was a person with every reason to complain. His health was not the best, neither were his affairs at home or his financial situation. When this student showed up at the door of Reb Zushe for advice he was told by Reb Zushe to go to someone who truly had problems and could advise him how to cope.
In the world of Reb Zushe, he had no problems.
It is precisely this quality we attribute to Abraham and Sarah. The Bible says, “All the years of Sarah were equally good.” However we know that for 90 years Sarah was barren. She travelled with her husband to Israel thinking all would be well and ended up in a land where there was a famine. Forced to go to Egypt she was abducted by the king and many other similar experiences which appeared as hardships for Sarah. How can all her years be equally good?
The answer is, they were all equally good. As a righteous and G-dly woman Sarah accepted everything that transpired in her life with open arms and in love as coming from G-d. Sarah understood that even down to the minutest detail everything is directed and influenced by G-d and because G-d is by nature kind and good, everything in truth must be, for the good, all the time.
When a person develops and cultivates an awareness and continual mindfulness that G-d is always right here, within me and the reason for everything that is happening, the obvious conclusion and outcome is a complete acceptance and comfort with what is.
Abraham, was blessed with the virtue of always being satisfied with what he had and never felt he was lacking or dealt with an unjustified hand. Abraham knew and felt in his heart G-d who is perfect always does the best for each individual and therefore there is never anything to complain about.
Mysticism explains that this attitude to see everything in a positive perspective because G-d is the cause of everything, has the power to actually transform an otherwise difficulty situation into an actual positive and happy situation. “And those who put their trust in G-d, kindness (always) surrounds them.”
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