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Wrestling with Faith

Monday, 23 March, 2020 - 11:17 am

I wrestle with faith sometimes. Yes, that’s right. At times, I find it to be a struggle. Here’s the part I find hard:

Over the years, I have studied quite a lot of Torah’s teachings on faith, G-d, and our relationship with Him. Of course, I know it and believe it with utmost certainty. When challenge strikes, I work hard to take all that I have learned and know and create a bridge of connection between mind and heart. To let all that I know to be true flow through that bridge; wash over my heart with a sense of peace, calm, and ability to let go and let G-d take over the reins of the issue at hand.

But sometimes I feel a blockage in that bridge. I know my faith very deeply on an intellectual plane but it isn’t properly reaching the visceral in me. I feel myself struggling to really and truly internalize all that I know to be true. In Chassidic jargon, we refer to this internalization of knowledge as “Da’at” And sometimes I feel challenged by the “Da’at” dimension of my relationship with G-d.

Then I discovered a most powerful tool. One that has the power to encompass the world of intellectual ideas but with a language that the emotions of the heart can understand. THE POWER OF IMAGERY.

And one image in particular really stood out for me. Words I had been singing each Yom Kippur began to take on new meaning the more I thought about them. “Ki Hinei Kachomer B’yad Hayotzer” -We say to G-d: “As clay in the hands of the craftsman/potter, so too are we in Your hands”. I contemplated that image for a while. Oh, the power it contained!! There I was, a piece of clay, in the Hands of the Ultimate, Infinite, and All -Knowing Craftsman- G-d Himself. And G-d didn’t want me to return my soul to Him (after 120 years on this Earth G-d willing) looking like that same hunk of clay. Just like that potter, G-d has a vision for what that clay can become; the beautiful piece of pottery that can emerge. I may not see it, but He sure does. And as my life meanders through the blessedly beautiful times as well as through the challenging and the difficult, G-d is there, shaping, forming, and sculpting me into the beautiful piece of artwork I am intended to become.

Of course we have to do our part. (The metaphor isn’t perfect- We have freedom of choice- the clay does not). We need to make a vessel for G-d’s blessings through expending great effort into the physical and spiritual choices we make. Mitzvot and Prayer have the ability to open new channels of blessings. Consulting with a Rabbi/Rebbitzin/mentor is a great way to make sure we are doing our part.

But then, allow your body, your emotions, your mind to relax. Conjure up that image of the clay in the potter’s hand. Feel G-d shaping and fashioning you into just the person you are meant to be; revealing the inner beauty and light that lies waiting in potential within your soul.

And as you do so pray, pray hard. That G-d’s shaping and forming be in a way of REVEALED good; that you feel the love in each movement.

I am including a music video here, with the above- mentioned ideas, that has become a Cotlar favorite馃槉 My kids now ask me to play it for them when they are feeling like they need a boost. In fact I was recently talking to Rivkah about someone she knows well who is going through a difficult time and she suggested on her own that I send this video to that friend to uplift her. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do in our home.

Exercise for The Week:  Practicing Applying Faith in a way of Da’at

Step outside each night before getting ready for bed (weather permitting馃槉)

Pause. Let go of the maddening thoughts of the day. Empty your mind.

Look up at the stars. The vast expanse of sky. The universe around you.

G-d is above it all. Above time and space. 

Yet He chooses to be intimately involved in every last detail of Your life.

 He is orchestrating EVERY SINGLE thing in your life from the big to the most minute.

 He is the true Source for everything that occurs in your life.

Resolve to do all that you can to make a vessel for His blessings. In the physical arena as well as the spiritual -Mitzvot and Prayer have the ability to open new channels of blessings.

And then say the Shema, said each night before going to bed.

And finish off with these most powerful words (which I have included a recording of below)

讘旨职讬指讚职讱指, 讗址驻职拽执讬讚 专讜旨讞执讬 驻旨指讚执讬转指 讗讜止转执讬 讬职讛讜指讛--讗值诇 讗直诪侄转.


In Your hand I entrust my soul; You have redeemed me, O Hashem, G-d of truth.

You are entrusting Yourself to G-d. Rest assured. You are in the Best of Hands.

Layla Tov!

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