Yud Shvat; Advice to Single Women; Women & Micromanagement; Is There a Limit to Kindness? Boundaries with Friends; Bittul Torah; Ayin Hora
MyLife: Chassidus Applied Episode 99, with Rabbi Simon Jacobson
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What is the meaning and relevance of Yud Shevat to our personal lives? How does a chossid prepare for this auspicious day?
The Rebbe speaks much about the special role and responsibility of women in our generation (especially underscored this week when we read in the Shabbos Shira Haftorah the song of a woman – the song of Devorah). But what specifically is the mission of single women following school and pre-marriage? Besides dating, which does not occupy full time, what should the shlichus of a young woman be? Is it only about waiting around to get married?
“As an older single woman, I feel like my life is perpetually on hold while waiting to get married, and I don’t know how to break out of that. I started dating shortly after seminary, and am now considered ‘older’. I went to college, got a degree, have been working full time while in school, but now I feel aimless, no real idea what to do with my life. All the while, I feel like at any minute now the right guy will walk through the door, so I can’t settle down or commit to anything long term because who knows what will happen. I hate that no one really prepared me for life after seminary, and the possibility that we would not all be married by age 20. What can you suggest for how to get through this difficult time, while still believing that I may actually get married someday?”
Additional questions that will be addressed in this week’s 99th episode of My Life: Chassidus Applied include whether we can apply the idea of women having extra binah to their micromanaging abilities, and if this can also take on a negative form of obsession with details, as in “why did you do it this way and not that way”?
Is an Ayin Hora real or imagined? Can we realistically expect people to not waste one moment of the day in bittul Torah?
Is there a limit to showing kindness to another? I have a friend who I feel is using me. Is there such a thing as too much? Is the mitzva of גמ”ח something that has a shiur and is considered “done” when a reasonable amount of time is offered to a friend, or is the mitzva really to give all that is necessary? I feel sometimes like I’m being a therapist on call and beginning to resent it. I feel that if I’d know that this is the right thing to do I will find new strengths to do it.
Rabbi Jacobson will also review the following essays submitted in last year’s MyLife: Chassidus Applied essay contest: “Making your Time Valuable” by Nachum Rabinovitz, “Coping with Anxiety” by Yisroel Assouline, “Beyond Empathy” by Yitzchok Kaufmann. These and other essays can be read online at meaningfullife.com/essays.
And finally, the Chassidus question of the week – related to Parting of the Sea in this week’s Torah portion:
In the second chapter of Shaar Yichud Vuemuna the Alter Rebbe uses the Parting of the Sea (Kriyas Yam Suf) as an example to understand the ongoing process of creation:
Creation “is an even greater miracle than, for example, the splitting of the Red Sea. For then, G‑d drove back the sea by a strong east wind all the night and the waters were divided and stood upright as a wall. If G‑d had stopped the wind, the waters would have instantly flowed downward, as is their way and nature, and undoubtedly they would not have stood upright as a wall, even though this nature of water [to flow downward] is also created ex nihilo, for a stone wall stands erect by itself without [the assistance of] the wind, but the nature of water is not so. [Thus, if for the miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea the continuous action of G‑d was necessary] how much more so is it in the creation of being out of nothing which transcends nature and is far more miraculous than the splitting of the Red Sea, that with the withdrawal of the power of the Creator from the thing created, G‑d forbid, it would revert to naught and complete non-existence. Rather, the Activating Force of the Creator must continuously be in the thing created to give it life and existence.
The Rebbe explains this comparison at length, saying that parting the Sea was essentially not a new creation (ex nihilo), but a change of yesh miyesh: one existent state (the fluidity of water) was merely replaced by another existent state (its ability to remain upright). Nevertheless, since the ability of water to stand rock-like is something novel, the force that is responsible for this novelty — even though this novelty involves no more than a progression from one yesh to another — must constantly cause it to come about. Surely, then, the Alter Rebbe concludes, with regard to the creation of the world, which comes into being absolutely ex nihilo, the activating force of the Creator must continuously be present in the created universe, providing it with life and existence.
My limited understandings find this explanation very hard to grasp. How can creation from nothing (yesh m’ayin), after all, be derived as a kol sh’kein v’kal v’chomer from a change of one state to another (yesh miyesh)? On the contrary, if parting the sea was a change from yesh to yesh, than it shouldn’t have needed a strong east wind all the night, it should’ve just remained in its “changed” form. And if it wasn’t a “change” in the first place, rather more like a tree bending in the wind, than it has nothing to do with this whole concept of the chapter.
I hope I was clear. Maybe you can help your listeners with a clear understanding of the Alter Rebbes intention. It seems interesting that something so fundamental in the puzzle of the second section of Tanya should be so vague.
I would humbly suggest that the Alter Rebbe meant that KYS was a change m’ayin l’yesh, because the new mentality of the water was not a changed version of the old one rather a new nature so to speak, and then the kal v’chomer makes more sense, and even though some of the wording isn’t so on target, it can be explained (although I won’t go into it here).
What does remain somewhat unclear, regardless of the actual interpretation of the above, is that according to the Alter Rebbe why did Moshe have to do something to have the waters return to their original state, when all Hashem “had to do” was stop the wind?
And while I’m at it let me add one more question: According to the whole idea in Tanya, the entire creation is constantly being sustained up by a dvar Hashem. So why is the parting sea unique, that it required a wind to part the waters? Why couldn’t the word of Hashem (commanding the sea to split) be enough to do the job? Why all of the sudden was a wind needed. Is a wind needed to keep the world spinning? The dvar Hashem seems to be a great job with everything else. Please elaborate.
This hour-long dose of insights is meant to inform, inspire and empower us by applying the teachings of Chassidus to help us face practical and emotional challenges and difficulties in our personal lives and relationships. To have your question addressed, please submit it at www.appliedchassidus.com.
The topics in this Sunday’s hour-long broadcast will include:
Chassidus Applied to Yud Shvat
What is the shlichus of a single woman?
Women, binah and micromanaging
Is my friend taking advantage of me?
Do we believe in Ayin Hora?
Is avoiding bittul Torah an impossible standard?
Chassidus Question: How to understand Tanya’s example of the parting sea to explain perpetual creation
Essays: Making your time valuable, Coping with anxiety, Beyond empathy
MyLife: Chassidus Applied addresses questions that many people are afraid to ask and others are afraid to answer. When asked about the sensitive topics he has been addressing, Rabbi Simon Jacobson commented, “I understand that the stakes are high and great care has to be taken when speaking openly, but the silence and lack of clarity on matters plaguing the community can no longer go unaddressed. The stakes of not providing answers are even higher.”
The on-going series has provoked a significant reaction from the community, with thousands of people viewing each live broadcast and hundreds of questions pouring in week after week. At the root of every question and personal challenge tackled by the series is the overarching question: Does Judaism have the answers to my personal dilemmas?
In inimitable “Jacobson-fashion”, the broadcast answers people’s questions in simple, clear language while being heavily sourced. Each episode is jam-packed with eye-opening advice from the Rebbeim, gleaned from uncovering surprising gems in their letters, sichos and maamorim that address our personal issues with disarming relevance. Simultaneously, Rabbi Jacobson is able to crystallize a concept quickly, succinctly, and poignantly for any level of listener.
All episodes are immediately available for viewing in the MLC’s archive and can be downloaded as MP3’s for listening on the go.
Questions may be submitted anonymously at chassidusapplied.com.