July 25, 2024
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Highlighting: “Living Emunah for Teens 3” By Rabbi David Ashear. Mesorah Publications Ltd 2024. Hardcover. 300 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1422640289

(Courtesy of Artscroll) Imagine the three-day hike that Avraham Avinu took with Yitzchak, heading to the Akeidah. Step by step, Avraham was coming closer to the death of his son, a tzaddik, for whom he had waited so long and raised with so much love and care. Avraham knew this was what Hashem had commanded him to do, and therefore, he accepted it. But that doesn’t mean it was anything but excruciatingly hard for him.

What good did that hardship do? It created one of the greatest merits in all of Jewish history. For thousands of years, every Rosh Hashanah, Hashem remembers Avraham’s challenge and, so to speak, gets up from His Throne of Judgment and sits on His Throne of Mercy. Millions and millions of Avraham’s children are benefiting from the challenge he accepted on himself.

David HaMelech faced a lifetime of family discord, betrayals and wars. Why couldn’t Hashem just let him reign in peace? It was because the intense pressure on David pushed him closer and closer to Hashem. From those experiences came Sefer Tehillim, songs to Hashem. For the rest of history, the Jewish people have sung those songs to give us courage when we need it, and express our gratitude when blessings come our way.

So many of the chapters of Tehillim describe situations we would consider to be terrible, and yet every one of those chapters expresses David’s trust and reliance on Hashem. We could never say, “Sure he had emunah. He was a king! He had everything he wanted!” It was precisely because of his troubles that he reached great heights and was able to write the words that still comfort us today.

We see from Avraham and so many other stories of our Avos and gedolim that no one goes through life without tests and troubles. The factor that turns these difficulties into merit and blessing is our reaction.

Most people’s first instinct is to complain. But when we move past that first instinct and accept the situation as Hashem’s will, the challenge becomes “Kodesh Kodashim.” It becomes a place in time where we are surrounded by the Shechinah, standing right in Hashem’s Presence, just as the Kohen Gadol was when he entered the Kodesh HaKodashim on Yom Kippur.

This perspective doesn’t pop into our minds on its own. It comes from a decision we make to use our challenge to elevate ourselves rather than letting it bring us down. Doing this, turns hardship into a precious form of avodas Hashem.

Let’s consider how we would think if, instead of spiritual treasure, a person were in a position to gain millions of dollars. Every time he accepted a difficult situation in his life with emunah, the direct deposit would be in his account the next day. Imagine how angry he would be at himself if he allowed negativity to take control of his thinking. Somewhere along the line, he would realize, “My negative attitude is not making the situation any better, and worse yet, I’VE LOST MILLIONS!”

Life brings us one situation after another. Each of them is a one-time opportunity to climb to a new height. Nobody asks for these challenges, but once they come, why waste the chance to grow from them?

Make It Real: Take one situation you have in your life right now that you find troubling and think about it. What is one small change you can make in your perspective that might help turn the problem into an opportunity to grow?


Reprinted from “Living Emunah for Teens 3” by Rabbi David Ashear, with permission from the copyright holder, ArtScroll Mesorah Publications.

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