I think most people agree that people shouldn’t air their dirty laundry in public, nor should they broadcast their personal issues to everyone they meet on the street. But the fact is that much of this country does just that. For some reason, Americans, and many Europeans, want everyone to know that there is something missing from their life, and they just can’t figure out what it is.
Some people wear their emotions on their sleeves, but Americans wear their biggest issue on their chest. It reads: GAP. Judging by the high numbers of those who suffer from depression and the fact that there aren’t enough therapists to go around, it’s clear that there is indeed a gap. But why does everyone else need to know about it?
The bottom line is that you can’t fill a spiritual gap with physical objects or physical enjoyments!
We live in an extremely blessed society brimming with affluence and plenty. But all of the affluence in the world cannot grant a sense of fulfillment. What it does breed is a sense of entitlement and a lack of ability to deal with deficiencies and challenges, which only serves to further frustrate the desperate need to find fulfillment.
There’s no doubt about it. There’s something missing in the hearts and souls of so many today and they can’t seem to satiate it. The more people try to quell that inner pining with stuff and fun, the more elusive the antidote to that gap seems to be.
If we want to find something we are desperately looking for we should take an example from the Macaabees. They won incredible victories from implacable and superior foes, but that did not satisfy them. They re-entered the Bais Hamikdash and searched, pined and yearned to fulfill the long-forsaken mitzvah in perfect purity. It was only when they were able to do so that they rejoiced and felt fulfilled.
My rebbe, Rabbi Berel Wein, quips that the Jewish heart is always searching and pursuing. The only question is what it chooses to search for and pursue. Life is hardly perfect and there are always gaps. The defining question is: Which gaps does one choose to focus on? Does he search for the missing jar of pure oil or is he busy searching for the missing chocolate coins? The problem is that the chocolate coins will do little to satisfy the inner yearning of the lofty Jewish heart and soul.
The light of the menorah must continue to fill the gaps within us long after they have burned out.
Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW, is a popular speaker and author. He is a rebbe in Heichal HaTorah in Teaneck, NJ, and an experienced therapist, recently returning to seeing clients in private practice, as part of the Rockland CBT group. For appointments Rabbi Staum can be reached at 914-295-0115. Looking for an inspirational and motivating speaker or scholar-in-residence? Contact Rabbi Staum for a unique speaking experience. Rabbi Staum can be reached at [email protected]. Archives of his writings can be found at www.stamtorah.info.