Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Returning to The Land of Israel: Part 1

In late 2004, I got to point where my entire life was falling apart. It especially got worse around the anniversary of my father's death. His death was hard for me because I had only found out two years earlier how he died (suicide because of post traumatic stress from Vietnam). In 1978, he killed himself after several years of battling his personal demons after Vietnam. I didn't know this until 2002.

Gong back to 2004. Financially things were going bad, personally things were falling apart, my job was stressing me, and I felt alone. This after a major victory in my life. I got to the point I where I told God that I would not pray again unless he did 5 things before the end of Hannukah. At that point I stopped praying and I went about my life.

After a few weeks I felt a strong feeling saying, Go to Israel...NOW! I thought to myself, I don't have the money to go to Israel. Yet, every day it kept getting stronger. To make a REALLY long story short. I went to Israel initially with the intent to go to Jerusalem to the Kotel (The Western Wall) and tell God that I was giving up on being a Jew. I planned on giving up on anything to do with God. Now mind you, I knew He existed, and I knew He was somewhere cognizant of my thoughts, but I like a child I wanted to show Him I was tired of Him letting me down.

Yet, even the best laid plans can fall apart when you face something as daunting as the Kotel with the knowledge that the Temple of Elohim (God) once stood there. What I found in Israel was that God did not abandon me, He only backed away to make me go to Israel so that I could seek Him in a place where my destiny belonged. Yet, I was also afraid to take on such a concept with all the strife that exists in the Middle East, and with all the surrounding countries that hate or want to destroy Israel.

Dune by Frank Herbert: The Litany Against Fear
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

While I was there, by chance, or at least by human chance, I met people who spoke to my situation and gave me sound advice. Several times it became clear that my destiny belonged in Israel, and that God would guide me on how to get there. It was then that I knew that when I returned to the US in 2005 I had to face my problems and my fears and OVERCOME THEM ALL.

The Sleeper Must Awaken

Sometimes, not all the time, we have to challenge God in order to truly find ourselves. There are times when our lives start to fall apart in order for us to be moved to really grapple with who we are and our destiny. There is a saying from Rabbi Salomon Breuer that when the Bible says, "let us make man" this means that God makes us 50% and the other 50% is up to us to make ourselves and be active participants in our own creation and self-development. When we don't live by the will of God for humanity, it is almost as if we un-create ourselves.


Lori said...

I always enjoy reading and learning about your perspective. But I have to ask, do you really think it's wise to give God ultimatums? I know at some point, most of us feel moved by frustration, weariness and perhaps weakness to do so in life, but should we (smile)? What gives us the right? Also, was it God you challenged in your journey or yourself?

Sorry to hear about your father. My dad, a career military man in the USAF, also served in Vietnam.
While I am very much "anti-war", I do believe it is both a sin and a shame the way our vets have and continue to be treated.

Ehav Ever said...

Hello Lori. Thanks for checking out this article.

In Judaism we are taught that we have a number of examples of people challenging God, or to put it another way seeking God when He seems hidden. In the Torah (Genesis - Deut.) Moses challenges, or seeks, God several times when it seems that God is either going against a previous promise or when the Israelites of that time went against the will of God. In fact one of Moses statements is that if God won't go before Israel, then they won't go anywhere.

The book of Job is also a prime example. Job challenges, or seeks out, God on what seemed to be unfair situations. (It comes out more clearly in the Hebrew text) God of course comes back to Job and presents Job with the unknowns that Job doesn't understand.

In the Jewish perspective, a person who challenges God may find one or two things that happen.

1) They may find that God has hidden himself to cause man to seek him.

2) A person may find that they are not doing everything they are supposed to be doing and God will reveal it.

Also, in terms of when a person gives charity a person can test God when they are doing this. In my situation what I found for myself was that there were a number of reasons that were my fault for my sufferings. I also found out that there were things that were hidden from me in the US, and that I could only find in Israel. So I had a Job moment in seeking God. Essentially, all I wanted from God was an answer on what I needed to do to be what He created me to be, since it felt like He was out playing golf.

In terms of who I was challenging God or myself. I would say that it goes both ways. God of course is perfect in His ways. What i found was that I was not living up to my part. I wasn't able to see it, until God's presence was hidden from me and I had to go searching for it. This was one of the analysis that someone made me aware when I was in Jerusalem.

Just as the book of Mishlei (Proverbs) states.

כי אם לבינה תקרא לתבונה תתן קולך
אם-תבקשנה ככסף וכמטמונים תחפשנה
אז-תבין יראת ה" ודעת אלקים תמצא

"Because if for understanding you will call to give your voice to understanding. If you request it like silver and search it like for hidden treasure. Then you will understand the fear/respect/reverence of the Lord, and know knowledge of God you will find."

Ehav Ever said...

Hey Lori,

One thing I forgot to add. One of the reasons that I believe there are times when a person may feel the need to challenge God is because he has all the answers and we don't.

The fact that we realize we don't have it all figured out, causes us to sometimes react and that is a natural part of life. If you believe that you are doing your part in God's will, but it feels like you are taking hits left and right it is natural to want to know what the deal is. We believe that God understands our pain, and that He also understands natural human reactions. It is not a matter of the holy man who accepts anything that gets pilled on him, it is a matter of the human being who has his questions and seeks the answer because he longs for God's nearness.

If you ever get a chance there is a good book called Through an Opaque Lense by Rabbi Chayyim Angel. There is a chapter where deals with the book of Job in the response to the death of an 11 year old girl at his synagogue. It is a real moving peice.