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Becoming Me!

Rabbi Moshe Lieber

Parshat Vayera

Oct 21, 2009

Life’s tests often seem to us to be unfortunate episodes that crop up along the highway of life impeding our pursuit of happiness. The Torah provides us with a radically different perspective on the gift called Nisyonos.

When Hashem tests someone it is totally for the benefit of the individual. A nisayon permits us to translate potential into reality and affords us the opportunity to achieve heights as people and as Yidden that we might never even realize we could achieve.

The word ðñ which means flag or banner and the word ðñéåï are related because a nisayon is meant to elevate a person so that he or she transcend the puny spiritual image they have of themselves and become the great person they can truly be. Furthermore, just as a banner is a signal that something significant lays beneath it, so trials and tribulations bring to light man’s hidden qualities, which were up till now undiscovered and buried deep inside.

The Midrash explains the angel’s repetition of Avrahams name at the Akeidah with the phrase “Avraham above, Avraham below”. R’ Gedaliah Schorr zt”l explains: Avraham above is the Avraham that Hashem imbued with almost supernatural potential while Avraham below is the fully developed person that emerged when he actualized all of that potential by rising to the challenges of the ten trials. At this tenth trial, when Avraham below prevailed he became synonymous with the Avraham above who was so fully endowed with potential.

We all are blessed with almost infinitely more potential than we realize. So much human ability remains dormant and unused, a true tragedy! Only when we are placed under stress are we forced to draw upon our untapped resources and talents.

The purpose of life’s difficulties, the trials and tribulations that God imposes on people, is to enable them to actualize their emotional and spiritual powers.

The town of Dvinsk was blessed with two world-renowned geniuses who served its two congregations concurrently. The Rogatchover Gaon, R’ Yosef Rosen, outlived his colleague the Ohr Some’ach, R’ Meir Simcha Ha’Kohen, and eulogized him with the following observation:”One trapped under a fallen beam in a burning building can find the strength to move the beam and escape the flames, even though under normal circumstances he would never be able to move the beam even an inch. When R’ Meir Simcha learned, he always tapped into that strength.”

Ordinary people, if they are worthy, are presented with trials which force them to find strengths they never realized they had. While we all pray daily that God not bring us “into the grip of challenge [and test]” this reflects our fear of failing the test and, as it were “disappointing” God. However, in reality spiritual growth is spurred on only by overcoming life’s difficulties. Without tests we might never become who we really could be!

When faced with making the right, rather than convenient, choice, be it in the work place or the clothing store, the shidduchim scene or in your interaction with parents or friends remember that Hashem has confidence in you and knows that if you emotionally stretch you can not only succeed but also grow.

When faced with a challenge don’t wilt --- remember that it’s His way to move you forward and upward so that you can be the complete you Hashem made you to be.

Have a lovely Shabbos!

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