Everyday Life Lessons

Torah is resplendent with everyday life lessons which emerge from proper analysis of sources.

Do emotions just happen?

Can we deliberately utilize emotions?

Tisha B’Av (9th of the month of Av) > saddest day of Jewish year > destruction of both Temples > beginning of WWI (which led to WW2.) etc. What caused the day to be so? 

After coming out of Egypt and receiving the Torah, the Jews were on an unprecedented connection level to God. They were to enter Israel and conquer it without effort and live an ideal Torah life in the land.

They made the mistake of sending in the spies who came back with a bad report and the people, accepting their evil report, cried that night (Tisha B’Av,) to which God responded that He would give us something to cry about on this day through the generations.

The spies with their report and the people in accepting it, brought themselves down (created a spiritual disconnect) from a level where they were virtually physically invincible so that they became subject to worldly force.

Measure for measure (mida keneged mida) they reduced themselves to the mundane ways of the world and their spiritual status reflected this to place them under worldly influences.

So, the consequence is that on this day the foes of Israel were able to succeed in their goal to harm us as our protection was reduced.

God does not punish but has created a system that metes out consequences matching actions which are a means to repair wrongdoing. 

How the day of crying and the observances of the period are a tikkun for the sin is best understood through an analogy of the seasonal cycle of a plant and the soil. 

Everyday life lessons and the cycle of the seasons

Season

Plant Process 

(Internal/External)

Energy Usage

Soil State

Summer

plant in full process mode

using energy to power full external processes; flowering, leaves,  pollen production and dissemination

plant extracting max nutrients from ground  > depletive

Autumn

plant in reduced process mode

leaves and flowers falling away, little energy to produce external components

fallen leaves etc starting to decay and restore nutrients in soil  > balanced

Winter

plant in internal process mode

no energy used for external production – survival mode

rain and damp turn leaves into nutrients > enriched

Spring

plant in increased production mode

external production starting – leaves, buds

nutrient extraction from soil begins > balanced


Converting Everyday Life Lessons

Carrying this through to our everyday life lessons in emotional states:


Everyday life lessons in emotional states

Emotion

Emotional Focus

Energy Usage

State of Spiritual Resources

Joy

externally (socially) focused

using max energy in worldly involvement

Depletive

Fear

focussing more inwards

realisation that joy is transient and difficulties will arise

Balanced

Sadness

inner focus

removal of self from social involvement to introspect

Enriched

Hope

start external focus

renewed energy to socialising

Balanced


So we see that a time of sadness, rather than being something to avoid at all costs, can be an opportunity for personal growth.

Tisha B’Av is the moment set by H’ for sadness and the Sages structured the day to maximise the emotion without losing the hope that ensures the sadness does not descend into despair or depression as follows:

3 Weeks and 9 Days - No music, wine, meat, celebrations – reduction of external (social) focus; move to introspection

5 Depravations  - Enhance the inner-self  preoccupation

Sitting - Like mourners on floor – increased sense of being alone

Eicha/ Kinos - Involve the mind, imagination and heart with tragedy

No Greeting - Minimal social interaction

No regular Torah learning - Remove all distractions from sadness

Mid-day changes - Hope – realise that sadness is not an ideal or permanent state

So, by observing a day of sadness (sometimes through tragedy of experience on the day) we enter a mode of introspection and realisation of the imperfection in our lives.

This is a fix (tikkun) for the sin of the spies who forfeited the ideal situation of living in Israel with a complete connection to Hashem and His protection from all troubles and created a sadness where there should have been joy (vekoroh Alay Moed – and you will call to Me a festival.)

The tragedies that have befallen us are thus a direct consequence of the loss of connection to Hashem and His supernatural protection, caused by the action of the spies.

Addendum – the Midrash explains that before the flood of Noah, the world was on a 90 degree axis and was always spring. After the flood, the world was tilted causing seasons. At the end of days there will be a return to original and no seasons, no need for extreme emotions and a return to the ideal balance.

So we see how everyday life lessons can be the fodder for understanding the deepest and most abstract concepts.


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