My friend passed on highlights from a shiur she’d just heard from Rav Eliyahu Meirav, one of Rav Berland’s English-speaking senior students, that hit the nail squarely on the head concerning a bunch of stuff I've recently been writing about here on Emunaroma.
Here’s what she told me, in the name of Rav Eliyahu Meirav:
There are two main things we all need to be praying about at the moment.
Is that we should ask Hashem to help us to feel His goodness, because that’s the only way that we’ll get free of all the fallen fears and worries that so many of us are consumed by at the moment.
If we’re feeling sad, worried, scared or stressed (and let’s be honest, who isn’t at the moment…) that’s because we’re not really feeling Hashem’s goodness, and because we’re not really believing in Hashem’s goodness.
So we need to pray to ask God to help us feel His goodness, mamash.
Is that we should ask Hashem to save us from having a bad attitude towards other people. Practically speaking, that means we should daven that God should help us to see the light contained in every Jew.
Of course, that’s not at all easy to do, as we’ve been discussing at length here, on Emunaroma.
The world is full of crazy, mentally-ill nasty people, and it’s very hard to see the good in ‘nasty, bad’ people. When someone asked Rav Meirav about this specific point, he answered:
‘Why hate people, even if they ARE bad?’
He then went on to explain that it’s a lack inside us, spiritually, when we feel negative feelings towards our fellow Jew, even when they are certifiably crazy and ‘nasty’. As one of my email correspondents put it (and Rav Meirav emphasized), when other people’s ‘bad’ is still bothering us, it’s a sign that we’re somehow lacking something in that same area, which is why God is bringing it to our attention to work on.
“Hashem has a completely good eye!” explained Rav Meirav. And He wants us to work on developing one too. (See, it’s that ‘good eye’ thing popping up again…)
Ad can, the words of Rav Eliyahu Meirav.
Again, from my own experiences, this is so bang on the button. For as long as I was struggling with some huge ‘nasty’ personality traits myself, including arrogance, self-righteousness, jealousy, judgmentalness, vindictiveness, holding grudges and a lack of emuna, Hashem was shoving all those things in my face via other nasty people all the time.
The more I am working on taking those things down in myself, the less I’m having to deal with them in other nasty people. And the corollary of that is that the less these nasty people are bothering me, internally, the easier it’s getting to deal with them day-to-day, and to interact with them, and to really work on trying to see more of their good, instead of being scared of them, and what they might do to me.
Before I got to this stage, even being in the same room as a nasty person could send me into a tail-spin for days… It was such a hard stage to go through, but certainly necessary, and maybe an unavoidable part of the journey we all have to undertake to try and actually fix all our massive character flaws and innate craziness.
Writing in the Garden of Healing, Rav Shalom Arush says that:
“All types of mental illness express themselves in arrogance and inability to get along with other people in society. The person with these illnesses is always worried about what others are thinking about him and how he looks to them, or he’s afraid of them, or he hates them and feels they don’t appreciate him….
“It’s his pride that doesn’t allow him to admit that something is mixed up inside of him, and so he treats everyone with disdain, and thinks that they are confused and don’t understand his ‘ideas’.”
This is a pretty good description of my state of mind when I was all hepped-up on identifying and ‘hating’ the wicked Erev Rav (aka Jewish narcissists).
It’s taken me around three whole years to unpick this whole mess, and if I wasn’t doing regular hitbodedut sessions, going to Uman at least once a year, and trying my best to nullify my own ideas to the teaching and advice of true Tzaddikim like Rav Ofer Erez, Rav Berland and Rebbe Nachman, I dread to think how ‘crazy’ I’d still actually be.
Of course, applying Azamra! - Rebbe Nachman's lesson of seeing the good in every single Jew - is not at all a simple matter.
Trying to see the good in a fellow Jew is not at all the same as excusing and / or ignoring all their disgusting, hurtful, mentall-ill behavior.
There's a way to apply Azamra! that won't open you up to being hurt or harmed by crazies, while still doing your bit to tip them into the scale of merit and bringing moshiach and geula faster, the sweet way.
BH, I'm planning a podcast on 'practical Azamra', and I'll stick it up as soon as it's ready.
But in the meantime, take heart, dear reader! If a crazy person like me can get to a stage where I’m only half crazy, half of the time, just think what heights of sanity you can scale if you really apply yourself…