Then I moved to Israel, and God showed me pretty quickly: There was a whole bunch of bad middot, negative character traits and very unhelpful habits and beliefs I had that were the polar opposite of how a Jewish saint should act or think.
Thank God for Rebbe Nachman, who explained very succinctly in his writings that a person’s character is like a big pot of water. At first, it looks as though the water is pure and clean. Then God brings the ‘fire’, a metaphor for all the troubles and hardships we all go through in life, to start boiling the water up, and all the impurities in our character starts to rise to the surface.
Then, Rabbenu tells us, all we need to do is just stand by the pot with a big spoon (which I think is probably referring to the sort of introspection you get by doing daily hitbodedut) - and keep scooping out all that gunky stuff as it rises to the surface. By the end of that process, the water will actually be pure, and not just look pure.
So, I was hoping that with all the troubles, difficulties and subsequent teshuva that’s been going on in my life the last 12 years, the pot (i.e. me) was pretty much at the properly clean stage. After last week’s monster revelation and subsequent teshuva, I was hoping, really, that I’d done most of what was required and would get a least a few days off of having to notice my flaws and making teshuva for them.
But you know what? The opposite seems to be happening. Instead of sitting back and feeling like I’ve finally sorted myself out, God seems to be pulling more and more of my bad middot into the open - and I’m getting so sick of all the ‘ick’ I’m still carrying around in myself!
When is this process going to end, already?! (I know, I know, until 120, bezrat Hashem) - but in the meantime, I was really hoping that I’d have got a little further on in the cleaning process by this stage of the game.
I’m trying, God, I really am. Either my pot was really big, or the water was really dirty to begin with, I don’t know what. But I’m not going to quit until all the gunk that’s still floating around has bubbled up and been taken out.
I just hope that 120 years is going to be enough to complete the job.