A Different Perspective

Aug 20th, 2011 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Prayer
From that moment the screaming began that continued for three days, and was so terrible that one could not hear it through two closed doors without horror. At the moment he answered his wife realized that he was lost, that there was no return, that the end had come, the very and, and his doubts were still unsolved and remained doubts.

“Oh! Oh! Oh!” He cried in various intonations. He had begun by screaming “I won’t!” And continued screaming on the letter “O.”

For three whole days, during which time did not exist for him, he struggled in that black sack into which he was being thrust by an invisible, resistless force. He struggled as a man condemned to death struggles in the hands of the executioner, knowing that he cannot save himself. And every moment he felt that despite all his efforts he was drawing nearer and nearer to what terrified him. He felt that his agony was due to his being thrust into that black hole and still more to his not being able to get right into it. He was hindered from getting into it by his conviction that his life had been a good one. Held him fast that very justification of his life and prevented his moving forward, and it cost him most torment of all.

Suddenly some force struck him in the chest inside, making it still harder to breathe, and he fell through the whole and there at the bottom was a light. What had happened to him was like the sensation on sometimes experiences in a railway carriage when one thinks one is going backwards while one is really going forwards and suddenly becomes aware of the real direction.

“Yes, it was not the right thing,” he said to himself, “but that’s no matter. It can be done. But what is the right thing?” He asked himself, and suddenly grew quiet (Leo Tolstoy; The Death of Ivan Ilyich).

His conviction that his life was well lived prevented him from looking at himself honestly, and caused him to suffer these final moments of his life as overwhelming torture. It was only when he saw the “light,” that perhaps he was wrong about his life being good, that he was able to take an honest look at himself and see that the time had come to consider “what is the right thing?”

We go immediately from the destruction of the Three Weeks and Tisha B’Av to the Seven Weeks of Consolation, which include the month of intense love between God and Israel, the month of Elul, the month of Teshuvah, directly into the new life of Rosh Hashanah.

We suffered the agonies of the Three Weeks only as long as we refuse to view our lives other than good. We desperately hold on to that conviction that our choices are good, that we are living as we should, and we are tortured by all our suffering.

The Seven Weeks of Consolation are our opportunity to see from a different perspective; that perhaps we can change the way we are living our lives. This, then, is the meaning of the verse that begins this week’s portion: “See, I present before you today a blessing and a curse (Deuteronomy 11:26).” This is our opportunity to take a new look, to discover a different perspective that will allow us to change. That perspective will afford us consolation just as it did Ivan Ilyich.

This can be used as a Kavanah for the Blessings of Teshuva and Forgiveness during these Seven Weeks of Consolation: The Teshuva will result from the different perspective; the willingness to look at our lives and determine that we can make them better. We will then be able to forgive ourselves for our mistakes, and forgive God for our suffering.

Once we have completed this process of seeing from a different perspective, we will then be able to turn to God and pray, “See our suffering!”

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.