Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Be a Winner, Learn Patience!

This 9 minute clip is packed with potent advice from the Torah about how to stay CALM in all situations. For your convenience, there is written summary of the main points below.

If you want to taste Hashem's kindness, you can mainly get it by controlling anger. By controlling anger we sweeten all the harsh judgments and turn them into kindness and forgiveness. This is called cavishas cas. When we take a deep breath and wait to respond this is called arichas apayim

The Talmud and all of the books of mussar say that 99 percent of conflicts could have been avoided by just taking a breath and waiting. When someone says or does something that is insensitive or insulting we have to wait and not respond right away. The solution is always time. We can resist the temptation to react in the moment and retaliate. 

When the other person is angry we must also wait to appease them. We must save our apologies until the person has calmed down. The Talmud says don't try to appease a person who is angry. If you follow the Torah's advice things will go easier for you; things will go better for you - erech apayim (a long breath - meaning patience ) is the main theme of the 13 Attributes of Mercy - the 13 attributes of Hashem that we need to emulate.
Faith includes believing that all that comes your way - all the obstacles and opposition you are experiencing - is only coming from G-d. If you believe this, you too will be very slow to anger. Hashem will help you to be patient in the face of confusion and setbacks. You will keep taking deep breaths and believing that this too is for your very best...that this too is directly from G-d and in accordance with His will. With patience, you will have incredible strength and courage to stand up to enormous opposition and to overcome tremendous obstacles.
Sadness also reflects impatience, it results from a sense of feeling entitled to not have to bear and tolerate frustration and opposition. But if you really long to serve G-d, you will yearn for patience and emuna, which are closely related, and pray for these qualities constantly. Rebbe Nachman tells us that a propitious method for overcoming anger and sadness is to yearn for the Land of Israel because the Land of Israel corresponds to faith and slowness to anger.
Reb Noson tells us that ultimately with practice that this quality of being patient will reach our hearts. It will start with patience in our external behavior but it will become a deep inner patience that is natural and strong. Then we will never bear a grudge or harbor any hatred in our hearts. Our hearts will be completely purified and cleansed of anger and resentment.
When the Jewish people made the Golden Calf and committed idolatry, Moses prayed for our forgiveness and G-d revealed to him the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy. Moses saw one of these Attributes in particular and bowed to it - it was the attribute of patience...of being slow to anger. Moses bowed to Hashem's patience because he knew that through Hashem's patience the Jews would be forgiven for committing idolatry.
There was a time when Moses, our teacher, even on his level, lost his patience with G-d. The Talmud tells of when Moses was sent to convince Pharaoh to free the Jews from slavery in Egypt and Pharaoh responded cruelly by increasing their burdens and affliction. Moses became upset when he saw that his efforts to redeem the Jews only added to their misery. The combination of his frustration over Pharaoh's resistance and the Jews' misfortune caused him to lose his patience and he challenged G-d.

Moses turned to G-d and said "O G-d, why did You cause hardship to Your people...From when I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your Name, he made things worse...You have still not saved Your people." G-d answered, "Now you will begin to see what I will do to Pharaoh...The Talmud adds that G-d said to Moses: "You will see Pharaoh's fate, but not the fate of the thirty-one kings in the Holy Land" (meaning that Moses would not merit to enter the Holy Land (the place of patience) because he lost his own patience with G-d. Each of the Patriarchs were promised the Holy Land and even though each of them encountered obstacles, they never challenged G-d. Because the Patriarch's withstood trials to their patience and remained firm in their faith that they would inherit the Holy Land, they are buried there; Moses because he blemished the quality of patience, is not.
Patience is one of the greatest blessings you can receive. The ability to hear someone out...the ability to control your face; to hold back your words and to hold back your emotional reaction.  This was why Moses was so excited when he saw Israel because he knew that he needed more patience. If you are patient and remember that everything that you go through is for your own good you will taste the World to Come.

You must try your best to emulate Hashem's characteristics and be patient with everything and everyone. This means to not be bothered by people  doing things differently than you want them to be done. Just take a deep breath and remain quiet. Even if you believe you are right. Even if what the other person is doing is wrong. Unless it's is a very terrible sin just remain quiet and breath slowly. Your comments can cause much more destruction than what the person is doing or saying. 

You have to overcome many obstacles and endure much suffering in order for your soul to be healed - but your soul will be healed. If our suffering were really in proportion to the magnitude of our sins it would have been far greater.  G-d, in His love, only sends as much bitterness as a person can bear. It's certainly within our power to endure it. If you think carefully about your problems themselves you will see that each one has a positive side to it too. The problems themselves always have an angle which in itself offers a solution.

There's no one who does not suffer in some way. It may be the problems of making a living, problems of health or problems with a spouse or child. Nobody can escape a certain amount of pain and hardship because "man was born to struggle" (Job 5:7). Our Rabbi's have said, "The medicine for suffering is patience." A wise man said: "For someone without a strategy the best strategy is patience."
The holy Arizal shared with his chief disciple, Reb Chiam Vital, that the prerequisite to studying kaballah was that there can be no anger or impatience in the house - even in spiritual matters. We must be extremely careful  about expressing anger in any way at all. We must learn to accept the difficulties and challenges that come to us from the people in our lives: from our spouses, fathers, mothers, in-laws, children, relatives and neighbors. Hashem is helping us all the time, even when we don't know it and He can help us to handle the most difficult affronts to our honor, our patience and our self-esteem without getting discouraged.  
Something that can help you tremendously is to know that there are surely going to be a multitude of obstacles when you  decide that you want to grow spiritually. Right away you will be sent innumerable obstacles. Just knowing this can make it much easier for you. You will not be caught off guard. This is just what has to happen when you want to get closer to Hashem. You must have the brazenness of a leopard and strength of a lion to overcome each obstacle and to pass through it without giving any serious thought to the obstacle or dwelling on it at all. Just focus on your positive goals. Keep doing what you want to accomplish in your life.  
In Reb Noson's autobiography he describes how very trying and difficult it was for him when his own family objected to his becoming  involved in the chassidic movement and in particular with Rebbe Nachman of Breslev. Reb Noson's father and father-in-law were two of the most powerful figures who stood against chassidus in Russia at that time. His father was both a wealthy man and a Torah scholar. His father in law was one of the most respected rabbis in the part of Russia that they lived in - and they were both totally against him. Reb Noson's wife was also totally against him.
Nevertheless when Reb Noson saw the tsunami coming he prayed and Hashem gave him erech apayim (patience) and when  he was attacked, he never answered back unless there was an extremely important reason to - instead,  he just waited and waited...and soon Hashem made people change in relation to Reb Noson's patience.

His father in law once asked his wife if Reb Noson was learning any less since he became a student of Rebbe Nachman. She told her father that just the opposite was taking place...that he was learning two or three times more than before. When the father in law heard this he smiled and said "then leave him alone." He told her: "If you have to sell salt in the marketplace to keep the house going this is what you should do." This was the kind of respect that even Reb Noson's opponents developed for his honest yiddishkeit and desire to come close to the tzaddik. Because of his incredible patience he was able to weather and live through huge battles and to fortify himself so that he never stopped or interrupted his service to Hashem. His patience told him that he had the strength to outlast any storm ; he refused to become involved with obstacles... he never gave up; he focused on solutions and his vision of the future. May you merit to do the same.

Dr. Zev Ballen