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A Precious Loneliness

Sunday, 11 February, 2018 - 10:52 pm

 

Question of the Week:

I know everything happens for a reason, but I am struggling to understand this. For the last three weeks I have been very sick with the flu. It has kept me from my many activities, not the least being my weekly mitzvot that I do. I usually attend shul every Shabbat. Missed that. I visit the retirement home to bring some cheer to the residents. Missed that. An old acquaintance passed away, and I missed the funeral. And I can't look after my grandchild as I am contagious. Please understand I am not complaining (well, maybe a little) but I am trying to understand what G-d wants me to learn from this. Why would He stop me from doing good deeds?

Answer:

I am sorry to hear you have been unwell. I hope the following story that I heard from the Rebbe may be helpful.

There was once a Jew who lived on a farm, far away from any Jewish community. He was a devout and pious man, and he and his wife did their best to create a Jewish home for his children. But he yearned to be surrounded by Jews, to be able to pray in a shul, study Torah with like-minded people and be part of a community. Day in and day out for years he would sit alone with his prayer book and his volume of Talmud, wishing he could share them with others.

After many years, his dream started to come true. Slowly, more Jews moved to his area. It took decades, but he did build a community. Forty years after his arrival, that remote country town boasted a shul with daily services, regular Torah classes, a mikvah and a warm little community. He was no longer praying alone.

But the Rebbe said something astounding about this.

This Jew certainly got more pleasure from the vibrant latter years than the lonely early ones. But we don't know which G-d enjoyed more. It could be G-d took pleasure from his lonely prayers of yearning, all those years of wishing and pining, even more than the communal satisfaction that came later.

A sincere desire to do good is itself a holy moment. When you wish you could help someone but circumstances don't allow it, or when you truly would love to do a mitzvah but your health prevents you from doing it, that pure intention is precious to G-d. And who knows, maybe more precious than when you do a mitzvah with ease.

May you have a full recovery and get back to all your good deeds with full strength. And when things are good, remember your precious loneliness.

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Moss

Sources:
Sichos Kodesh 5716 p349. The lonely Jew referred to by the Rebbe was R' Moshe Feiglin, the first chossid in Australia.
Based on the Baal Shem Tov's explanation of the verse, "My soul thirsts for You in a parched and tired land without water. So I should look for you in holy times...." Tehillim 63:2

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