Can You Lockdown a Soul?

Monday, 31 August, 2020 - 9:45 pm


Question of the Week:

We are enjoying another Melbourne lockdown in all its confinement. I am trying to remember the concept in our religion about the person who has had a more troubled past doing good vs the person who was always well behaved . It reminds me of my feelings towards this lockdown. If we can happily evolve past this hardship, and overcome this wall of difficulty, I feel it is sort of akin to the more troubled person making themselves better…. If you have the time, please would you point me in the right direction?


You are thinking of the Talmudic quote: The place where a reformed sinner stands, a saint can ever reach.

It's a bit like a bow and arrow. The further back you pull the bow, the further and faster the arrow flies. Similarly, when someone realises they have fallen low, they have a determination and resolve to get back up. Someone who has never fallen can't muster this rebound energy. Only after being pulled down by failure do we generate the momentum and velocity to fly back up.

This happens in marriage too. Things can be bumbling along nicely in your relationship, you're getting on well and that's nice. But even in the best of marriages, the connection can at times become a little stagnant. When does a couple really become closer? What is the greatest catalyst for deepening a connection? An argument.

In a moment of tension, when one of you said the wrong thing or did the wrong thing, it can sometimes seem like the love is lost. There's a point when you realise you have hurt the one you love, and you are gripped with terror that you may never be able to fix what you have broken. It is at that moment that you reach deeper within to find a love that transcends the hurt, you apologise from the depths of your soul and are willing to do anything to restore the relationship to what it was. 

But it never goes back to what it was. It's deeper now. After surviving a challenge, you see just how strong the connection really is. You wouldn't have learnt that had the tension never arisen. 

Similarly, the perfectly righteous person is in a smooth relationship with G-d. It's nice, but untested. We naughty people who have done wrong have an opportunity to go far deeper than that. If after all I've done, I still come back to my soul and my G-d, that proves just how innate my bond with G-d is. 

Take a look at the Jewish people today. Most of us have been disconnected from Jewish spirituality for generations, and yet we tend to come back home. And often those who return come with a greater passion and fervour than those who never left the fold. The Jewish spark was always there. The further your soul is pulled away, the more powerfully it yearns to return.

I like your parallel to our current global challenge. The restrictions are the bow pulling us back, and we are the arrow ready to fly. The more we have been separated, the more we yearn to connect. The greater the isolation, the more we find creative means to reach out. You can't lockdown a soul. The more our bow is pulled, the higher our soul will fly. 

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Moss

Talmud Brochos 34b

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