“I am blackened, but I am pleasant” (Song of Songs, 1:5)
I am blackened due to my misdeeds, but I am also pleasant because of the deeds of my forefathers. Even within my own deeds, there are pleasant ones to be found. (Rashi ibid.)
Sifting out and identifying the good (pleasant) from the bad (blackened) is the key to Jewish survival and salvation, both on a national level and on a personal level.
We have a tendency to focus on our setbacks and failures, the outcome of which is depression and melancholy. Additionally, this cause us to continually feel heavy and stiff which prohibits us from doing even the minimal good which we are capable of doing. Even if we try and sidestep this condition by employing all types of “quick-fixes”, these bandages are short-lived.
So, what can we do?
Rebbe Nachman teaches that a person must look for, pinpoint, and connect to the good points in himself. But what if the good seems to be outnumbered by the bad, and what if the good itself seems to be blemished and defective? Nevertheless the person can still connect and identify with the speckle of true good always to be found. Doing this enables oneself to overcome sadness and other negative feelings.
Sometimes this does not seem rational; nevertheless, the power of focusing on the good has great benefits and rewards. The reason for this is because the pure point of good is essentially a part of God Himself! Once a person is capable of always connecting to God – no matter what, they have it made!
What if this proves difficult to practice?
Rashi alludes to this problem when he explains, “but I am pleasant due to the deeds of my forefathers“.
Forefathers are a reference to the Tzaddikim. Rashi is therefore explaining that although I have been blackened by my misdeeds, and their blackness is covering up the little drop of good that I find within myself; BUT, I am pleasant due to the deeds of the Tzaddikim. The Tzaddikim have the ability to help me stand strong and hold on to the little drop of good that I find within myself. Their powerful advice, as well as their prayers and spiritual abilities – will help me overcome my difficulties.
May we all merit closeness with true leaders – the Tzaddikim – who have the ability to reveal to us the value of our personal goodness. May this in turn lead to the revelation of the collective good found within everyone, and may this collective process spur on the coming of Mashiach and the building of the Third Temple, speedily in our days, Amen.