Do you often wonder when you will finally be able to catch your breath? Do you ever say to yourself, “I thought I was finally done with these issues”? Well, life isn’t so easy after all. But this is also nothing new; in fact, Abraham had some very difficult life issues of his own.
Famine: There is a famine in Canaan. Abraham is forced to leave his land and go down to Egypt where his beautiful wife, Sarah, is abducted by Pharaoh himself. In the end, they return to Canaan, unharmed and enriched from Pharaoh’s coffers.
Infertility: Abraham is forced to wait many, many years until his righteous wife Sarah, at age 90, miraculously gives birth. Abraham is promised that that his spiritual legacy will be brought to fruition through this newborn – Isaac.
Child sacrifice: Abraham is asked to sacrifice his long awaited, precious son, Isaac. At the last moment, a ram takes the place of Isaac. Abraham immediately begins to think about Isaac’s future and finding a soul mate for him. He receives news that Rebecca has just been born, but Isaac is 37 years old!
Wife’s death: Abraham returns home from the challenge of his life. He and Isaac are both “in one piece,” but Sarah has just passed away. While in mourning, Abraham is forced to negotiate for the special burial place of the Cave of Machpeilah from a very evil person named Ephron HaChiti. After paying a tremendously exaggerated asking price, he successfully buries his wife.
Shidduchim: Now Abraham must arrange this fitting match for his prized son. He sends his trusted servant Eliezer on mission impossible across the civilized world to get Rebecca away from the hands of her evil and conniving brother, Laban.
Do you see a pattern here? Every time Abraham felt his salvation had come, he was again tested with a different, unique challenge. He was never given “time off” and never arrived at some kind of spiritual finish line.
Webster’s Dictionary defines life as “the ability to grow, change, etc., that separates plants and animals from things like water or rocks.” The Talmud states that sleep is one-sixtieth of death (Berakhot 57b). Sleep means a lack of spiritual consciousness or awareness – this lack is akin to death. In order to LIVE life, we mustn’t be sleeping like a rock; rather, every challenge gives us the opportunity to grow and experience true change.
The pattern of Abraham’s life is our pattern as well. Whether in our personal growth or in more mundane matters, we each confront difficult moments and issues. When we begin to see our salvation, we thank God that we are free or that we have been successful. Although certainly we have experienced God’s kindness and should express our gratitude, we should also know that we aren’t done just yet. Yes, we have grown, we have experienced true closeness and deliverance from our Creator – but we are still very distant from the ultimate salvation.
God’s greatness is unfathomable (Psalms 145:3). Every single day is unique and special; every day is blessed with kindness and deliverance. At every moment, in His great wisdom, God seeks to bring us closer to our ultimate potential. His desire is for us to be spiritually compatible with Him. As we experience the difficulties of life, we can keep our cool by having realistic expectations. While we must reinforce our strength and our vision of success by appreciating our triumphs, at the same time, we need to take a step back and realize that we are in this for the long run. There are no easy answers, but there is an awesome Master plan.
Based on Likutey Halakhot, Hilkhot Shiluach HaKen 5