In a teaching by Rebbe Nachman that I learned this week with some friends, the concept of waiting really struck me. Sometimes there is a great value in waiting for something. Sometimes you are forced into a situation where all you can do is wait and be patient. The Covid pandemic has brought all of us into a new reality. Our family is currently in isolation because my daughter was in class with a teacher who tested positive for Corona virus. A week later, our daughter’s second Corona test came back positive, even though she had no symptoms. We are about to finish our second week together in isolation. We are so used to being able to go out and do things; we are used to being on the run and pursuing different desires. Sometimes though, Hashem says that we need to be in a state of waiting. The Corona virus is teaching this lesson to all of us.
Rebbe Nachman teaches in the 24th lesson in Likutei Moharan, part one, that there is a spiritual light called the infinite light, which is above all of the different levels of a person’s soul. The infinite light of Hashem. We try to obtain it, but we really cannot. We can touch it so to speak, but then it slips away. A light that is above our souls and our perception. However, through two actions a person is able to build the proper vessels to contain some of this awesome light- pursuit and waiting. Part of the process is being able to wait. Our mind is always trying to reach higher, to pursue this Godly light, and to get closer. However, there is a part of our soul which holds us back from this pursuit, so that we will not try to reach too high. If we reach too high, it can actually damage us. In order to build the right vessels to contain the spiritual light and bounty that Hashem wants to give us, sometimes we need to wait and be patient. Slowing down and feeling stuck can feel difficult, but that is part of the process.
Rebbe Nachman also teaches in the book Tsaddik, the life of Rebbe Nachman, an important practical advice for all areas of life. For example, he says that someone who wants to sleep, but he cannot fall asleep, the advice is not to force himself to sleep. If a person tries to force himself to fall asleep, the opposite will happen; the obstacles will just become stronger. This is true, Rebbe Nachman says, in every matter in life- a person should not force himself to do something. The same advice is true in the service of Hashem, not to force himself too much. Even though a person needs to be very quick to purify himself and to merit true service of Hashem, and it is forbidden to push things off from one day to the next… nevertheless sometimes, when someone sees that the obstacles are too great and he is not able to accomplish his goal, he needs to wait. He should not become confused or dejected when he does not merit accomplishing his goal; he just needs to wait until the right time will come. Reb Noson continues and says that Rebbe Nachman himself was amazing also in this aspect. He was very fast in everything he needed to do, also in physical matters, yet nevertheless he was very balanced and moderate. When he saw that something was not happening, he was very moderate and patient. Reb Noson adds one more point that is important – a person needs to keep longing and wanting to fulfill their good will, despite the obstacles. We should never let ourselves despair, and immediately when things open up, we need to fulfill the mitzvah or good deed we desire to fulfill. (Tsaddik, teaching 431)
Many times when we slow down, we might realize wait a second- why was I so pressured about this thing. What is the rush? Right now, our family finds ourselves waiting for our isolation period to end. As much as it will be nice to be able to go out and get a few errands done, or to be able to exercise, I don’t want to just be waiting to get out of isolation. To just pass the time. I want to be able to appreciate and discover the good in this period of waiting at home. Every single day we can learn important lessons, every day is new and comes with its blessings. Every day when can give to those around us, especially our family. Even when we are stuck at home. As we learned in the first teaching above from Rebbe Nachman, part of the journey and the process of connecting to amazing spiritual light is holding back and waiting. For me personally, many times when I feel healthy and free to go where I want, my good desires turn into pressures, so this time of being at home is helping me I hope to let go of the pressure. I want to be able to do the same things, but without the pressure.
May we all merit during these challenging days, weeks, and months of Corona to discover the gifts that Hashem wants to give us specifically when things are closed and we are stuck at home.