2. Corridor


4 Iyar 5781

We continue looking at Rabbi Luzzatto’s text (Mesillas Yesharim, now at paragraph six in chapter one). Rabbi Luzzatto states that everything, for good or bad, is a test. If one finds oneself in a bad situation one can misuse the name of Hashem. If one finds oneself in a very good situation one can think one is satiated and does not need to follow the mitzvot. The author compares this to fighting a war on two fronts. It is true that someone in dire need may pray fervently or wonder why his prayers are not fulfilled and it is also true that, once one’s wishes are fulfilled, one may pray less fervently and forgive to give thanks for what one has.

It is not easy to avoid taking things for granted. Someone born in a city in the first world will take water as a given. The will complain if there is no water but will not be thankful every day because there is water. Someone born in a desert might, however, be daily thankful. Every good thing we have is, in itself, a miracle. One should think about all the other people for whom having this is impossible. Even in the worst situations we could imagine, it could always be worse. Conversely, even the best situation could be improved on. Someone who is unhappy by nature will be unhappy no matter what.

The point is that if one follows one’s bad inclination, one will find a reason not to pray – either because everything is well or because one is having problems. On the other side, however, having problems should be an incentive to pray more and so should not having problems.

We further read that R. Luzzatto states that once someone wins in this two-fronted war, then one leaves the corridor and enters the palace. The image of the corridor is especially striking, as it implies it is narrow and easily blocked. Unless one follows the straight way out, one will be turning into walls that lead nowhere. However, if one decides not to face the walls and turns instead to the path and walks on it, one will reach the palace, where one is not bound by narrow walls but instead will have freedom, basking in that R. Luzzatto calls the “glow of life.”

This is what I wish for everyone reading as well as a great Shabbes free from sorrow.

D. Cohen