There’s no “bad” in the world (based on the teachings of Rav Nachman)
If we believe in G-d, we believe that:
- Everything comes from Him and
- G-d is all-good and all-merciful.
While these basic principles of faith originated with the Jews, they aren’t unique to Judaism. Christians and Muslims conform to these very monotheistic concepts. They’re part and parcel of belief in One G-d.
The Chassidic masters beginning with the Arizal and continuing with Rav Nachman reiterated the idea that there’s no such thing as “bad” in the world. This idea is intrinsically connected to the concept of “hashgacha pratit” or Divine providence, i.e. if it was ordained to happen from Above, it’s meant as a personal message in the form of either a “love letter” or a “word of warning.”
G-d loves all of humanity. He does not want us to go astray. In a way, it’s like your superior at work or parent. They’ve invested countless time and money into your education and don’t want it to go to waste. They have an interest in keeping you on the “right” path in life.
It’s difficult to tell someone going through a life crisis that it’s “no big deal;” that “things will eventually get better.” It’s not even the right thing to do. We should be critical of ourselves, while judging others favorably.
So to tell someone else–especially a friend or colleague who’s struggling not to worry or worse–accuse them of a lack of faith, is the worst thing you can do in that situation. For example, you DON’T tell a Jewish friend dating a Gentile woman he’s a “bad” Jew, and you DON’T tell someone mourning the loss of a loved one there’s “nothing to mourn–they should be happy instead.”
The correct approach is to tell them you understand where they’re coming from and agree with what they’re saying. (It doesn’t matter that you don’t actually agree). That’s what any beginning social worker is taught and it’s pretty much the essence (and only concept worth mentioning) in psychology.
But people need to grasp the truth that EVERYTHING in the world is good in order to get through life. (Life isn’t meant to be easy, but basic Torah concepts can be applied as “coping mechanisms” even if they weren’t meant as such). When the individual is capable of hearing, it’s quintessential that they internalize the idea that everything that happens–be it loss of work, a painful divorce, or the passing of a loved relative or friend, is meant to:
- Teach you something, and
- Make you stronger and better equipped to deal with similar experiences in the future.
There are 2 approaches to tragedy:
- You get depressed and sulk in your misery.
- You thank G-d for providing a “free” lesson, get right back up and continue with life–stronger and more mature.
#1 is what you do if you haven’t “invited” G-d into your life. This doesn’t mean you’re “secular” (I don’t believe there is such a thing), or a “bad” Jew or person. It means you’ve yet to understand what you’ve been told time and time again. You’re not a “bad” Jew because once again, everything is from G-d and the fact that you don’t “get” it yet, means G-d “knows” you aren’t ready to receive the message.
#2 is what you do when you’re “connected.” By “connected” I mean you’re not only observant in word, but that you actually “get” what it means to believe in G-d. You understand what the framework of religious Judaism is all about. You’re beyond the first few years of being a “ba’al tshuva.” Being observant defines who you are at this point.
In summary, even things that seem to be “bad:” take ISIS, murder, or rape, are a) good that we lack the tools for identifying as such and b) meant to teach us something–usually that “something” is related to ourselves.
Amongst the things we pray for, we should make sure to ask for the ability to: attain the wisdom and understanding to see the good in G-d’s world, and gain the capacity to pinpoint those things we’re doing wrong and repent for them accordingly.
If it’s all good, be grateful for it!
It’s logical. As kids, we’re taught to say “Thank you.” An ungrateful child is one of the worst curses a parent can have. It’s worse than a child who grows up to be a thief or adulterer. Being ungrateful is paramount to betrayal. If you’re ungrateful to someone who’s done something good for you–even something relatively minuscule, you’re betraying his/her good will. Even more so, you’re betraying G-d, who sent that person to do good for you.
How much more so should we, the Chosen People, a nation who’s merited to return to our national homeland after two thousand years in the Diaspora, be grateful for everything we have starting with the hair on our heads and toes on our feet and continuing to our house, job, and wife or husband?!
Taking presents for granted–the “I deserve it anyway” attitude–is as bad in personal life as it is in the business world. Not only is it not a good character trait–it won’t get you the results you’re looking for. It’s even worse when you apply it to the Creator of the Universe.
Religious or not, you have what to be grateful for. G-d or no G-d (please forgive me for my heresy) you have your life, your apartment or house, your friends, your health, and your peace of mind. Sometimes, things don’t go “according to plan.” But we’re not always in control. We don’t always come up with the “master plan.” There are those who have none of those good things. A vast majority of people in the world, in fact, have nothing. They’d die to be where we are.
Certainly, religious or not, you’d agree that the family you were born to and the life you have aren’t entirely coincidence; that there’s some element of Providence worth being grateful for.
We’re given a limited time on this Earth. It’s important to realize what life is all about in order to make the most of it. Not the “most of it” in terms of physical pleasure that does not represent reality and is not permanent, but spiritual pleasure you get from “imitating” G-d by doing good for others and helping those in need.
G-d created the World out of His loving kindness. He had no need for doing so. He did it in order to bequest His mercy upon the world–and us, humans, first and foremost as its primary focus. It’s written that the world was created for the Jewish people. G-d wanted to be kind to us. Even before we came into existence, He was showering us with his gratefulness.
We strive to be a “Holy People; a Nation of priests.” The path towards holiness lies in being close to G-d and this is done through “imitating” His behavior. By showing gratefulness, by thanking Hashem for the multitude of blessings He has bestowed upon us, (and for those we haven’t merited to receive yet) we’re in fact, coming closer to Him.