I have to admit that I've had a bit of a battle with Amalek lately. I've been doubting. Reading the news regarding what is happening in Israel, watching my rights being taken away as an American citizen, reading the recent parshas and wondering when Jews will connect to the Torah's energy and bring about redemption . . . it's left me sighing and even cussing a time or two. And worst of all it's left me asking, "What's the point of even trying?"
I don't allow my self to stay in that mode for too long. But its been hard to shake. Maybe it has something to do with the energy of Kislev, as we wait for the light to break through the darkness. A darkness that seems suffocating at times. Yet, no matter how dark things may seem, Hashem expects us to keep believing and to keep hoping. And the only way to keep belief and hope alive is to focus on Him rather than on circumstances.
Not only have I been guilty of doubting, but I have not been praying often enough. Doubt. Lack of prayer. The two certainly go hand in hand. My mother is a very spiritual and disciplined person. She has always reminded me that prayer is THE most important thing that we can do. When we pray we build up our emuna (faith) in G-d. We set the balance right again in our hearts and minds of Who is in control of everything. I was reminded of this truth when I read a newsletter from Sam Peak of Biblical Faith. In it he shared the teachings of Rabbi Shalom Arush from his book called The Garden of Yearning. In it Rabbi Arush reminds us of emuna and prayer. The following is from his book:
"We know that emuna is the world's most precious commodity, and that the entire purpose of Torah, mitsvot, and creation is to bring a person to emuna. We should know that the main principle of emuna is our belief that everything is for the best. Any emuna that lacks the faith that everything is for the best is incomplete and is accompanied by fantasies and disappointment. Emuna is synonymous with happiness and with prayer. In addition, when we believe that everything is for the best, we believe that there is no power in the world other than Hashem. One who believes that there is nothing other than Hashem is spared from a long list of negative emotions such as anger, revenge and frustration."
Rabbi Nachman also reminds us of the importance of prayer and emuna:
"Every person must say: The whole world was created for me. If the world was created for me, it is therefore my constant obligation to examine and consider what is needed to repair the world and provide everyone's needs, and to pray for them."
"The world regards emuna as something minor, but I consider emuna as being of the greatest importance."
"When you have emuna, every day is filled with good. When things go well, it is certainly good. But even if things go wrong and you suffer, this is also good. For you trust that G-d will have mercy and will eventually send good. Everything must be good, because everything comes from G-d."
"One should have faith in G-d, not in the means in which something comes about. The Holy One, blessed be He, is the Cause of all causes, and there is absolutely no need for any one particular means. Even while resorting to a given means to try to bring something about, we must believe only in G-d, and not put our faith in the means."
As political situations escalate and as spiritual darkness seems to dominate the world, I can either focus on circumstances or focus on Hashem. Prayer is the discipline that brings about proper focus and it is the root of emuna. And it is a privilege that I too often brush aside. I get to talk to and petition the King of the Universe! That alone should overshadow everything. Along with knowing His answer, though often beyond my understanding, is always right and good.