Saving Mother Teresa

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14 Responses

  1. YoelB says:

    Was it the Kedushas Levi who said something like “I don’t wonder why I suffer, I wonder if it is for Your sake that I suffer”?

  2. Dovid says:

    When I’m feeling distant from Hashem I usually recall the Midrash on the Parsha of the Akeida that understands “Vayar et haMakom Merachoke” as meaning that Avraham felt distant from Hashem. If haGoan Avraham Aveinu Ztsl could feel distant from Hashem and still be Avraham Aveinu, I certainly have nothing to be ashamed of!

  3. yy says:

    whewww. The honorable author of this piece, I must say, has stepped into a venerable vacuum of shichus elyon by articulating so well the power of the Nesivos Shalom to address subtle but very real life issues in Avoidas H'(Divine Service)for our generation.

    Yes, the Nesivos is that master, demonstrating over and over again throughout his phenomenal sfarim kdoishim “the foresight and depth to put into theological context” the paradoxical truth of that shadow-light tension for every genuine Eved H’. Aye, these sfarim have been weilding an increasing influence over the entire Torah world ever since they came out, some 20 years ago, which offers much promise on the horizon. Nearly every shade of Orthodoxy has become passionately familiar with it, concommitantly redefining a faithful Torah Jew as one who passionately and humbly “does what is within his ability to do.” As the Rebbe, zts”l, often compares it to the laws of checking for Chometz, a Jew must search his heart for arousing love of G-d only as far as the hand may reach. After that, his job is to intend that all is hefker (no longer in his possession).

    That said, let us never make the mistake that the Rebbe considered love for H’ as only one of many ways to serve Him. As you briefly noted, it is “the most important element of the inner essence of G-d.” So much so, that whenever we’re stuck significantly below that point, the Nesivos’s mantra is “lo l’hashlim,” *NEVER* to come to terms with it!

    THAT’s why Merari is called Merari, which means the bitter one. Bitter, but not sour. He keeps showing up for work… and dreaming about catching some of the light filtering down through his brother’s holy labor.

  4. lawrence kaplan says:

    A very thoughtful article. I particularly appreciated Rabbi Adlerstein’s respectfully critical attitude to Christanity.

  5. Gershon Josephs says:

    You seem to be assuming that she lost her faith due to being depressed at the scenes she witnessed on a daily basis. However it seems to me that it was the other way round, she was depressed because she lost her faith. How do you stop someone from losing their faith? The best way would be to prove to them that their faith is true. However if you could do that, it probably wouldn’t be called faith.

  6. Mark says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein – Yeyasher Kochachah!

  7. One Christian's perspective says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein you are a breath of fresh air in your gentleness and boldness to tackle an article that leaves many Christians puzzled and saying “What ?” .

    When I read the Time piece on Mother Teresa….. again, I must admit that my thoughts were not very spiritual or godly…. but something like “was she a non-recovering co-dependent” ? I don’t say this in jest because that is where I was but ,by G-d’s grace, I am in a place where I can truly laugh at myself and turn back to G-d when I see those old patterns emerging. In looking back at your statement “the amount of pleasure that each Jew brings to His Creator is a result of his doing what is within his ability to do……………”, I would add that each image bearer of G-d has a moral responsibility to love their self and to take care of their self in order to do the job G-d has assigned…… in joy. The Sabbath is a picture of the rest and care we all have been designed to need for refreshment. Sabbaticals/retreats are an even longer Sabbath; if you need a retreat, take one. G-d is big enough to find a good (or maybe better) replacement for your job.

    Co-dependents are kind, caring, loving individuals who run on empty taking care of others and ignoring their own needs. We don’t know how to care for our selves. I did this for many years. However, I have seen that embedded in the love commands is also the command to love yourself….as G-d loves you.

    Love is the gasoline that powers the engine but even cars need a trip to the garage for maintenance when they break. G-d is the only One who can fix what is broken without an invoice being issued but we need to be able to recognize when we are broke. Crying out to G-d “Help” is often the response that gets us into the garage , but, sometimes in His Grace, he brings us to the garage Himself when He says ‘enough, you are going home with me’.

    May the thanks of those Mother Teresa helped reach the throne of Grace within ear shot of her ears.

  8. Avi S. says:

    This does not answer Rabbi A’s question, However, I have always wondered what out our השקפה has to say about religious feeling in non Jewish worlds.

    If Mother Teresa was feeling cut off from JC, perhaps HKBH was doing her a favor?

    What exactly is that feeling of דביקות that Christians feel?

    And finally, why is it that their prayers are answered when they pray to JC?

  9. Micha Berger says:

    Someone who is depressed because they think they lost their faith is obviously wrong. Such depression can only come from a thirst which the truly faithless lack. By feeling alone, she showed she wasn’t apathetic — and it’s apathy which is the antonym, not loneliness.

    Of course, from her own perspective, given that she believed in a very human sort of god, her perceptions may have been different. But in terms of us Jews trying to learn lessons from what we read…


  10. One Christian's perspective says:

    What exactly is that feeling of דביקות that Christians feel? – Avi

    None other than the same that David felt when he wrote Psalm 139.

    Why would you think that Christians do not know the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ?

  11. dovid says:

    “Why would you think that Christians do not know the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?”

    Because if they knew, Europe’s history would have played out very differently.

  12. One Christian's perspective says:

    “Why would you think that Christians do not know the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?”

    Because if they knew, Europe’s history would have played out very differently.

    Comment by dovid — September 5, 2007 @ 6:08 pm

    I would like to say that Christians did save Jewish people during WWII but I know that not all who did so were Christians. From studies done about the rescue, it was discerned that some were Christian, some had high morals, some saw Jews as friends and neighbors and some were just plain greedy. Not everyone who confesses to love G-d, does in fact do so. Faith and deeds must go together for the glory of G-d. Murder, hatred, greed, envy, covetousness, stealing, slander, chaos and discord are deeds of the flesh that man decides to do from a heart of stone not a heart that yearns for the touch of the hand of G-d. Fear and faith cannot dwell together. Weak people dominated by evil people often live in fear and turn to the ways of an animal to survive. Humanity has never known a period of time when there was no war, no hatred, no sin. Everyone who was ever born and lived has carried the burden of pain and hurt done by others , and most of us, if we are honest, recognize that we too have caused pain and hurt in the lives of others.

    I truly believe that the evil deeds done by some during this period are mourned by some of their children, some of their nation and some of the gentiles even today. But where the love of G-d neither grows nor thrives, evil dwells in comfort and abundance. We have only to look at the secular world values that abound in every nation and people group of the world today.

    Dovid, I am truly sorry for what was done to your relatives, tribe and nation but I can not heal your hurt and pain…..this is G-d’s work, if you let Him. Neither can I take credit for Danish ancestors who saved the Jewish people of Denmark or for German/Swiss ancestors who fought against those evil nations. All either one of us can do is to daily live our lives in a way that brings G-d glory and peace and love to our neighbors. I consider you my neighbor – internet neighbor – can you take my hand in friendship – no strings attached ?

  13. Chaim Wolfson says:

    Thank you, Rabbi Adlerstein, for this thought-provoking piece. I was particularly impressed with the ingenious manner in which you framed a disussion that really is relevant to all of us. I don’t know how many people experience the extreme type of spiritual crisis you describe, but we all have our spiritual ebbs and flows. It’s part of being human. Please allow me to share some thoughts.

    I firmly believe that embedded in the subconscious of every frum Jew is a deep-seated “emunah”. [I am not referring to the proverbial “pintele Yid”, which non-frum Jews also posses as a legacy, but to an “emunah” that is a product of the chinuch of a frum Jew, beginning from when he is first taught “Bereishis bara Elokim” as a child.] The problem is that this subconscious “emunah” doesn’t always translate into a conscious awareness, because we live in a world of “hester panim” where we don’t perceive Hashem in our daily lives; and as the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind”. What we need to do is BRING Hashem into our consciousness; then, our inherent “emunah” takes over and our entire spiritual outlook changes. We have numerous opportunities over the course of every day to do this. Every “tefillah” we daven, every mitzvah we perform, presents us with an opportunity to raise our conscious awareness of Hashem. But if we daven and perform mitzos out of habit, we do not reap this benefit. Ideally, of course, the solution is to daven and perform mitzvos with conviction; however that is much easier said than done. I have a suggestion that I think is not too difficult to implement: Every time we make a “berachah”, we should stop for a moment beforehand and think about Who we are addressing and what we are saying to Him. A “berachah” is a direct communication with Hashem, and contemplating the significance of what we are communicating cannot help but raise our awareness of Him. Some might find this impractical to do before every “berachah”; after all, we are supposed to make 100 “berachos” a day! It might be easier at first to focus on the “berachos” we make before eating. It really takes only a few seconds of contemplation, so assuming one makes ten such “berachos” a day, the investment of time adds up to less than a minute. I have found that it’s well worth it.

    “Kesivah v’chasimah tovah” to all my cross-currents friends. May we all merit a meaningful and uplifting “Yomim Noraim”.

  14. lawrence kaplan says:

    Thak you for calling my attention to the Nesivos Shalom of the Slonimer Rebbe. I was struck and very moved by his comment on Merari. Et hatai ani mazkir ha-yom. I confess I had never heard of the Sefer before. I just went out and bought the first volume on Bereishit.

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