Thursday, 4 September 2008

Alone - Yet Never Alone

Through my work as an occupational therapist, there have been many occasions that clients have expressed a feeling of being alone, afraid to be alone or isolated in this world. This article will look at the topic of aloneness and help you to recognise that while on the one hand, every human being is really alone; at the same time we are never alone at all.

The Torah teaches us that against our will we are born, against our will we live, against our will we die. Every soul, at the moment it is about to enter a body and the life journey in this world, begins a process all on its own. Even if one is born as part of a set of twins, triplets or other multiple births, at the time of birth, each baby is in many ways completely alone. On its own it has to travel through the birth canal unaware of what it will encounter when it emerges into this world.

Throughout life, no matter if we are in a crowded room, engaged in a loving relationship or at a given time on our own, the truth is that your own given experience of a situation, event or relationship is unique to you. No other human being will experience it in exactly the same manner, and no other person (except perhaps the Moshe of the generation), no matter how close they are to you, will be able to fully understand exactly how your life is for you.

During those times when we are literally on our own is when we tend to comprehend our aloneness in this world. Though we usually think of being alone as a negative, let us look now at a joyous event and acknowledge that even then we are alone in a very real manner. Think for a moment of a Kallah getting married, as she sits and waits for her Chassan (groom) to come and identify her as the one that he had chosen to marry. Her mind is usually focused on prayer for her future. During this time, she is literally alone in her experience, even though it is probably the most joyous day of her life. As she walks around her Chassan under the Chuppah, even if she has her mother and mother-in-law in front and behind her, even though she is circling the man she is about to unite with in marriage, even though a crowd has gathered to witness her happy occasion, still, in this experience she is alone.

Pirkei Avos (Ethics of our Fathers) teaches that we are to remember that at every moment there is an Eye that sees, an Ear that hears and everything is written down in a book. This Mishna is to help us to keep ourselves from sinning. Let us take another look at exactly what this means.

Every moment of our life, there is an eye that sees everything, the eye of Hashem, Master of the Universe. The Eye of G-d notices everything. It can see into your heart, it sees the truth of everything. It sees if you feel strong or weak, happy or sad, every detail is seen by G-d.

Every moment of our life, there is an ear that hears, the ear of Hashem, Master of the Universe. The ear of G-d hears everything. Even when one whispers to oneself, Hashem still hears it. Even if someone talks to you behind closed doors and thinks no-one will hear, still G-d hears everything.

Every moment of our life is written down in a book, it is recorded in Shamayim (heaven). So if one goes through a difficult experience and turns to Hashem in prayer, this is noted down in your book. If someone says or does something to you that is upsetting, G-d forbid, and you manage to summon inner strength and guard your tongue, this is written down. Everything, both the good and the seeming bad is noted down and Hashem will remember everything. For all your effort, for every moment in which you turned to Hashem instead of falling to despair, you will be rewarded either in this life or in the world to come.

Usually this Mishna is brought to us to prevent us from sinning out of fear of what will be written in our book and what will happen if we stumble. Instead of keeping from sin out of fear, let us look at it from this new point of view. Wherever you are, no matter how alone you might feel, Hashem is with you and sees and hears everything. So do the right thing not out of fear of what will happen if you do wrong, but out of appreciation to Hashem for watching over you and always being with you.

If ever you feel you are in the space of feeling isolated, remember, no Jew is ever alone for Hashem is with you always, everywhere. …. …..

If ever you feel scared and alone,
Whether in a crowd, or mamash on your own.
Turn to Hashem and offer up a prayer,
Know in your heart that wherever you are, He’ll be there.
Take comfort in the words of the following Psalm
Let these thoughts bring you inner calm.

For it says in Psalms …. “He does justice for the exploited, He gives bread to the hungry; Hashem releases the bound. Hashem gives sight to the blind, Hashem straightens the bent; Hashem loves the righteous. Hashem protects strangers, orphan and widow He encourages…” (Psalm 146, vv 8 – 10)

In the first book of the Torah, after the first sin, Hashem asked Adam HaRishon, Ayeka, where are you? We are taught that Hashem asked this as an introduction to open up a discussion with Adam. However, it also serves as a reminder that just as we cannot hide from Hashem, so too we are never left alone. However, unlike a person trailing us who might be at times annoying or not able to deliver what we need – as mentioned above in the words of Psalms, Hashem is not only with us but also provides for our every need including our salvation.

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