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Friday, 2 August, 2019 - 9:08 am

Years ago, I was standing with a friend, a seasoned businessman, as his adult son walked by. Nodding toward his son, he muttered to me: “My son needs to understand that the stock market doesn’t always go up”.

You don’t understand life until you grasp the totality of its rhythm; real life has ups, and not-such-ups. And that’s life.

Until Moshiach comes, and the world’s absolute G-dliness shows itself, problems will continue to disrupt our lives. And so much of life depends on how we deal with its ‘down side’.

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe, was brutally oppressed by Stalin’s regime, for spreading Judaism and helping Jews. After gaining his freedom, he would occasionally try to recapture the horrible experience, mentally transporting himself back to the gulag and its pain.

Why? Not because he enjoyed the pain and suffering. But because he valued the character, the inner strength, the experience had actualized. The Rebbe never looked for pain, but when it came his way he didn’t focus all his energy on his suffering; he looked for strength to grow from the experience. We’ve all got our sufferings, and now is an especially appropriate time to contemplate how we respond to them.

The world has a Divine rhythm, a flow of energy, of ups and downs. And now is a time to focus on the not-very-happy dimension of life. While the Jewish calendar generally guides us toward a a spirit of positivity and joy, there’s also a stretch of time – three weeks to be exact – when the calendar turns more somber, guiding us to focus on the ‘downs’.

And that’s where we are right now. Tomorrow will be two weeks since we began our Three Weeks, and a week from Sunday, we’ll be fasting for Tisha B’Av – the 9th day of Av - when we’ll remember the destruction of the Temple.

It’s a time to look at our lives, our families, our communities and our world, and notice the destruction. It’s a time to soak in what’s NOT going right. But it’s not about marinating in the negative; it’s about growing, finding strength and faith.

When we acknowledge the bitterness, and strengthen our vision for the road ahead.

This is life.  Now let’s focus on making it a meaningful journey. 

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