If you ask people what frustrates them more than anything else, and really probe to the core reason, the’ll most likely answer that situations where they're not in control are probably the worst sources of frustration. A person doesn’t mind a normal headache so much if he or she can take a glass of water and two aspirins, which from experience, they know will relieve a good measure of his pain within the next thirty minutes. But they can’t stand the inexplicable migraine that doesn’t succumb to the pain killers. Why? They can’t control it…
Now ask a person what the worst type of dream is. Many will answer, the free-fall, when a person feels like he’s falling in space, usually waking up in a cold sweat right before he crashes to the ground. What an utter feeling of no control!
Skydiving is a very popular sport. Those who skydive live and breathe their skydiving. But let’s ask ourselves: are all the skydivers daft? The answer is certainly not. I’ve known skydivers who are level-headed former paratroopers and combat veterans, some of whom with advanced degrees from university. How can they allow themselves to jump out of airplanes? They perform a free-fall for so many seconds then either pull the cord that opens their parachute or else their parachute opens automatically. They can’t control the speed that they’re falling downward. So what’s the difference between the skydiver and the person free-falling in a nightmare?
One word: trust.
The skydiver trusts that the parachute will open. The free-faller in the dream has nothing to trust.
Someone stopped me in the street recently in my hometown of Ashdod, visibly worried. “What’s going to happen, Reb Lazer? What's with Hizbulla's thousands of missiles aimed at us and we don't even have a functioning government to do anything about it? Have you heard? Iran is about to is about to clash with the Americans in the Persian Gulf at Hormuz, and if so, we’ll probably get attacked with missiles. There's a big chance that we'll get dragged into a war soon. Hey, and I haven’t even mentioned the Atom bomb that the Iranians will have any day. They’re all planning to destroy is. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem is calling on all the Arabs to kill all the Jews. And if all that isn’t bad enough, Yair Lapid could very well be the next prime minister in Israel. We won’t be able to send our children to cheder any more…”
“Slow down, my friend,” I injected at the opportune time, when he stopped to take a breath. “You’ve been listening to a lot of news lately."
“But I must be informed! I can’t live like an ostrich with his head in the ground,” he said, slighted by my suggestion that he’s spending too much time on CNN, YNet and Foxnews.
“Be honest with yourself,” I said. “You’re uncomfortable being in a situation where you’re not in control.”
He stopped and thought. The man had a kipa on his head and was obviously an observant Jew. “I never thought of it that way, but now that you mention it, I think you’re right, Reb Lazer.”
“It’s up to us to do what we can and to make the most productive use of our time. We have the control and the free choice to open up the computer or to open up a Gemara. We can spend an inconsequential hour on Facebook or we can put on our walking shoes and use that hour to walk a few miles and talk to Hashem in personal prayer. Why fret about the things we can’t control when there’s so much more to do in the realm of things we can control? Besides, who is presumptuous enough to think that he can run the world better than Hashem can?”
“But I believe in Hashem,” the man said defensively. “I just have to do my hishtadlut, my own effort, to stay informed.”
“Our hishtadlut is to strengthen our emuna and our trust in Hashem. He runs the world and He is doing everything not only for the very best, but for our ultimate benefit both on a personal and a national level.” I continued to explain that when we’re worried or up tight, there’s no reason in the world to feel out of control. We can take a time out, push the “reset” button on our brain, and go speak to Hashem in solitary personal prayer for an hour. That’s real control...."
The man unfortunately preferred to perpetuate his worry and anxiety rather than living the sweet life of emuna and trust. Maybe the suggestion to swap Facebook for a walk and talk with the Creator sounded look fairy tales to him. Too bad that people prefer to live their lives as terrified free-fallers, never knowing when the crash moment of doom will arrive, rather than living the exhilarating live of a skydiver who knows that the parachute always opens at the right time.
It’s great being a skydiver when Hashem is your parachute...
I wrote this post to strengthen myself, for I have now returned to the USA urgently because of my mother's rapid health deterioration. Her Hebrew name is Chasia bas Kaila.