On Sunday evening, March 5, Let’s Get Real With Coach Menachem Bernfeld, featured Rabbi Yitzchok Feldheim speaking on how to stop hiding in the bushes and get back to the gan, meaning Gan Eden. Rabbi Feldheim is a world-renowned speaker who spent the past 20 years speaking with college students.
Rabbi Feldheim noted that today people say that they know what is right, but they have a psychological struggle being able to live by it. He taught that the stories in the Torah are a paradigm for our life. The Earth is a gan. This is the gan that Hashem created, and we are all Adam and Chavah. “Hashem’s intention is that we should dance in His garden and enjoy His beautiful world.” Sadly, Adam and Chavah and all of us feel naked and hide in the bushes. Torah is the guide to get Adam and Chavah out of the bushes and into Gan Eden.
He pointed out that little children are born on fire. They are born lit and they are the first ones up in the morning. The job of the parent is to prevent water from pouring on their flame. He explained that we are all different with different bushes to hide behind. We need the realization that the world is beautiful, and we have to identify ways to come out from hiding behind the bushes.
He said you can identify what is central to a culture by how many words they have for something. For example, Eskimos have so many words for snow.
He then shared that in Judaism the words with the most synonyms are joy and also t’filah. He added that he discovered another word with over 25 synonyms and that is taavah or desire. Desire is the holiest thing in the world, he taught. Desire is the Yeitzer HaTov. The Yeitzer HaRa is the opposite, and which says that nothing matters. “Our desire is at the core of our yeitzer tov.” He elaborated that the Torah wants us to be happy. No one ever went to a club to be happy. Rather it’s a place to hide.”
He taught that emotional pain is the gap between your dreams and your fears. It tells you that your dream won’t happen. “Simchah is ‘I become everything I want to be.’” The way people cope with losing a dream is to chill. Chilling is to hide from your dreams. “Chilling is to stop caring about your dreams.”
He went on to explain that the word that high school and college students say today is “whatever.” He interprets this word as meaning that it hurts to think about dreams that I used to have.
On Purim, we see that Amalek had the midah of clowning or cackling. It was derisive laughter. People think that in life there is a choice between happy or holy. “We believe holiness and happiness are the same thing.” He taught that the yeitzer ha’tov is dreams and the yeitzer ha’ra is fears.
Hiding means no pain. How do we recover our dreams? First, we need to overcome negative doubts. The fig leaves that Adam and Chavah wore represent shame. We all have accomplishments, but the feeling of shame is feeling we aren’t living up to our own standards.
He concluded that the holidays of Purim and Chanukah tell us the beauty of Gan Eden. Belief in nisim animates our lives. We know that we can cry out to Hashem and He can catch us with His safety net. Hashem created a magnificent world and He can change it in a second.
By Susie Garber