We are all living in a world that doesn’t function in the same way it used to. Simple visits to family are on hiatus or severely hampered by covid tests and quarantines. Even then, plans are often thwarted at the last second because of exposures. This is not only true in our social circles, but also in our work (if we still have it) and in our spiritual lives. The result is a malaise and depression that has set in for many. Given this may be our reality for the next six months, is there a way to look at things differently? Can we overcome the frustration?
I believe we can, and it is by understanding that sadness and frustration was built into the world not to hold us back but to help build us. To understand what I mean, we have to look at a new angle of what the original sin was and what the result was afterwards. Since G-d doesn’t punish in the Torah; rather,He employs consequences that fix the problem, if we look at the consequences we can fully understand the problem.
After the sin, G-d says that Chava will be ‘etzev’ twice with respect to child rearing and once by Adam with respect to harvesting. Etzev is the Hebrew word for sad. Why would sadness be the natural consequence from eating of the tree and how does it help? One idea is that Adam wanted to eat from the Tree in order to be like G-d immediately as the serpent says when you eat of it, “you will be like G-d”. The issue is that being like G-d via the simple act of eating is not what G-d intended for mankind. To be like G-d, we had to earn it and work for it. For this reason, ‘etzev’ was placed into the world. Perhaps, a more accurate definition is not mere sadness, but frustration. Things wouldn’t happen easily or smoothly in life. We would need to go through a long process full of dead ends and pains. The upside? Everything we then do in life becomes a process that we take ownership off. We have to work hard and think through solutions and in the process this builds us.
Perhaps we can look at the current situation in much the same way. Rather than get frustrated with what we have to put up with, we can realize that frustrations are what builds our character. It is when we jump through life’s hurdles that we take ownership of our lives. With that perspective we are armed to not let frustrations get in the way of living our best life.