When the soul is appointed a time and place to enter this physical world, the angels ask the soul if he wants to be rich or poor. Some say Rich, but other souls ask, What do you get if you are poor? The answer from the angels is, You get faith. Belief is different from faith because a person believes what they do not know, but faith results through the experience of knowing; the more knowing a person experiences, the more faith in what is known—knowing is the fountain of faith, from which sprouts the bitter and the sweet.
My teacher, I call him Rav Aba, who taught me how to read Hebrew almost 50 years ago when I was 26, instructed me in the way of truth. Rebbe Shimon who wrote the esteemed Zohar two thousand years ago was known to have said, If a person studies the Torah, then God will care for him; but the Rabbis said, No. If a person works and studies Torah, then God takes care of him. Some tried the way of Rebbe Shimon and failed while others tried the way of the Rabbis and succeeded. My teacher said, If you can wait long enough, God will take care, but most people can’t wait. Faith helps us during the waiting period.
I work, I study the Torah, I pray and I have been waiting for decades. And there is no question, God has seen me through, yet I have not reached my goal in life and so I still live on the precipice, ready to fall at any moment because life is precarious. God and I, we play this game of Chicken. I do some really stupid things then see if God will get me free; God often waits until the last moment, to check my resolve. This process is often quite painful, but as they say, No pain no gain.
I am convince, the outer pain in the world is just a reflection of the inner pain within each individual. If there was no obstacle, there would be no pain. The pain indicates the obstacle. Now, that I have turned old and the past has effortlessly fallen away, the obstacles are fewer and more subtle. I have noticed how much more exacting I have become as a result of my age and vulnerability. As I approach my 74th year here on planet Earth, I am beginning to feel weak, my legs hurt, I can’t walk as far as I use to be able to walk.
My life has become a race to the end with God. Every little thing becomes an opposition because the sand in the hourglass of time is quickly running out. Will I make it to the end or will I fail? There is no assurance in life; there is only faith—in the end, God will do what God will do. I like to listen to baseball games because in baseball, we all know, it ain’t over until its over.