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What Is Wrong With People?

What Is Wrong With People?


Do you ever think to yourself: What in the world is wrong with people? Aren’t they getting what I’m getting? Aren’t they feeling what I’m feeling?

You may have just lost a dear family member. The grief is insurmountable. You are driving in the limo from the chapel to the cemetery, and you look out the window. People are walking around, shopping, having lunch, and going about their day. And you ask yourself: What in the world is wrong with these people? Aren’t they getting what I’m getting? Aren’t they feeling what I’m feeling?

You may have just experienced the birth of a child for the first time. You are excitedly calling friends and family, while your wife holds the newborn. You are pacing down the hallways, and pass by the nurses’ station. One nurse is complaining about her nails, the other talks about the cable guy. And you ask yourself: What in the world is wrong with people? Aren’t they getting what I’m getting? Aren’t they feeling what I’m feeling?

You may have just graduated from a 28-day program in rehab. You just discovered your true self. You just found a way to alter the course of your human existence—your entire life. You just discovered the thrills of having a relationship with a power greater than yourself. Your emotions are raw, and you are floating on the pink cloud. Then you come home. You turn the TV on, and some reality show comes on about some wannabe celebrity who is catching the attention of millions of Americans. The price of gas is more interesting to people than the latest reading from your 24-hour book. Friends and family are so excited that you are finally back to the “real world.” And you ask yourself: What in the world is wrong with these people? Aren’t they getting what I’m getting? Aren’t they feeling what I’m feeling?

You are in good company. The Talmud relates that after spending twelve years in a cave delving into the depths of mysticism and Jewish philosophy, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai walked back into the real world. There he saw a man plowing his field, and he asked himself: What in the world is wrong with people? Aren’t they getting what I’m getting? Aren’t they feeling what I’m feeling?

G‑d heard him loud and clear. G‑d’s answer was: There is nothing wrong with people; it is you who have a problem. Maybe twelve years was not enough. Why don't you try it again for another twelve months? I guess it has something to do with the number twelve . . .

In Step 12 of AA, we are told that having a spiritual awakening is not the end of a spiritual journey, but just the beginning. Now we need to practice these principles in all of our affairs. Like it or not, the world is real, and is materialistic. Like it or not, the real world is one where people go about their day doing the things that they do.

Being spiritual is not about having the capacity to exit the world and enter into a reality of Divinity. Being spiritual is not about creating a cave for ourselves so that we don’t have to deal with the real world. Being spiritual is our capacity to practice these principles in all of our affairs. Being spiritual is the possibility of plowing a field and having a relationship with G‑d at the same time. Being spiritual is having a relationship with G‑d that is inclusive of all my daily mundane actions.

After the additional twelve months, Rabbi Shimon walked out of the cave again. This time he had the power of healing, of reconciliation. This time he was able to see a man in a hurry and see the beauty of a Jewish person taking his observance of Shabbat to heart. Rabbi Shimon said to himself: There is nothing wrong with people! They are getting what I’m getting! They are feeling what I’m feeling! They’re just channeling these feelings and emotions into actions that put them in harmony with the world. They are practicing their spiritual principles in all of their affairs. I just acquired a whole lot of principles, let me find a whole lot of affairs to apply them to.

The world of Kabbalah was born.

Rabbi Yisrael Pinson is the Director of the Daniel B. Sobel Friendship House in West Bloomfield, MI. Since joining the Friendship House he has helped create a local Jewish Recovery Community where recovering addicts are helped through support, guidance, friendship and community.
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Anonymous cin, OH USA July 19, 2011

Every day is a gift If you remember that you will always have balance and a sense of belonging. Reply

andy parkersburg September 22, 2010

You hit the nail on the head. This is exactly what i just went through... and when i say went through, im talkin about 15yrs it took me to come to this conclusion. You have no idea how much reading this article meant to my confidence and believing what i was already believing, I am not jewish...i am from WV, and i think sometimes we have to face our worst fears in order to have faith. I finally have my faith, and i refuse to let it go for anything, because my faith will never let me down...unlike the people in my life or the things in my life my faith will not disappear when i need it most. It will catch me shall i fall...per say Reply

Dr. Beverly Kurtin August 3, 2010

Empathy For the individual who had a trailer and truck stolen: I know the feeling and I empathize with you. Does your area have an interest free Jewish loan available. While I have not had anything stolen, I have had a few heart attacks and a massive stroke. There went my ability to work. But I will not say, "put on a happy face and get out there and blah, blah, blah. Life is tough and there are opportunities out there; you will find one that is a perfect match.

When the doctors (experts all?) told me I would never walk, talk or work again I refused to accept their say-so. Six months to the day I had the stroke I returned to work. I couldn't talk clearly but I could answer questions and that is what I did via our knowledge base. I wish I had enough money to just send it to you; unfortunately, all I have is my Social Security as a large bank dragged its feet on selling stocks I had. There went a hunk of change. I will be praying that you get what you need...quickly. Reply

Anonymous KC, KS August 2, 2010

Thank you Thank you Thank You Last month they stole my trailer with $15,000 of equipment. Today they stole my truck worth $4,000. At least I have my health and I'm still alive but it's very difficult because these things provided my livelyhood. I'm afraid I may be destitute before long. Reply

Beverly Kurtin Hurst, TX December 4, 2008

Feelings While finishing my doctoral in computer science, I worked in an operating room at a county hospital. Gurneys by the dozens went down the hall on their way to the operating theaters; some lived, some didn’t. I felt terrible for the families of those who didn’t make it, but I couldn’t stop living; it was just part of my job. People could not understand how I could casually move a gurney on which a recently deceased body lay. Some of my fiends thought I was crazy for working there because I didn’t show any emotions about my job. Now when I have to be operated on, I am merely interested in seeing what new machinery is, ask questions about how I’ll be induced and what kind of anesthesia will be used to keep me under. It’s no big deal. Yet I can understand the feelings of how others felt prior to surgery, yet I’ll never fret about surgery myself. Strange how we humans can get used to just about anything. Reply

Mosche P December 1, 2008

Thank you very much That's exactly what I was going through, although it didn't take twelve years and I was not in a cave. But I can truly feel for this Rabbi. Reply