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Why Did G-d Take Away My Talent?

Why Did G-d Take Away My Talent?

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Dear Rachel,

I am 24 years old. For as long as I can remember, dance has been my life. I had great aspirations for becoming a full-time professional dancer, but six months ago I had a bad fall and broke my leg in several places. I was devastated! As I’m young, the doctors were hopeful that I’d recover fully and be able to return to dance. But I have not, and they have lost their optimism. I feel like I’ve lost meaning in life. Why would G‑d give me a talent and then take it away? I’m sad, depressed and angry. Why did G‑d do this to me?

Cursed


Dear Blessed!

Though G‑d and I are very close, He doesn’t usually confide in me. However, my first impression is that you’re looking at this all wrong.

It’s devastating to lose your ability to dance when it has been the focus of most of your life. But many people aren’t ever able to use such talents, and often feel frustrated and unfulfilled. You’ve had two decades of dancing! That’s a reason to be thankful and joyful.Our wheel of fortune turns in accordance with our destiny

Don’t look at all the years you won’t be able to dance; look at the years you have been blessed with the ability to do so. And remember that the lifespan of a dancer in terms of her career isn’t very long. This question would have arisen at some point down the line.

We are given our blessings—be they talents, good looks, money, status—only to serve G‑d. Our wheel of fortune turns in accordance with our destiny. In other words, G‑d gives us our talents based on His desire for us to use them in serving Him.

Maybe G‑d doesn’t want you to give up dance entirely, but to take it in another direction. While you may not be able to dance professionally anymore, you can use your talents in other ways. You can work with children who have disabilities, learn dance therapy, choreograph for summer camps. You don’t have to give up your love for dance, you just need to tweak it slightly.

The most worrying part of your anger and depression is that you have let dance define you. You are a valuable person because you are a Jewish woman. A Jewish woman is called a princess, a daughter of the King. You have intrinsic value by being alive and being you, quite apart from how many pirouettes you can do.

This is true of everyone. Too many people define themselves by their talents, careers, fortunes or social standing. But this has nothing to do with who they really are. And you are lucky in that you are learning this early in life.

The purpose of a Jew is to do mitzvot. That’s a Jew’s calling. That’s a Jew’s career. You can certainly do mitzvot while being an artist, dancer, singer, painter or writer by using your talents in serving G‑d and revealing Him in your art. But if you lose your talent for whatever reason, this doesn’t prevent you from serving G‑d. Because serving Him is a 24/7/365 gig—no matter who, what or where you are—and it doesn’t require any special skills or talent. And you have talent! Dance requires discipline, and you can use the discipline you have honed in dance in keeping G‑d’s commandments.

A special way you can serve G‑d (and very meaningfully, too) is by accepting this veryServing G‑d is a 24/7/365 gig—and it doesn’t require any special skills difficult trial with love, understanding that while you don’t know why this has happened, you accept His will and know that He has something better for you down the line.

Every mention of women dancing in the Torah and the Tanach—and there are several—refers to dancing as a means of praising G‑d in joy. In Talmudic times, on the 15th of the month of Av the women would go dancing in the fields wearing white dresses that they had exchanged with each other, so that the eligible young men could each choose a wife. But I assure you, they weren’t looking at their dancing ability; they were looking at these girls’ potential for serving G‑d with joy and building a happy Jewish home in Israel.

May your heart dance when your feet cannot, and may you serve G‑d with joy wherever your legs take you.

Rachel

Rosally Saltsman is a freelance writer originally from Montreal living in Israel.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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Vivienne June 21, 2017

WOW! This article resonated with me, I too lose multiple skills, talent, and career due to an injury sustained many years ago. Reading this article brought tears and sadness that flushed over my face. But as I continued to read it was at the sixth paragraph or section – I felt a feeling of delight.

It’s so true we are given talents, intellect, skills etc. from our Creator and if by unforeseen measures we lose them. We are here to be of service to HaShem his desire for us and our knowledge and duty to perform a mitzvot has not changed.


The more I continue to do a mitzvot – the more content I feel letting go of the past life as I once knew it and appreciating what HaShem a have blessed me with. No attitude of loss of dismay but an Attitude of Gratitude and heart felt Appreciation.
Thank you for this wonderful article. Reply

Raymond Bastarache NB Canada June 21, 2017

Why? G-d? I love your answer, to this question....if my talent takes me further away from my relationship with G-d? then let Ha Shem by all means, take away my gift? I'd rather lose my talent than lose my devotional time with Him. Noah walked with G-d.....meaning in a habitual way. Shalom. Reply

Bracha Goetz Baltimore June 21, 2017

Beautiful! Reply

Edward Keenan Rosamond June 21, 2017

Am a Jew but I never been in a synagogue Temple. I just like to say thank you for this site . Am been thinking about going to Temple lately . Because of .chabad.org. am getting to know God better for my life and family . God bless those that hear this message . Again thank you . Reply

Gabriel Germany June 21, 2017

Great answer, and: an universal one. One could exchange Jew to Moslem or got to Jesus or Communism and the answer would still be very helpful. I miss the concrete sources of he sentence about dancing women in white while Talmudic times Reply

Rachael Prague June 21, 2017

Wow! Beautiful! Reply

Vicki Stone Portland June 21, 2017

I believe the young dancer was expecting a better answer than vague ideas about life and our place in it. she wants a concrete WHY did this happen to her. Just say we don't know, we simply don't know. Reply

Anonymous Jerusalem,Israel June 21, 2017

If Rachel thinks she has a problem,I would switch problems with
her asap! I married a physically and emotionally abusive man who had affairs with both men and women.I kidnapped
my children and brought them to the USA after he threatened to put a hold on their leaving Israel (yes,men can do this to male children,as in Israel; they belong to the father)I was an Aguna for 8 years and the Israeli court ruled no child support ,even though the children were only 2 and 4 years old and my ex-husband was
extremely wealthy.I have raised the children alone with no family help. They are both in Ivy League universities currently,but I am
totally alone. I have tried the "shadcan" route,the internet route,
telling the entire world that I am single including my butcher and dentist. I have hardly ever been set up and now I finally give up.
I believe that Hashem gave my children all the mazal my family
was due and that my mazal was that and that alone.The entire
story is very sad. Reply

Anonymous Israel June 20, 2017

Why Did G-d Take Away My Talent? By Rosally Saltsman BS"D Thank You for a great lesson that we need to always remember Who knows the reasons, and why. Reply

Linda Rivera USA June 20, 2017

I was so happy to read this! What a WONDERFUL answer!!! And such great encouragement! She will indeed, do far more than she ever imagined!!!

She ended her sad story, with cursed! I loved it and laughed with joy when you replied with, Dear Blessed!

There are times when we have no idea why we're in the very sad circumstances that we're in. And the sad time goes on and on... and on... But G-d is so Good! Always!!! G-d knows what He is doing! His work is perfect! G-d is More Wonderful than words can express! My gratitude to G-d, forever! Reply

shayna fl June 20, 2017

it would be better to teach young girls ballet or tap, just girl classes, but never professional where the world looks at your body, not modest Reply

JDV Paramus, nj June 20, 2017

If you have a talent that you can use in the LONG run, and it is beneficial to others, that will make you a true star. You need to redirect yourself and your goals. Reply

Gail June 19, 2017

Very wise comments. Something like this is crushing; you need time to grieve about it, too. Don't be ashamed of your questions to G-d: He is big enough to hear all your anger, and disappointment. In the Psalms, King David often addressed his negative emotions to G-d (Psalms 109:23). You are very young; life is a tapestry of broken threads, and torn fabric. But the Lord has a purpose and destiny for you! Read the Book of Esther. And then dance with joy. Reply

a yid June 19, 2017

Perhaps this young woman has an opportunity. She loves dance but has been told by doctors that a "professional dancing career" is not possible. What are the possibilities here? This is a healthy ongoing question. The article touched on some different options. I think the main idea here is how can this woman continue her love for dance in a professional manner? Here are two general suggestions 1) is a degree in dance therapy/recreational-movement therapy possible? where she would be employable to work with movement with different age groups (which could include dance and other forms of movement)... and 2) for herself personally, maybe she can develop her own system of movement, creative movement that she can perform or teach others. maybe some instruction in creative writing/drama/theatre could show ways for her to engage her creativity going forward. Best wishes to this young lady. May Miriam's dancing in the Torah and dancing in Psalms be continuing inspiration for her. Reply

Anonymous U.S.A. June 19, 2017

Empathy? I think you could have started your answer with empathy, sharing with the lady's feelings that she is left bereft of her desire to dance. Reply

Shelley June 19, 2017

This was an interesting letter to me as I could relate to her situation in a certain way. 3 years ago I incurred a painful and now chronic injury that took me away from my rigorous, advanced yoga practice. There is a spiritual euphoria that happens doing this (and in dance as well) because it is a marriage of beauty and an inner artistic need to create form with the body. It's psychologically challenging to lost this ability. In yoga we say we are fighting with the "ego" that is "attached" to the physical realm. You can see the irony here. Interestingly the Eastern philosophy has much in common with traditional Judaism. I never, ever saw this as G-d hurting me, because I know He would not. This is us as earthly beings enduring our mortality for a little while. I know it hurts and it is almost impossible not to be shortsighted. But G-d is carrying you. Your beautiful soul still dances with him and yes there is much more life, challenges, and triumphs waiting for you. Blessings xo Reply

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