Every Jewish neshomah (soul) in its gilgul (life cycle) in a particular body has descended in order to afford it the opportunity to do certain specific mitzvos and thus realize its potential. Its yeridah (decent) is for the sole purpose of a subsequent aliyah (ascent)1 and, as we will see, as everything physical is a reflection of its spiritual counterpart, so it is with everything. Every descent is for the purpose of an ascent. Indeed, there is no ascent without a prior descent. This is true of souls, of nations and of each individual in his own life.2

This is staggering information. Apply it to a position one dislikes: for example, a traffic jam. There are two ways to approach a traffic jam; to be outraged at being helplessly trapped, or to try to understand what is going on and determine the reason for being in that traffic jam.

Suppose some incompetent, insensitive driver drives out on the wrong side, oblivious to traffic, causing an accident. The immediate emotional response of most people is rage. Know however that it is possible to avoid frustration. Know that it is possible to avoid anger. How? By really understanding Hashgochah Protis. Understanding that being in a specific position at a specific moment (not the result of a moral decision) is deliberate. And if being placed there is for the good3, and only for the good, there can be no anger. There can only be an appreciation of the need for growth, the need for an aliyah from the yeridah.

There can be no worry.

There can be no fear.

If one’s environment is totally controlled and deliberate and for the good, what place is there for worry? Or fear? Or anger?

This is a great level to attain? This requires practice and effort? Agreed.

But what these secrets in Torah promise is a light clearer than any previously revealed in the world. To see the best view, it is a hard climb.

The Alter Rebbe4, the founder of the Chabad movement, in his book, Tanya, the cornerstone of Chassidus, quotes the verse that says that it is within the grasp of every Jew to be able to do.5 It requires training. But it is within reach of every Jew. Imagine a private world where there is no fear and no anger and no worry. This is the position to which a Jew can climb. Why? Because he understands that his immediate position is absolutely deliberately orchestrated by Hashem, being recreated for him at that moment in time.

Any apparent negative happening therefore is only for the purpose of growth.

What then if this position appears bad like the traffic jam? Or the lunatic driver?

There are three berachos (blessings). Bonim (children), chai (health) and parnossah (money, sustenance). They are the three berachos which Jews receive. It is rare to be allowed all three. More common is for a Jew to receive two or sometimes one. (This will be discussed in detail later). But what happens when a person, used to receiving one of these berachos, is suddenly denied? A Jew loses money or his child sickens or, even worse, G‑d Forbid, dies.

So why is that happening?

In the last three hundred years the ordinary Jew who learns Chassidus has become privy to this unbelievable secret. The secret bears repeating: Every descent in physical creation is necessary for the purpose of an ascent to a point higher than before the descent. The rule is not an ascent and then a descent. The rule is that in order to achieve an ascent, first there must be a descent. This is a stunning revelation. It is a revelation so great as to change one’s appreciation of the world forever. There is no bad in the world. There cannot be any bad in the world. There is that which we perceive as being bad. Why do we perceive it as being bad? Because we see it as being unsuitable for our position as it is revealed to us at a given point in time.

The Rebbe has a famous letter6 where he replies to somebody that a Martian entering an operating theatre would not imagine that the surgeon and his team, cutting the patient open, were doing something intended for the ultimate good of the patient. But, in fact, what is happening in that operating theatre is that, leaving aside personal gratification, that medical team is dedicated to doing something positive for that person being interfered with.

In life the descent is usually obvious; but perceiving the ultimate ascent?. That is a whole lifetime’s effort, but we will learn its structure together.

Often a person will be compelled to find the path to his ascent. For example, assume it was for his good for a multi-millionaire living in Sydney, Australia, to move to Eretz Yisrael. A computer programmer, given the job of moving this man to Eretz Yisrael, will have a difficult task. The subject has everything he wants where he is. His wife and family are there. His matching BMW’s in the garage are there. His holiday house in the ski country is there. He is not moving to Eretz Yisrael. But, take away his money; bankrupt him; is there a better chance now?

Now assume that for that person it is an ascent to go to Eretz Yisrael. When he loses all his money, he views his position as disastrous (the descent). When he reaches Eretz Yisrael and finds a new life and new happiness, he may understand that without the descent which was for the purpose of the ascent there could have been no ascent.

A person can regard the descent critically, blame G‑d, blame the system and beat his head against a wall. Become angry or worried or frightened. Alternatively, he can try to understand what is going on with his life and try to see where he is going. Sometimes he may need to access a Rebbe. But, invariably, there is an opportunity, where there is descent, to recognize the opportunity for an ascent. We will learn how together.