The programmer of the electronic message system on my burglar alarm has a sense of humor. At night, when I press in the code, it says, "Perlberger – Armed–All is Secure". "Thank you," I whisper. I can sleep knowing armed electric guardians of angels surround my house and all is secure and well. I walk up the steps to the bedroom with a slight smile. Safe. And sound.

But in the morning, when I turn the alarm off, it says –" Perlberger - hit for faults". Hey – where is the love? What happened to that safe secure feeling? Just because I disabled my electronic guardian angel, I get a critic?

I wish my burglar alarm could tell me the origin of my issues, or just where the open door and windows areNo, I'm not that crazy. I know what this message means. It will tell me if a door or window is open, so that if I were to set the alarm, it would go off. And whenever there is a malfunction, or a window or door has been open for a long time, it beeps and gives me a number code, so I know where the problem is.

I wish my burglar alarm could tell me the origin of my issues, or just where the open door and windows are. Recently, a close friend of mine died after a horrific bout of cancer and another close friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer. Why oh why do certain extraordinary people suffer? "Toxic thoughts toward G‑d, rooted in early disappointment of father figure. Press * to clear." Or this -"Negative judgment of someone not performing certain mitzvahs rooted in the misdirected disappointment in self for not doing same. Press * to clear." Or this -"Warning – excessive resentments over victim story. Too many locations to clear. See manual for override instructions."

Sometimes, I have to ignore the warnings from my burglar alarm. I can't clear the system because it's Shabbat, for example. Sometimes, I just get passive-aggressive, because I know it's wrong. There is no open window, you electronic moron.

There is a series of progressive consequences, however, for this failure to attend to my burglar alarm. If I ignore the warning messages for a certain amount of time (which seems not to be fixed and thus uncertain and unpredictable), the monitoring service starts to call. Sometimes, I have to ignore the calls, because it's still Shabbat. Sometimes I am not home and thus I have no clue.

My burglar alarm starts to have catastrophic thoughts. It imagines the worst. After another random period of time, during which my electronic guardian's anxiety does not get alleviated, one of two things happen - the installer will give me a call or the police will show up.

What if I could install a toxic thought alarm in my head that had a similar progressive sequence? A negative thought about someone's behavior generates a beep. If I ignore that and then generalize it into a story I make up in my head about the motives, etc. of that person, that should then generate a call from the monitoring company.

Not only does it seem like yesterday that I was berating myself for a particular offense, it probably really was yesterdayIgnore that as well and I am going with the story in my head in full swing now, and I decide that enough is enough and I will never be a victim of this type of behavior ever again from anyone, and after all, doesn't this person always do this, and since this person is making me suffer and ruining my life, which is totally unfair, it's only right to inflict a little pain on this person – for his or her own good and growth of course, because after all I have such insight into his or her psyche - and so I let it flyyyyyy.

Then the police show up, and I have to explain that there is no danger, that it was an over-reaction. I'm so sorry. "You see, Officer, I was triggered. Yes, I know. I was not living in the present. Yes, Officer, I was projecting from my past. Yes, of course I will be making a donation to the police retirement fund. Oh, I see, I'm still getting fined? Thank you, Officer, I look forward to receiving that in the mail."

The older I get, the quicker Yom Kippur comes around every year. Not only does it seem like yesterday that I was berating myself for a particular offense, it probably really was yesterday, as my offenses are so habitual it seems like it's just the way I am.

There is only one way to make it better, that is, to stop causing myself to suffer and to stop inflicting pain on others. I need to stop the incessant, relentless, persistent, inexorable, unremitting, ceaseless, interminable (I love my thesaurus) negative thinking that turns my brain into rotten mush, and then entwines itself into my heart and guts, that has me so aligned with its distortions that I do not even see the person in front of me, so that I only feel the cumulative rage of every stinkin' thing that was done to me, and I let fly a nuclear bomb, when a fly swatter would have sufficed. Or I could let the fly just fly away. Or maybe there's no fly at all but the fly of my imagination.

We are here to learn lessons. This is one school you can't drop out of or even try to get by with auditing the class. Think you can beat it by not studying, by not showing up? Your lesson will keep showing up, however, perhaps over many lifetimes. I know this only as a concept, a fairy tale that I want so very much to materialize into reality for myself – I know that I will feel that All is Secure only when I can trust G‑d and fear no one and nothing else. I know that I will be "cleansed of faults" when I can walk humbly before my G‑d, make my ego as dust and awaken to the true purpose of my soul.


Simply that.