by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths
Dear Reb Gutman,
My friend suffered pretty badly at the hand of the Communists before finally getting out of Russia. I feel that growing up in the US in the 70's-80's was also a form a suffering…a suffering that could be defined as a desert, devoid of spirituality and meaning.
Today I am frum [Torah observant] and my wife and I primarily define our Chassidus through Chabad. My 70's-80's experience and my non-ending never fulfilled search for spirituality included a stint in Israel with a movement which bases much of its teaching on yashka (xianity) as the prime example of enlightenment, but also included buddha, and American Indian philosophy.
My friend told me that I must read the book by the guru of Central Park, Coming Back to Earth. So I went home and got it on my Kindle. Though much more extreme, your story and mine are not dissimilar. Yet, you sound happy - still on fire. You describe at the end of the book what got you to understand that place of happiness.
But, I still am left with wondering. You came to understand why you "needed" your "wasted time". I lived in Madison, New Jersey (USA) for four years of college and every time the Yeshiva boys asked me if I was Jewish my answer was “no” and I kept on walking. I lived in Israel for 9 years and I was in synagogue 3 times. One of those times was Masorti! (Conservative)
My wife and I came to teshuva (Torah observance) when I was about 42, and I am now 51. I have a phenomenal, deeply spiritual wife with whom I have grown only stronger in Yiddishkeit (Judaism) and two teenage daughters who were educated only in a Torah environment for the last 9 years.
But, in me, I still feel deeply that there is spirituality, but I feel a sense of loss and lack of meaning almost all of the time. Sometimes especially when davening!![praying]
I had intended to return to Israel after coming back to the States. We never did. My wife (rightly) could not leave her parents here and move to Israel. That too has left emptiness in me.
Hashem has clearly led you every step of the way to be the light that you are to all of the Yidden [Jews] you touch every day.
I know He led me, too. But I can't find the joy in where He has led me. I am a semi successful chiropractor in America living in a well-to-do frum [religious] community in the suburbs. I know that Hashem led me to these as well as gave me the amazing gift of my wife and daughters.
I would truly appreciate a small dialogue with you. Perhaps you might give me a Guru kick in the butt to see the light within the circumstances of my life. I'd like to succeed as I have seen you have succeeded in finding the meaning of your life. I'd love your guidance. My beard is getting very gray. I'm also moving up in the line of those who may have to come back to clean up the mess I made this time.
(Gutman responds) Shalom Zachary,
Really, and sadly, your story is quite typical… not so much of where you have been, but more so, where you are. Most briefly, the answer almost always (and I assume for you too) is to go help others. This is the quickest way to get most of what you are seeking. There is still more than even this, but this will bring you joy, purpose, fulfillment, appreciation, and a dozen or more other such benefits, almost immediately.
I have not yet met you, so I know nothing about you, but let me ask, how many times have you put on tefillin? Most likely almost 3000 times, and if you count your Rabbeinu Tam tefillin it will be twice that many times! Wow, that’s great.
But (and forgive me if I am wrong) how many times have you put them on someone else? Odd, but I cannot hear your answer. Let me know. Is it as many times as you have put them on yourself? Have you helped others to put on tefillin ten times more times than you have put them on your own arm? I do not think so, or you would not be having the problems that you have.
Do you only concern yourself with aligning your patients’ physical bones, or are you also concerned with their spiritual bones? One of my friends, from Florida, whose name is also Zachary, is an Animal Pharmacist, and he loves to blow the shofar (ram’s horn) during the month of Elul for his customers when they come into his pharmacy. He really enjoys helping them.
As I said, I might be wrong, but it sounds like paying attention to more than physical bone alignment, but also concerning yourself with others’ spiritual growth will solve most of your problem….
Sorry, if I misjudged you. Let me know.
Be well, Gutman