• Rachel Shifra Tal

It is all how you look at it


To put oneself out there to love, to open ones heart is to risk loss. Without the heart wide open, one cannot truly love


Life is a lens. It is how we look at it, that is how we see our lives, through the lens.


These past few days have been intense and overwhelming. I got a phonecall from my husband and for 20 of the longest seconds of my life, there was a moment I didn't know if any of my children were alive or ok.


Baruch Hashem, they are all ok. Not just ok, but miraculously ok! The experience got me thinking about all the other challenges in my life where tragedy struck.


I truly believe that Hashem never gives a person more than they can handle. I have had moments where I definitely wanted to tell GD to give me a break! In fact as Rabbi Sacks point out in his tremendous book about leadership, the Jewish people are encouraged to argue with GD! This is such an incredible insight! Argue with GD!? Aren't we supposed to just accept everything sent to us with love? NO! Not in the least!


We learn from Avraham as he argues with GD to save Sedom and again with Yona and Nineveh! Right on to Moshe who gets right up in GD'S face!


I love that level of Jewish Chutzpah!


So back to the lens. There are so many tracks one can chose when choosing a lens. I have a dear friend that hers is always, Gam zu letova, whatever Hashem sends is for the best.


I can't quite fit that one on! Could be the untamed part of myself that will never conform!


Yes yes! Back to lenses!! I have tried a few on for size and one seems to really fit each and every challenge.


What am I here in this situation to learn? How am I supposed to respond? What do I have the ability to do?


How to respond. Esther Yungreis wrote an epic book called Life is a test. Life truly is a test! As soon as we can figure out the test the most helpful wisdom that inspires me is what is in my control? My response. My response is in my control.


So step one. Realizing it is a test. This past few days when I got the call, it took me about 6 hours to remember this step. This is not in my control. My control is only and always, how can I respond?


Focusing all my effort on that was my work. I needed as AA aptly says, let go and let GD.


When we step back and just live in that moment, on purpose, paying attention and doing our work, our response, the magic occurs.


Feeling fear, dread and all the emotions are totally ok, except the work is to see them in perspective of what we can control. When we feel overwhelmed and blown over, we are trying to do GD'S work! When we let go and let GD, I must say, GD is actually pretty good at doing the GD part.


When Hashem made the world it is said that Hashem pulled back to make space for the universe as it were. We are talking about a concept outside time and space, yet that concept is crucial for the secret to letting GD in. We need to leave a space too.


There is no guarantee we will get what we want. There is no guarantee that if we pray our prayers are answered. Letting go and letting GD isn't a give up. It is this space we create.


Living is risky, painful and it is because of that ability to lose everything that gives us the opportunity to truly live. We can do our hishtaldut/our part then let GD.



My father and I share a love of sailing. There is a concept that you harness the wind to go the direction you want, however there are times you must pull down the sail and let yourself go wherever is needed else you will capsize. May Hashem give you wind in your sails and support you and hold you close when you must drop them.


I will end with my all time favorite poem. I bless us all that we can have the strength to make space for the Divine.


One night I dreamed a dream.


As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.


Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.


For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,


One belonging to me and one to my Lord.


After the last scene of my life flashed before me,


I looked back at the footprints in the sand.


I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,


especially at the very lowest and saddest times,


there was only one set of footprints.


This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.


"Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,


You'd walk with me all the way.


But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,


there was only one set of footprints.


I don't understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me."


He whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you


Never, ever, during your trials and testings.


When you saw only one set of footprints,


It was then that I carried you."

©2020 by Wellington Jewish Community Centre.