The Gift of Perspective


By Rabbi Yehoshua (Shui) Rosenblum

A man once came to the Magid of Mezritch with a question. “Rebe! What is the meaning of the teaching of our sages that says a person must bless G-d for the negative as he does for the positive? “Visit my student Zushe and he will clarify your doubt.” So he looked up Reb Zushe’s home.

Reb Zushe lived a life of extreme poverty. This was obvious by just observing his “house,” some boards knocked together with almost no furniture. When he arrived and saw the misery that Zushe lived in, he was almost ashamed to approach him, but the Rebbe had instructed him to do so.

“Honorable Reb Zushe, your master, the holy Magid sent me here to ask you a question.” “Please ask my friend,” replied Zushe. “What is the meaning of the teaching of our sages that says a person must bless G-d for the negative as he does for the positive?” “Are you sure the Rebbe instructed you to ask me, Zushe, this question?” “Yes, I am sure,” replied the man. “How strange that the Rebbe should send you to me,” mused Reb Zushe, for Zushe has never suffered from anything negative in his life. How would he know? The man walked away with his answer.

Perspective is one of the great gifts that G-d gave us. While He didn’t give us control over what would happen to us, He did give us the tool to elect how we perceive what happens to us! If you allow yourself to become a victim of life’s events, you become extremely vulnerable, like a leaf in the wind. You depend on the cards life hands out to you. As long as things are going your way you are fine; you are content. But when circumstances become difficult, not going the way you had planned and expected, it can be a disaster, and affect you in a most terrible way; you can’t come to terms with what has happened to you. Can you really control that which happens to you? It is only when we realize that we can change the way of perceiving things, that we take control of our lives. The Torah allows us to glimpse into G-d’s vision of the world, enriching us with a Divine perspective, enabling a fresh, new, and profound way to perceive life situations. We just need to become acquainted with the Torah perspective and then we take control of our lives.

It is quite common to hear the complaint: “Shortly after I started doing a good deed, something negative happened in my life.” For although it is true that in the long run, if you do the right thing good things should happen to you, and many times we even perceive this to be the case, there is no guarantee that you will see immediate positive results to positive behavior, and yes, you might even experience something negative; for the ways of G-d are beyond our understanding, and the process of life which allows us to grow is as long as life itself.

Torah has the power to mold our thoughts, and over time, gives us the ability to view life’s events through its magnificent prism. This perhaps is one of the most potent and relevant aspects of our multifaceted and everlasting Torah. It turns out that it is much more than a history book or even an inspirational or spiritual guide. It is the way we begin to see life from G-d’s perspective. In our spiritual journey of growth, G-d does not guarantee an easy ride, but He does guarantee that by connecting ourselves to His perspective we will certainly perceive that which happens to us differently, and ultimately this is the greatest blessing of all. May we be granted the blessing of perceiving only positive occurrences in our lives.