Guest post by Akiva Landsman
There’s small questions like “When did I set my alarm for?” or “What should I eat for lunch?” We don’t spend too much time worrying about these.
Then there’s bigger questions like “Does he love me?” or “Will I get along with my mother-in-law?” These are a good deal heavier and we’ll spend nights wondering about them.
And then there’s the questions that sound like “If I don’t believe in God right now, why should I keep praying to Him?” or “Do I have the courage to believe in spite of this?” or “Can God really save me from this hot mess that I find myself in?”
Now those last questions are something, right? Those questions usually take the longest to answer. Sometimes we’re too afraid to ask them. What if the answer will make me change my lifestyle or drive a wedge between me and my family? What if the persona that I’ve spent the last 5, 10, or even whole life trying to become is actually disingenuous? Will people call me a fake or flippant? How will my significant other take the news?
Now this is some heavy stuff, right? Well these kind of questions come up in life. The Ishbitzer rebbe talks about Abraham’s big question: “is there a master to this universe? Is there someone pulling the strings behind the scenes? Or is the world burning and burning without an end in sight?” This is the question of discovery, which is undoubtedly relatable to all of us seekers. He had to leave his entire family and change his lifestyle because of his answer.
Now the big novelty that the Ishbitzer brings down is that Abraham’s question was placed in his heart by the almighty Herself. It wasn’t some random computation in his mind that put Abraham in the path of spirituality. It wasn’t because he read the Alchemist or spent a year in yeshiva. It was God’s doing.
Far be it for me to encourage my readers to believe they are hearing the word of God whenever a looming, dramatic question is posed. I don’t know if you’re a prophet. What I will say is that somewhere in these deep, painfully personal questions that may feel weighty and uncomfortable at times is the Truth pulling on your hair and untying your shoelaces. It’s the Truth that’s itching to be set free, and when we face these questions with honesty and courage, it’s the Truth that can’t help but escape. And the Truth that we find, well, that’s God’s language.
Abraham faced his truth and got uprooted, but he also discovered a faith powerful enough to last millennia and inspire the world. The question is, what is your truth?