4 Steps that Take You from Despair to Optimism
2-½ minutes to read
Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Bereishis – Genesis 1:1-6:8
My friend Bruce urged me to read Douglas Murray’s book The Strange Death of Europe. He told me it’s “probably the most important book of the last 50 years.” So, I read it. It may be the classic my friend asserts. But I found one glaring error. Time and again Murray asserts you can’t just have faith.
Clearly, he misunderstands the nature of faith. Many of us do.
You Pay a High Price for Faithlessness
“‘The Woman who You gave to be with me . . .’” (Bereshis/Genesis 3:12)
Adam lacked faith in Eve’s ability to resist eating fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. So he told her the Almighty commanded them not to touch it. By doing this, Adam made her easier prey for the serpent. It knew she could touch it without harm. The serpent convinced her to try. Once she saw nothing happened, she ignored the true constraint.
Then she gave some to Adam. And G-d caught him red-handed.
The Almighty gave them a chance to confess. But Adam compounded his lack of faith in Eve by blaming her. She, in turn, blamed the serpent. So the Almighty banished them. Now, instead of humanity living peacefully in the Garden of Eden, we struggle through life. We strive to create the kind of relationship with G-d that was the birthright of Adam, Eve, and their children.
What would life be like had Adam acknowledged his lack of faith and asked for forgiveness?
Faith Is Like a Muscle
Because of this grave error, Adam’s abiding faith goes un-noticed. Despite his doing no work to cultivate the garden, he knew G-d would feed and take care of him. Adam may have sinned out of boredom. Amidst the carefree life the Creator gave him, perhaps he wanted some excitement. Indeed, Adam had complete faith in G-d.
Adam’s lack of trust in Eve reveals a lack of faith in G-d. The Almighty gave him his mate. So she could only be for his good. Whatever decisions she made were part of G-d’s plan. For some reason, Adam didn't see this. Like most husbands, he needed time to develop faith in his wife and her judgment.
Dormant faith often masquerades as lack of faith. You’ll gain or recapture faith when you:
1. Review Your Life
Think about past events. Identify one when you felt secure and confident.
2. Identify Why
What made you feel safe and self-assured? Did you feel in control of the event and your life? In reality, you weren’t. Training only helps you feel confident you can respond to future challenges. But you’ll never know for sure what twists and turns are in store.
3. Recognize Faith
Minimally, you had faith in your ability to handle the unknowns of life. You may have had broader faith: in your family, your colleagues, or G-d.
4. Build on that Nugget
Use this event to fashion greater faith. When you feel faithless, call it to mind. Bring back how you felt. Repeat what you said at that time.
Faith is like a muscle. If left unused, it shrinks and becomes flabby. But when exercised it grows and gets stronger. You can just have faith. Most of our lives we don't perceive it because it fits with the flow of events. If we get sideswiped and don't find faith immediately available, we think it’s gone.
But faith is always with us. The more you exercise it, the easier it is to call back.
Have you lost faith and recovered it?
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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. Its name comes from the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.
Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!