“I have many questions but I have no doubts!”These are the words the recent widow of my dear first cousin, Benny Wolf, of Hanover Germany who was taken from us tragically early due to complications related to COVID. . Her name is Shterny Wolf and she is one of my new heroes. I could in fact stop this article right here and it would be complete because in the wake of such a truth not much more needs to be said.
In one sentence she encapsulated the journey of humanity in the most pithy but perfect way. I have many questions but I have no doubts. Isn’t that all of our story. Thankfully, most of us don’t need to pay that herculean price that she paid to to be able to authentically state this truth. Most of us have lesser problems than she had endured but we all feel this truth.
This is true regardless whether we have big T or small T trauma but we all have trauma’s that generate these questions. Dr. Edith Eva Eger stated. “There is no hierarchy in pain.” Each one of us endures our pain . Our pain is the most real to us. We don’t compare our wounds, we just share the pain of our independent journeys.
Questions in and of themselves are good. We are the Jewish people. We are Yisroel, we wrestle with the Divine. That is, literally, our name. Questioning is fine, getting to a space of “I have no doubts” now that requires deep work.
It is easy to be in pain. Frustrated, asking why me, or woe unto me, but taking that pain and bedding it with the knowledge that this too is for the good, or “I have no doubts,” now that requires inner strength. Fortitude. Or a connection that is so deeply ingrained that your questions don’t knock you off your pedestal of complacency that doubts don’t creep their way in.
I read a deeply moving commentary on a verse in this week’s Torah Portion, Beshalach, by Rabbi Shais Taub.
We read in the Song of Az Yashir, that the Hebrew sang after they passed through the sea of reads, and they stated,Exodus 14:2, זֶ֤ה אֵלִי֙ וְאַנְוֵ֔הוּ אֱלֹהֵ֥י אָבִ֖י וַֽאֲרֹֽמְמֶֽנְהוּ This is my God and I love him, this is the God of my fathers and I exalt him. On the most simplistic level this means, this is my God as I accepted him for myself, and this is this is the God as I understand him as was taught to me by my parents. In other words, there is the God that I know that I was brought up with and trained to know and believe in, and there is the God that I know that is MY God. The God that I got to know through my journeys and experiences.
From a chronological perspective it would seem that the God that my parents taught me should precede the God that I discovered on my own, via my own challenges and journeys. Yet if you look closely to the order as laid out in the text it begins with my God and only then the God of my father’s.
Embedded here is a very very deep message in the world of recovery which is essentially the truth that we all share.
First I must experience God as MY God. Not that he is limited or subjected to the inherent limitation of my understanding, but for Him to be real He has to be mine. Even if I am not understanding or portraying Him in His entirety, he still has to become mine first.
Only then can I fully experience and appreciate that he is both the God of my ancestors, and then, even that which I thought I understood as I was growing was oh so much deeper. My parents taught me what they thought I could comprehend. That built into my fabric and DNA a depth of blind faith in God that was what was possible at that time.
When I accept and recognize or discover God as my own, then the fullness and depth of what my parents tried to incorporate into me becomes so much larger and fullness of what they meant when they taught me about faith in God becomes exposed.
It is in that space only, after I’ve journeyed and discovered God as my own, I can be in a space where I have questions but still have no doubts.
RECOVERY – Part 4