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Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “What does a crisis accomplish?”

What does a crisis accomplish?

It breaks the iron curtain and allows a person to feel.

Many people in the world act, speak, go through the motions of life yet are in a state of anomie, unable to truly experience either love of others or love of God.

They are unable to experience fear, whether the fear of others or the fear of God.

They conduct the entire cycle of their lives on one plane.

Such a person comes and goes, enters a scene and leaves a scene.

Things in his life are constantly changing, but he never has a genuine experience.

Only a crisis can challenge such a state.

Only then is a person open to the possibility of relating.

From the moment that he experiences his pain, he can begin to experience the entire world.

In the end, perhaps, he will see the world as it is and people as they are.

But prior to that, behind the iron curtain, his relationships are mechanical, without a true connection between himself and others or between himself and God.

But after the crisis, he is like a person who has suffered a burn.

As the old skin peels, he begins to feel with the new skin.

Although he feels pain, he has pleasant sensations as well.

A new sensitivity has been created, open to everything.

Unlike the tenets of several optimistic philosophies, it seems that it is more difficult to arrive at authentic feeling through positive experiences than through negative ones.

This is not a pleasant thought to contemplate, but negative experiences are more effective in piercing the iron curtain.

Positive experiences only increase a person’s self-satisfaction (for they indicate to him that everything is well and that he can proceed as he always has).

But a negative event, a crisis, arouses him.

Because it is difficult, because he cannot bear it, he is forced to change.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz