5 Iyar 5781 / Saturday, April 17, 2021 | Torah Reading: Tazria - Metzora
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Spinning Their Wheels    

Spinning Their Wheels

Extremes don’t last. You can bet that a person who achieves a peak pleasure or excitement from any one of the above will lose it. Nobody stays on top for long…


What do drugs, alcohol, a lust for fast cars, risky investments, and high- intensity workouts have in common? In horror movies or stories of intense romantic love you’ll find it there too.


Still not sure what I’m talking about?  Another hint: people are pursuing it when they seek fame and stardom or even when they totally immerse themselves in religious activities. Getting warm now? In fact, there are zillions of examples of what I’m referring to because 99% of the people you know are living in at least a few juicy examples of what I’m alluding to. And actually, this thing is so prevalent in society today that it seems to be perfectly normal.


Did I make this too easy for you? I know you’ve already guessed it. The answer is that people are living in EXTREMES - that’s where they think they are going to find the maximum pleasure that life can offer, in extremes!  What would you think if I told you that this is one of the biggest mistakes of our generation?


Why? For starters, extremes don’t last. You can bet that a person who achieves a peak pleasure or excitement from any one of the above will lose it. Nobody stays on top for long. Nobody can always be the best or the most beautiful or the most popular.


But there are two more reasons to avoid extremes. One is that people can’t grow from extremes. Imagine trying to build a stable structure like a house on a foundation that is fleeting and temporary. Could you live in such a house? The third reason to avoid extremes and extremists is that they can never deliver the ultimate pleasure and sensationalized satisfaction that they promise. People don’t get any deep satisfaction from the extreme lows that inevitably follow on the heels of extreme highs. The fast-paced, constantly changing, over-stimulating and under-stimulating options that “normal” society offers people today will never bring wholeness, peace, unity and joy to the human soul.


There is a beautiful teaching from the Torah. There is a verse in which Hashem tells Elijah the Prophet to prepare himself to receive prophecy: “Go out [of the cave] and stand on the mountain before Hashem.” It continues, “And there was a powerful wind, destroying mountains and smashing rocks. [He was told prophetically that] Hashem was not in that wind. And after the wind was a commotion; Hashem was not in that commotion. And after the commotion was a fire; Hashem was not in that fire. And after the fire was a subtle, quiet voice." That's exactly where Hashem’s Presence was, within that faint whisper.


What does this tell us?


There's an old song from the 1970's named "Take it Easy"; it says, "Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy." People who are spinning their wheels running after extremes will never hear Hashem who speaks in a “quiet subtle voice” unless they are in a calm state. And where can you find calmness today? For most people, the answer seems boring, bordering on absurd – but the true answer is that calmness is found in the “harmonious middle”, the center, not the extremes. The center is almost always missing in today’s culture, but it is only there, in the center, where you can hear the “subtle quiet voice” of Hashem and align yourself with His timeless, eternal, and un-changing Light. This is what brings permanent joy and pleasure to people. This is what gives people the enduring grounded stability and consistency that enables them to grow.

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