Sometimes whether we like it or not it’s time to grow.
The spiritual calendar is has the next month, starting Thursday, designated as a time for growth against our will.
Against your will you are born
Nisan, the month the Israelites left Egypt, is a period of intensity that the sages look at like a birth. There were ten plagues, like contractions, that got steadily more intense, until the release of the trapped nation into the arms of the Infinite.
We also hear from the sages that against our will we are put into the world. The soul, that lofty ethereal part of us, wants only to remain one with the Infinite. Yet despite its protest, the Almighty sends it into this world to be born into a place of spiritual struggle. Why? Because through the struggle, the neshama (soul) becomes more independent and therefore more like God.
Do you want to grow?
Oddly, it seems that the majority of the Israelites did not want freedom; they wished to remain enslaved. Our tradition says that four fifths died during the plague of darkness. Only one fifth merited leaving. But even the other four fifths didn’t have the luxury of staying behind.
Sometimes whether we like it or not, it’s time to grow. Or else.
Yesterday I was wondering how to keep my son Yehudah at the same age for a while longer. He’s a fun kid, and I don’t know what he’s going to be like as he matures. Of course, this is a fantasy. He needs to grow and mature. That’s life. And I’m sure I’ll love him the same or more as he grows. But sometimes our lower self wants to hold on to a lower level.
We always need to ask ourselves if we are holding ourselves back from some type of spiritual growth that is the natural process of development, and is our next stepping stone.
Life is like an escalator that’s going slowly down. Our job is to go up. You can’t rest too long. You need to be putting in an effort to climb up to the next level. Once you get there you can pause, but then you must get back on the down escalator and climb up against the flow. If you stop climbing you are automatically going down. Maimonides writes that either you are learning, or you are forgetting.
If not now, when?
Part of our defense mechanism to many opposing forces is to push them off. This is an effective strategy sometimes with unwanted telemarketers or salespeople we’d rather not deal with at the moment. Tell them to call later or come back tomorrow and it might not be worth their time so they’ll leave you alone. But we also shy away from making decisions that are in our best interest. Its human nature to be more interested in holding onto what we have, rather than seek a potential gain.
In spirituality, we have no choice. If we don’t opt for the gain, we lose what we have.
We can’t say to Growth, “Come back later when I have more time.”