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Sunday, 30 November 2014

Don't let life crush you

Daf Yomi Yevamos 57

Thank G-d, Alberta has a booming economy.  Our province boasts the highest levels of immigration in Canada and one of the highest in the world.  People are constantly moving to Edmonton for great-paying jobs both in the oilfields and in the ancillary industries. 

Sol and Marjorie packed up everything in Montreal to move out here for a fantastic job at the university.  They sold their house, moved their family and all their belongings, and started a brand new life in our city.  Sadly, six months into the position, however, research funding ran dry at the university and Sol found himself unemployed.

“I’m crushed,” he said to me, “I’m an unemployed academic with no transferable skills.  I quit my job in Montreal and now I have nothing.”

The Torah states, “One who is crushed or maimed [in his testes] should not enter the congregation of G-d.”

Rabbi Elazar quoted Rabbi Oshiya: May a crushed cohen who betrothed a regular Jewess but has not yet consummated feed her terumah (tithes)?  This question brings us to a debate between Rabbi Meir on one side and Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Shimon on the other.  According to Rabbi Meir, who holds that one who is awaiting a biblically-prohibited cohabitation (such as a divorcee, who may not marry a cohen) may not partake of the terumah, in this case too he would hold that she cannot partake. 

However, according to Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Shimon who hold that one who is awaiting a biblically-prohibited cohabitation may partake, in this case too, they would hold that she may partake.  Abaye explains: This case is similar to a situation where a cohen and a Jewess were completely married but then he became maimed.  As long as they avoid cohabitation, she may continue to partake of the terumah. 

Why may she continue to eat terumah as his wife if they are forbidden to one another?   The Talmud is teaching us that until he acts on his disability, he is not considered crushed.  Until then, he is a regular cohen.  Physically, he may appear to be crushed, but as far as the Torah is concerned, he only becomes crushed if he chooses to assume that status by acting on it. 

Everyone has their challenges in life, but you have the choice whether to assume the crushed status or to rise above your challenges.   Will you become crushed by the trials and tribulations you face or will you tell them you’re not going to let them dictate who you are?

Let’s say you are dealing with a terrible illness.  You have the choice: Do you assume the crushed status and consider yourself an ill person?  Or are you a healthy person that is fighting off an illness that you won’t allow to take over your life?

 Perhaps you have experienced some relationship setbacks, such as divorce or maybe you haven’t even been married yet.  You have the choice: Do you assume the crushed status and think of yourself as unmarriageable?  Or are you a great marriage partner who is looking to find the right person in life?

Maybe, like Sol, you have lost your job or your business is suffering.  You have the choice: Do you assume the crushed status and think of yourself as a financial failure?  Or are you a financially successful person dealing with a temporary downturn in the market?

The vicissitudes of life can become extremely debilitating if you allow them to dictate who you are.  You are not a crushed person.  You are a healthy, successful, loving person who is overcoming sickness, poorly-performing markets and unappreciative people.  You will rise above.  The forces of evil cannot crush you or hold you back from life!