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Sometimes, the only way to achieve greatness is to quarantine, enter into 'caves', distant ourselves from the chaos of society, and immerse ourselves unreservedly in all that which is truly important: our souls, our loved ones, and our life-purpose. There, in these cave-like moments, we can maximize our time and our potential and achieve all that God expects of us. There, we can love without reservation; we can study without interruption; we can pray without distraction; we can care for without inhibition.

Rabbi Allouche

“This pandemic has forced us to make so many changes to our daily lives. But when it’ll be over, which changes would you keep going forward?” 

This question was posed during our riveting Q & A zoom session last night, which we hold each and every Thursday evening (at 7:30pm, here: https://zoom.us/j/182171484, and all are welcome!).

While I am sure we will all do our best to retain the many blessings that we have come to embrace during this historic era, I pray and hope that we will have the courage and wisdom to retain what, perhaps, stands as the most important blessing of all. 

Interestingly, this blessing is also drawn from the special holiday of LagBaomer coming up this Monday evening and Tuesday. This day marks the passing-anniversary, of one of our nation’s most imminent sages, and the author of the foremost book of Kaballah, the “Zohar,” Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who lived shortly after the destruction of the second Temple in the year 70 CE.

Due to Roman persecution, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his son were forced to quarantine (sounds familiar?) in a cave for 13 years. Upon their return to civilization, Rabbi Shimon and his son were greeted by Rabbi Shimon’s father-in-law, Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair. Seeing the devastating effects of the long cave-life on the health of his son-in-law, Rabbi Pinchas proclaimed, “alas that I see you so!”

But Rabbi Shimon was unfazed. And he replied: “Blessed are you that you see me so. For if you did not see me so, you would not find me so learned.” Rabbi Shimon was revealing that he could have never attained such a high level of wisdom and holiness, had he not spent so many years in the cave.

Rabbi Shimon’s words share a powerful, and eternal, truth:

Sometimes, the only way to achieve greatness is to quarantine, enter into ‘caves’, distant ourselves from the chaos of society, and immerse ourselves unreservedly in all that which is truly important: our souls, our loved ones, and our life-purpose.

There, in these cave-like moments, we can maximize our time and our potential and achieve all that God expects of us.

There, we can love without reservation; we can study without interruption; we can pray without distraction; we can care for without inhibition.
There, we can become “Rabbi Shimon’s” and leaders in our own right, and serve the world, with conviction and determination.

My only hope is that we will be able to re-create these cave-like moments and retain all of the blessings that they offer, even after God will finally heed our prayers and eradicate this pandemic from our world. 

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