One night, when my oldest daughter Miriam was just a few months old, I was rocking her to sleep when – quite suddenly – I started to feel tingling in my body. It began in my right arm, then moved to my left, then to my legs, and then my tongue. In a flash, my entire body was tingling. I am not one who is prone to think of the worst possible scenario or run to WebMD at the slightest little thing. However, this was so overwhelming and strange that I panicked.
I called for Michael, and then together we called my teachers, who also happen to be my father & mother-in-law, the Rav and Karen. They could hear the rising panic in my voice almost immediately. At first we all approached the problem logically, discussing what it felt like, what it could be, and the whole time my panic was growing.
Mid-conversation the Rav cut in and said to me, nearly shouting,
“Monica! Monica! Fear is not an option. Do you hear me? Fear is not an option.”
The Rav was the strongest person; his determination and perseverance were like no other person I’ve ever met. To have the Rav on the other end of the phone telling me over and over that fear wasn’t an option stopped me in my tracks. The panic began to recede. Even at that time, though I maybe didn’t have the strong determination of the Rav, the fact that he had it for me allowed me to be stronger.
It has stayed with me.
After that moment and to this day, whenever anything truly frightening happens, I can still hear the Rav’s voice saying that, yelling it, actually. FEAR IS NOT AN OPTION! Fear doesn’t do anything, it doesn’t serve us, it doesn’t help us, it doesn’t change the situation, and it doesn’t alter anything. Fear feeds an already chaotic situation.
The Rav didn’t allow fear to be an option in his own life, either. I hear a lot of people talk about their dreams, wistfully, and then cite the reasons why they aren’t practical to pursue. To some degree, we all make excuses to let ourselves off the hook for not truly going after what we desire. We all have heard, if not used ourselves, justifications for complacency — there isn’t time, there isn’t money, it isn’t the right time, I’m too old. Not the Rav. Up until the age of 40, he was a successful and connected businessman. Then he met his teacher, Rav Brandwein, and didn’t look back. At 40, The Rav found his true path and had the fortitude to follow his desires and completely changed his life – and, as a consequence, the lives of millions of other people – by bringing the study of Kabbalah into the open.
This week marked the one year anniversary of the Rav’s passing. There is so much that I could say about this incredible man. He was such a powerful force for good in the world. I know in my heart that he continues his work in the upper worlds, perhaps even lending me determination and strength that I wouldn’t have otherwise.
THOUGHT INTO ACTION
Is there an aspect of your behavior that is fear-based? Are you making fear-based choices? Take a long look into the dark corners of your mind and look your fear squarely in the eye. Often, simply acknowledging the fear is enough to dispel it.
(As for the tingling, what happened, as it turns out, is that I had done an Ashtanga yoga pose I shouldn’t have done two days before, and had caused myself injury. It was temporary, and I was fine.)
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