When the Blaming Doesn't Stop
What should a person do, if no matter how much praying he does, he just can’t seem to stop himself from pinning the blame for his problems on other people?
by Dr. Zev Ballen
What should a person do, if no matter how much praying he does, he just can’t seem to stop himself from pinning the blame for his problems on other people? Since a person like this still believes that his problems are coming from people, he is missing the truth which is that his problems are being sent to him from the Creator to help him to improve himself - he doesn’t yet have even the most basic level of emuna – but he shouldn’t despair – as we’ll see, even this is a loving gift from the Creator.
Someone can make prodigious effort at self-improvement for years and still not achieve basic emuna. The first thing that such a person must know is that the Creator certainly loves him, and wants to help him to strengthen his faith and bring him closer to Him. There are plenty of times that a person earnestly toils on a daily basis to implement Rabbi Arush’s guidelines for developing level-one emuna but continues to think, with his intellect, and not his emuna, that the source of his trials and tribulations are coming from natural events and other people. This person can still develop complete emuna, but they might not advance without the right spiritual guide or emuna coach help them to grow in humility.
A person whose emuna is not growing stronger must recognize that there is still arrogance inside of him that needs to be uprooted. Since humility, which is the opposite of arrogance is a necessary prerequisite for emuna, the person’s main effort must be to see his “smallness” in relation to Hashem and other people. Arrogance is not only the root problem of a person who lacks emuna but it is the root problem of all emotional and psychological “disorders.” An arrogant person tries too hard to take charge of his life, and ends up losing control altogether; deep down no matter how much he prays, G-d can see that he is refusing to believe that G-d Himself is all powerful. (The Garden of Knowledge, p 17.) Humble submission to Hashem – the opposite of arrogance – is the key to learning emuna.
Ever since the primordial snake (the Evil Inclination) told Adam and Eve that they could be like G-d, there has been a part of all of us that is actually competing with G-d! To varying degrees we all have a part of us that thinks that we are entitled to get our way; that it’s okay to exert our power and influence over others and to seek to control what’s going on in our lives. This part of us is incensed when others want us to yield to their opinions and relinquish our control. It follows that the more arrogant a person is, the more that he’ll refuse to yield to the Creator and relinquish control to His rule and His will. (Garden of Knowledge, p. 37)
So how can someone who is stuck in his or her spiritual journey begin to ascend the ladder of humility? Rabbi Arush writes about four rungs of humility which I will discuss more at length in the coming weeks.
Let’s start now with five simple exercises based on Rav Arush’s teachings that help us to reach what he calls the first rung of humility. The first rung of humility is accessible to most people, because it is relatively easy to see how small we are in relation to the Creator.
- Compare your size to the size of the Atlantic Ocean or the Rocky Mountains.
- Imagine how the Atlantic Ocean or the world’s greatest mountain range is but a tiny portion of the planet earth.
- Imagine how the earth is just a minuscule part of the Solar System.
- Consider how our sun – the nucleus of our solar system is only a very small star among billions of other stars.
- Contemplate, for a moment, how our galaxy – the Milky Way – is only one of billions of other galaxies.
- Yet all these endless galaxies are creations of Hashem and belong to Him.
- Can you even fathom the vastness of Hashem?
- Now say to yourself: “I’m only a tiny creation; I’m certainly not G-d...the Creator runs the world not me!”
Consider the following very carefully:
- Who decided who your parents would be?
- Who decided what type of home you were born into?
- Who decided how many siblings you grew up with (a few or a dozen)?
- Who decided your health status - how healthy or sick you are?
- Who decided what nationality you would grow up with.
- Who decided if you would grow up rich or poor?
- Now ask yourself: If you don’t determine even these most basic things in life, who do you think really runs the world?
- Consider a person who takes very good care of himself – he exercises, eats heathy, doesn’t smoke or drink. Yet we hear of people like this who suddenly find himself with an incurable disease.
- There are people who are overweight, out of shape, drink, smoke or even take drugs who live long lives.
- There are intelligent, talented, wealthy people who end up losing all their money.
- There are average people with little talent and intelligence who make lots of money in a very short time.
- Now consider how significant we are compared to Hashem who determines all these things and much more.
- Remembering our insignificance is conducive to humility.
Consider the following:
- Could you praise G-d if He didn’t give you a soul?
- Could you fulfill the commandment of putting up a mezuzah if G-d didn’t give you a house?
- Could you build a Sukkah if G-d didn’t give you a place to build it?
- Could you have children if G-d didn’t give you a husband or a wife?
- Be aware of the simple truth - everything comes from G-d.
- Every mitzvah is a free gift from G-d plus He rewards you for doing it!
So if level one emuna is still evading you, don’t worry about it. Instead, start today to develop level one humility which is the most important personality trait that you ever need in your life and an absolute prerequisite for anyone who wants to live a life of emuna.
In addition to the above exercises, Rabbi Arush recommends that you read calmly and contemplate the following verses on a daily basis:
- And you shall remember Hashem, your G-d, for He has given you the strength to succeed” (Deuteronomy, 8:18)
- “You shall know this day and take to your heart that Hashem is G-d in the Heavens above and on the earth beneath, there is no other” (ibid, 4:39)
Dr. Zev Ballen, Psy.D. has been a practicing psychotherapist for more than 30 years. He is the founder and developer of Emuna Therapy, a faith-based method of counseling based exclusively on the teachings of Rabbi Shalom Arush. Dr. Zev has the endorsements of Gadolei Yisrael such as the Nikolsburger Rebba, Rabbi Yitzchok Fagelstock, Rabbi Shalom Arush, and Rabbi Lazer Brody. You can write in with questions to Dr. Zev at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can call him at: 845-362-8600 (US) or 054-840-9499 (Israel). Dr. Zev resides in Jerusalem, with his family, where he learns in Rav Arush’s Kollel and maintains a part-time private practice. You're also welcome to visit Dr. Zev's personal blog, Emuna Therapy.