Pinny Arnon

The Spark in the Dark

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

I have a confession to make: I do not enjoy marketing my book. The two years I spent writing it were pure bliss for me. Each day as I was engaged in the labor of transposing Torah’s precious wisdom onto the page, it felt like I was visiting the heavens and harvesting its priceless fruit. It was painstaking work, but it was incredibly rewarding.

Often, I would find myself in a meditative state and a full day at my computer would fly by – I would blink, and the blank screen in front of me would be full. Any writer, artist, or musician can tell you about those magical times when the work seems to perform itself, like you are merely a channel for something that needs to flow through you. I didn’t know how long it would take to complete the book, but it didn’t matter. I knew that I was doing my job, fulfilling my purpose, and that it would be finished when everything that needed to be written was there in the manuscript before me. I didn’t worry about whether it would sell, or how I would market it. I knew that if Hashem wanted it read, then it would find its audience.

And then the book was done. And it was time to publish it and sell it. And lo and behold the book did not simply publish or market itself. The labor to do so was once again painstaking, but unlike writing it, the business side has not been blissful. Rather than the heavens, I have found myself for the past six months very firmly on the ground. Not just on the ground, but in the trenches, as they say. Slogging through the mud. It has not been meditative, nor has it been fun. The obsessive focus on numbers, and audience, and ratings, and reach, and likes, and shares….

I have been blessed to interact with beautiful people who have bought the book and been moved by it. I have been gifted with incredibly generous feedback. Yet the focus on the business of selling the book has created a stress and tension in me that I am not proud of. Where is the intense emuna/faith and bitachon/trust that I experienced while writing the book? What happened to the serenity with which I faced every day, knowing that everything was happening just as it should and in its perfect time?

What I realized, this morning as I was davening, is that this is life. There are times when we are in the heavens, when we feel Hashem’s touch and sense His omnipresence; and then there are times when we fall to earth and sense the great distance between us and our essence. The trick, the goal, the secret, is to know that we are never far – that Hashem is down here in the trenches just as much as He is in the ethers. That though He may be more hidden here in the world of sales and marketing, He is no less present. Writing may be my sanctuary high on the mountaintop, but Hashem did not intend for us to have our heads in the clouds. He wants our boots on the ground, finding Him here and revealing His presence to all of those, like us, who have such a hard time seeing Him in the midst of the daily grind.

May it be Your will, Hashem, that we can see You in everything we do. May we have constant awareness of Your presence in the darkness. May we have the wisdom to know – to really know – that You are truly One and all, and that everything happens precisely according to Your all-knowing and all-loving plan.

About the Author
Pinny Arnon is an award-winning writer in the secular world who was introduced to the wellsprings of Torah as a young adult. After decades of study and frequent interaction with some of the most renowned Rabbis of the generation, Arnon has been encouraged to focus his clear and incisive writing style on the explication of the inner depths of Torah.
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