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When the Going Gets Tough

The Torah tells us that the more the Egyptians afflicted the Jewish people, the stronger they got. This was a lesson for future history. Somehow, the Jewish nation has shown amazing resiliency when we were forced to suffer a long, bitter, exile. Despite the persecutions and hardships, the faith of the Jew carried him through these difficulties. Some of the most amazing books, such as the Talmud, were written during such times.

It has long been my contention that the biggest problem we have faced in the last thirty years or so, is too much leisure time, and too much money. As the work day has become shorter, people are left with too much free time. And the affluence of this past generation, gives many individuals extra cash to do what they want. The combination of the two has spelled trouble. It leads to an exaggerated self indulgence, that is often accompanied by depression.

Contrast this with our ancestors who worked extremely hard, and did not have these problems. They even managed to shine under the most difficult circumstances.
The Rabbis recommend that one fill his day with earning a livelihood and the study of Torah. This will save an individual from sin, as his day will be filled with a positive use of time. We need to create our own challenges that will make good use of our time, by giving to others. We will feel a sense of fulfillment that will give our lives meaning. It will prepare us for whatever Hashem sends our way. And if it looks like we are faced with insurmountable hardships, we only need to think of our ancestors in Egypt. The greater the difficulty, the stronger they got.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for more than twenty years. He has been teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach, Old Katamon, Jerusalem, for the nearly seventeen years. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles.