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Embracing Flexibility

In the words of a Chinese proverb, "Tension is who you think you should be, relaxation is who you are." This teaching echoes across cultures and philosophies, emphasizing the importance of embracing one's true nature and letting go of rigid expectations. The Friedeker (Previous) Rebbe once shared a profound insight (Kuntres Alef 5693, p.560), highlighting tension as the ultimate enemy. But what exactly is tension, and why is it so detrimental to our well-being?

According to the Jewish wisdom, the Sages teach, "to be as soft and flexible as a reed, rather than as stiff and unyielding as a cedar" (Gemara Taanis 20). On my podcast, Jason Goldberg shared that resistance, often synonymous with tension, is the primary obstacle to personal transformation.

In our daily lives, we encounter countless tasks and responsibilities. While some level of routine is necessary, it's important to approach these obligations with ease, intention, and flexibility. Resistance breeds tension, creating barriers to growth and change.

Life, at its core, is a journey of embracing greater levels of flexibility; as the common saying goes "let go and let G-d." Yet, there are often areas where we resist flexibility, labeling certain aspects of our lives as non-negotiable. However, true flexibility encompasses all aspects of life, from religious obligations to family, from exercise to sleep, from work to leisure.

Discipline and consistency have their merits, but when taken to extremes, they can hinder our ability to live in a fluid and adaptable manner. Like the body and soul, structure and flow must coexist harmoniously for true growth to occur. In the words of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, author of the Zohar, "a mitzvah [commandent/connection] without kavana [intention] is like a body without a soul."

Consider the daily actions we engage in: sleeping, breathing, learning chassidus, praying, eating. While these actions are constant, there are countless variables within each one that allow for flexibility.

Limitations of time, duration, place, and tools can all be reevaluated to cultivate a more fluid way of living. Even the tools we use to center ourselves, such as meditation, prayer, or journaling, should be approached with mindfulness, lest they become crutches rather than aids.

Living in the unknown, with curiosity rather than fear, allows us to fully embrace the present moment. The Friedeker Rebbe on “Shema Yisroel HaShem Elokeinu HaShem Echad," shares that Elokeinu/our nature, both personal and collective, is HaShem, boundless and beyond the constraints of the material world (Kuntres Alef 5693).

Life is a dance of constants and variables, of embracing change while honoring the core aspects of our being. As Chabad Chassids, our mornings may be filled with rituals and routines, but it's the fluidity within these structures that allows for true growth and connection.

So, what are the constants in your life?

Take a moment to reflect on the rhythms and routines that ground you, while remaining open to the ever-changing music of life. After all, the only constant in life is change, and it's in embracing this truth that we find true freedom and fulfillment.

This is what it means that on Passover we left Mitrayim/Egypt. The word Mitrayim is derived from the Hebrew word Meitzar/limitations. We went out of limitations and embraced true freedom, seeing and experiencing the Infinite in the finite.

Wishing you a kosher and joyous Passover with true freedom.

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