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How to respond to the unknown

How do you respond to the unknown?

Whether it be an upcoming event or experience, the unknown can evoke emotions of fear or worry. Furthermore, there can be levels to the unknown. It could be one level to have a new experience coming up, but where you’ve seen what it will be like and you have some degree of preparation. For example, a person could embark on a new hike yet he knows what the terrain looks like, where he’ll stay, and so forth. Perhaps a greater degree of the unknown is when a person really steps out of what’s familiar. Using a similar example, a person could embark on a new hike, yet the terrain be unfamiliar to him. All he’s been told is general information that there’ll be a place to sleep and food to eat. Additionally, he was given reports which make the adventure sound rough and intense, similar to the mistake of the spies in the Torah portion two weeks ago. One can imagine the possible fear not solely in regard to a new trip, but also from learning little and being informed not-so-positive.

At the beginning of last week I decided I would take on a new experience of going to the Ohel for Shabbat. Each year on the 3rd of Tammuz, thousands of chassidim go to the Ohel to pray by the tomb of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. In short, a Rebbe is like the “Moses in each generation,” who’s presence and mission is to nourish the Jewish people with faith. A Rebbe is like the ultimate teacher who empowers his students to access their truest self and to live from that state. In Judaism, the gravesite of great tzaddikim is a very holy place as a level of his or her soul rests at the grave. Being in the presence of a great leader or his grave seems to evoke emotions otherwise hidden beneath the surface of one’s consciousness. The 3rd of Tammuz is the yahrzeit (anniversary of passing) of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Additionally, the 3rd of Tammuz is when the Friedeker (previous) Rebbe was released from jail and sentenced to exile in Kostroma in 1927. The 3rd of Tammuz is celebrated because it is the beginning of the process of his liberation 9 days later. The above only enhances the awe of being at the Ohel for a Shabbat.

In preparation for Shabbat last week, I was experiencing so much internal fear and uncertainty, it was overwhelming. Not only was this to be a new experience, but there were so many uncertainties that, to my brain and body, made the upcoming Shabbat appear to be anything but the day of rest and simple