After Shabbat around 9 pm on February 19, the unimaginable occurred. I got… A citation! 👮♂️
It was at the end of the drive home when I was already in my neighborhood. The probable cause for stop was for a defective headlight, but the officer gave me a ticket for apparently failing to yield when they started flashing their lights.🚨🚔
Whatever the reasoning may be, I discerned the teaching of the Baal Shemtov in The Testament of the Baal Shem Tov Lesson 2-3 that, “whatever may happen, say ‘it comes from [G-d], blessed be He, and if it is proper in His eyes…” Since everything physical has a spiritual counterpart, then it’d be responsible to consider where in my life I had a “defective headlight” and was “failing to yield.”
When there is need for some course-correction, Life will send us some information in order to realign. Sometimes it can come through pain or something unpleasant, or it can come through insight and listening deeply within. There is a similar concept in The Code of the Extraordinary Mind by the Founder of Mindvalley, Vishen Lakhiani called kensho and satori, which must have been derived from the Japanese Buddhist tradition. Depending on how well we’re listening, the message may can be a whisper of satori; other times it may feel like a slap across the face of kensho.🤕🥊 Whether it’s getting an injury, over-stressing at work, or being in an unhealthy relationship, we may have all experienced these uncomfortable lessons. Similarly, albeit possibly less often, we may have experienced pleasurable moments of awakening where insights come to you and you know what action to take. The more we work internally on ourselves, the more often we can grow from insight rather than from pain. The painful moments are unpleasant; however, they are there as information to inform us of something - similar to learning from discomfort in last week’s newsletter. The best way to look at the situation is to ask, what is this here to teach me?
Getting a ticket was a clear unpleasant message to me. Before then, there was tension between wanting to go to a weekend retreat and taking care of the house and pets while my parents would be out of the country. Although the latter reason seemed silly to cancel an opportunity for growth, in talking to my Friend the next day, I learned that fulfilling this request of my parents was a greater opportunity. I didn’t need a retreat to learn the lesson most important to me now. Unfortunately (or not), this was learned after receiving a ticket!
Beyond introducing a way to perceive and grow from situations, how did I “test the mazal?”
Our great Jewish Sages taught that “when Adar enters, we increase our joy.” Adar is the Hebrew month, which as talked about in Find your Inner Drunk and Welcome it in, particularly for the the holiday of Purim, it is a month of great miracles, happinesses, and successes. It is a month whose “mazal (source of influence) is associated with strength and health” (An article in ChayenuPekudei). Our sages also teach that mazalos do not control our fate because we are greater than and not limited by spiritual influences, like that of constellations. For example, I remember hearing about and even taking comfort in mercury being in retrograde. These occurrences are not justifications for why we may feel off during that period (lol). Nevertheless, the concept of mazalos, like that of Adar being a propitious time for health and strength, can be tapped into by understanding why it is considered to have this influence. In other words, we can use influences while not falling victim to external influences i.e “oh I feel this way because of this or that” can be giving that thing power over you. Hence, the sages taught that anger is like idol worship because it is essentially saying “this person did this to me or this event happened” and that’s why I am angry. It is okay to feel angry, but know that you are not angry and that the anger felt is not because of that person.
In short, the mazalos do not have influence over us, but still can be “reflected in our actual material life.” Here’s the kicker: So much so that the sages counseled that when one has a legal dispute, “he should postpone the judgment until the month of Adar.”
That’s exactly what I did. This last week I had the court hearing. Although the citation was not completely removed (yet!), I trust in “Him to attain [my] desire” (Tzava'at Harivash #24) to dismiss the citation at no cost and take it off my record. Regardless of how it transpires though, I will continue to celebrate.
And so can you. When we celebrate Life, Life celebrates us!