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Thought for the Day: Your House is a משל to Your Marriage, Your Marriage is a משל to Your Olam HaBah

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I don't like the term "fulfilling one's mission in this world".  It sounds like our poor souls were sent into this world and given tasks to fulfill in order to prove ourselves worthy to reside with our Creator in His abode.  That's not Judaism; that's greek mythology: The Labors of Hercules.  The Torah/Jewish concept is that HaShem created us to live in eternal bliss and enjoyment.  We have additionally been given the opportunity to take some measure of ownership of our destiny and thereby elevate ourselves to actual partners in the Creation.

I recently heard two ideas that seem to me to be absolutely fundamental to achieving that exalted and laudable goal.  We live in a world with other people because HaShem desires not only individuals who are working to perfect themselves, but a community/nation whose national mission is perfection.  That nation is composed, of course, of all of those individuals building relationships with each other to achieve what no one individual can.  This can be as simple as two (or more) joining together to lift a box that is too heavy for any individual.  This can be as complex as two (not more), joining together to create another individual.

Here is the first idea: we as individuals have needs that can only be met with the help of others.  For someone like me, who is reasonably socially awkward, that is an ugly truth.  Not only is my success of failure dependent on others -- as when I can't do something alone.  But much more difficult is that my very life actually depends on me finding someone who wants to provide me what I am lacking.  This can be as simple as needing a computer at work; for which I need my manager to fill out a requisition.  This can be as complex as being married and needing intimacy.  I contrast those on purpose to make a point.  I shouldn't be more embarrassed/ashamed of needing intimacy than I am of needing a computer.  Moreover, if my boss doesn't see the need for me to have a computer, I need to work on explaining -- in a way he will understand -- why I do need it.  Neither yelling nor pouting nor incriminationing nor threatening will be very productive.  Need I say more?

The second idea: a relationship is like a house.  Something missing from the relationship is like something defective in the house.  Not having a big, new monitor is like not having a convenient waste basket in every room.  Ok, ok... I'll have to take extra time to walk to the waste bin in the garage, but it's livable and I can get my job done.  Missing something essential is like a big hole in the roof.  It is not a good idea to ignore a whole in the roof.  Even closing off the room that has the hole is not going to work for long.  After a few rains, the water will seep through the gaps in the walls to enter all areas of the house... I could end up with cockroaches in the kitchen.  Killing these cockroaches, while absolutely necessary, will also be a continuing source of frustration until you address the root problem: there's a hole in the roof.  If the problem isn't addressed, eventually the house will collapse.

I like this way of looking at relationships because it really focuses on dealing with the problems, and takes focus off fixing the other person in the relationship.  Why is that important?  (Besides the obvious, of course.)  Because each and every one of our relationships is given to us as a gift from our Creator to allow us to work on those dimensions of our soul that are not yet capable of fully enjoying the relationship that our Creator wants to have with us.

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