In the biblical chapter, Ki Tavo, the Creator confers upon the Israelites blessings on Mount Gerizim and curses on Mount Ebal. Yet, precisely what is a blessing and what is a curse?
When we think of blessings, we automatically think of physical health, financial stability, positive relationships, marriage, success, happiness, and so on. A curse, we assume, manifests as difficulty, sickness, problems, etc. Is that so?
There is a story of a student of the Maggid of Mezritch, from around the 18th century. The student came to the Maggid and said, “I have problems with my finances, trouble with my wife, and I don’t know what to do anymore! Why is the Creator punishing me? What can I do?”
The Maggid replies, “Go to my student, Rav Zusha. He doesn’t have money, has torn clothes, lives in a shack, barely has enough food, and his wife nags him nonstop. He will be able to help you.”
Enthused, the man gets on his way. It takes him a few days to get there, but he is excited to finally to get some help from a man who has very similar problems to his own. He arrives and he sees that the Maggid was right, Rav Zusha’s home is rundown, and he already can hear the nagging of a woman who must be the wife. When Rav Zusha answers the door, the man can see that his clothes are not in the best shape. He tells Rav Zusha his story and that the Maggid of Mezritch sent him so he can receive help handling the difficult situations in his life.
Rav Zusha answers him, “I am sorry, the Maggid sent you to the wrong person, I never had a difficult day in my life!”
Both men were in almost the same situation, but living in completely different realities. One lives in curses and the other in blessings. How can it be? And for Rav Zusha it was the truth, he wasn’t faking it, like most of us do!
What is the difference?
Yes, the classic answer is, one was connected to the Light and the other wasn’t, but what does that even mean? How can we connect to the Light?
Rav Berg teaches that there is one thing alone that separates one person from another and their connection to the Light of the Creator. What is it?
Restriction is what separates boys and girls from the men and women and it determines how many blessings they have in their lives and how many curses.
In the month of Elul, it is more important than in most months to apply restriction. It doesn’t have to be a huge restriction, it can be a simple restriction.
Rav Berg gives us the most powerful tool—a simple way to apply restriction. What is it? Ask a question!
When something challenging happens, ask immediately, Why is that in my movie? When something good happens, Why did I receive this?
With these simple questions, you inject restriction right away and connect to the Light of the Creator. Without it, you can get lost in the playing field of Satan thinking bad things are punishment and the good you’ve received is because of your intellect, brilliance, or luck. Then you’ve already lost the game and it will be hard to get out of the chaos you’ve caused.
So simple, yet so powerful.
Try it in your own life this month. Apply restriction. When something challenging happens, big or small, stop and ask the question, Why is that happening? Why did that come into my life? What I am supposed to do with this situation?
If we truly ask, we will get the answer. Sometimes it takes a split second. And sometimes, for the bigger issues in life, it takes longer—even a few years, but the answer and the blessings will come.