The Joy of Transformation

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The Joy of Transformation

Kabbalah Centre
Outubro 2, 2014
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The idea of transformation is tied to notions of struggle, loss and heartache. We seem to believe that true change must come with tremendous pain in order for it to be significant and lasting. Case in point: our culture regards the teen years—a time when we test the waters and become adults—as some of the most difficult years in our lifetime.

As we head towards Yom Kippur, transformation is foremost on our minds. What old habits should we break? What negative thoughts should we erase? We can face transformation with sighs, bemoaning the rough road to a better life. Or we can see these turns in our life path as joyful opportunities to embrace life. Kabbalists choose joy.

Finding joy in challenging times requires that we alter the way we think, feel, and live. Our life path brings us all kinds of twists and turns. It seems the more challenges and hardships we encounter, the more we come to see them as inhibitors to finding lasting fulfillment when, in fact, it is precisely these experiences that clear the way for joy to enter our lives.

According to the Zohar, we are never far from the Light. In fact, more Light is available to us during Yom Kippur than at many other times of the year, although, the process of breaking old habits and ending negative behavior can be a struggle, making us feel that we are further from it. When we realize that this experience is an important part of the journey, we can let go of uncertainty and feel joyful throughout.

Consider the following kabbalistic tale.

Just before Rosh Hashanah, the Baal Shem Tov arrived in a new town. He was told that the local rabbi also acted as the cantor. “And how does he conduct himself during the prayers?” the Baal Shem Tov asked. The townspeople told him that their rabbi preferred to sing the long confession to the tune of cheerful songs. Immediately, the Baal Shem Tov called for the rabbi.

When the two men finally met, the Baal Shem Tov inquired about the meaning of this custom. The town’s rabbi answered, “If the lowliest of a king’s servants - whose task it is to rake away the filth from the gutters of the royal courtyard - loves his king, then as he works, he sings with joy out of the sheer pleasure he derives from making him happy!” To that, the Baal Shem Tov replied, “If this is what you have in mind while you are at prayer, would that my lot be at once with yours!”

We each have the potential to live joyfully like the rabbi in the story, to take challenging moments in life and spin them into times of great joy. The key to finding joy throughout Yom Kippur, even while facing your greatest flaws and transgressions, is having certainty in the Light of the Creator. Yom Kippur is our chance to face the negativity in our lives, let it go, and begin the New Year with happiness.

Approaching Yom Kippur with certainty does not mean events in the New Year will unfold exactly as we want them. Yes, blessings await us, but having certainty means knowing that the Light is guiding us in the right direction, even if it feels like we have veered off the beaten path. No matter where it takes us, we won’t be lost.

Yom Kippur is about identifying negativity in our lives, extinguishing it, and transforming into better versions of ourselves. If we enter this time of year with uncertainty, we are more likely to have a painful experience as we cut away the negative parts of ourselves. “Our true destiny is not the pain and suffering that can seem so pervasive in the world,” says Michael Berg, “but a joy and fulfillment beyond imagining.” Certainty in the Light of the Creator clears the way for happiness as we pass into the New Year. Approaching the holiday knowing that we will be getting what we need at this moment allows us to find peace in the process and embrace joy.

The real miracle begins when we turn off thoughts of uncertainty. When we can find Light in the darkest of times, we embrace joy. There is a saying Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly. We must remember that even when we feel cloaked in darkness, the Light is always within reach, and blessings lie just beyond the struggle.