Lessons Learned Along the Way
YOU ARE NOT YOURSELF THIS YEAR
Do you ever wake up in the morning and wonder why you did something yesterday that you knew was wrong, but you were forced, either by yourself or by someone else, to do it? If you’re like most folks, you will answer: yes, there have many days like that. It waslike being in a trance from which you could not, or did not want to, escape.
Let's talk about the moment after. Suddenly, as if coming out of that trance, it's over. The addiction got what it wanted, the bubble popped and we are left feeling totally gypped. "What was there about that, that justified me letting it take over my mind and cut me off from reality, from myself and from God?" we ask ourselves. "Why do I let this insanity control me?" The minute it's over we can suddenly see clearly again. It is like being given back the gift of sanity. Like someone who was drugged up and placed in a crazy house, only to wake up the next morning and ask himself what he is doing there!
R' Nachman gives a parable. There was a country where all the wheat crop was poisoned that year. Everyone in the country ate from the wheat and became crazy. The doctors all said that the craziness would last for a full year. The wise king, who had his own wheat, did not become crazy. However, he decided that he too should eat from the bad wheat that year so he would be like his subjects and be able to understand and rule them. But the king wanted to remember that he was really a wise ruler and that he would return to his sanity after a year, so he made himself a special bracelet that he wouldn't be able to remove. On the bracelet he wrote the words "Remember you are not yourself this year."
The trick to protecting ourselves from the next time the insanity returns is to remember the way we feel afterwards, and to keep this memory fresh in our minds so we don't fall into the trap again. Perhaps we should even write ourselves a note about how we feel afterwards, and carry it around to read next time we feel the craziness returning...
The High Holy Days will soon be upon us, and we will once again have the opportunity to recall those times last year (and in years past) where we were entranced, when we knew we were doing something wrong, but were paralyzed from stopping. But just like the wise king wrote on his bracelet: “Remember you are not yourself this year.”
Rabbi Mel Glazer, D. Min.