"God is like a great coach who's training you for the Olympics," writes Rabbi David Aaron in this spiritual work based on his understanding of the Kabbalah. The metaphor continues: "He sets up a training ground filled with obstacles. That is His gift to you. He is really creating opportunities for you to jump higher. He also knows that the higher you need to jump, the harder you could fall. But that's the price you pay to enter the Olympics. You are bound to make mistakes and fail sometimes. But when you do, don't despair. It's all part of the process. Just try again, and keep moving forward. Don't spend your valuable time beating yourself up over the past, constantly bemoaning all the mistakes you made. Jewish tradition reminds us that great people make great mistakes."
Aaron organizes his thoughts around 13 basic soul-stretching questions which he answers with some very creative images and metaphors. The one above is part of the answer to "Can God make mistakes?" Some other questions are: "Why did a perfect God create such an imperfect me?" "Why do I exist at all?" "What does God want from me?" "Can I ever be good enough?" "What happened to all the miracles?"
Rabbi Aaron is a popular lecturer and founder of Isralight, a spiritual retreat center with programs nationwide and in Israel. He is the author of Endless Light: The Ancient Path of the Kabbalah to Love, Spiritual Growth and Personal Power. We are put on earth to serve God and others, he writes:
"If you struggle with the chaos within you and around you and turn it into order, then you are doing a great divine service. If you acknowledge your imperfections and the imperfections of this world, work hard, and rise to the challenge to fix them, then you are a vehicle for the expression of God's dynamic perfection.
"This is our human greatness. This is our mission of earth and service to God. We are human characters in a divine drama.
" 'Nobody's perfect' is precisely what's so perfect about everybody. However, this is true only when you use your imperfections as starting points for growth. If you don't, then you are not part of the divine process and God is not part of your life. You have forfeited the very meaning and value of your existence.
"This world is meant to be difficult, and your life on earth is meant to be a struggle, filled with adventure, challenge, and victory. And if you accept it, you will have the power to succeed."
Aaron succeeds here in doing what so many religious teachers have not been able to accomplish finding the words and images to convey that we all agents of God in an unfolding story orchestrated by the Holy One. As characters in the divine drama, we make mistakes but keep persevering as we try to do good and open our hearts to others. In another passage, he likens the world to a recycling plant where we turn garbage into usable products. (See the excerpt).
This is a very inspiring work on a subject that deserves more exploration. Rabbi Aaron has given us much to think about with his rich reservoir of fresh images. His advice is simple and sound: "God is living His secret life through you. Take a moment to contemplate, feel, and taste this delicious truth. Take a lifetime to live it and celebrate it."