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Power Outage
by L'chaim Weekly
So it's eleven-thirty at night, you're having a cup of tea before bed, reading an article or maybe the latest issue of L'Chaim. Your spouse is doing the same; your teenager's listening to his iPod, and the little ones are in bed.

Crack. Pop. The lights go out. It's totally dark. A power outage.

Soon everyone's got a candle and is huddled in the living room. You call the energy company - your cell phone still has a charge - and find out they know about the outage and your power will be restored in a maximum of four hours.

You go outside. It's dark, for about a three block radius. The sky is clear - no clouds. What could have caused it?

You shrug, go back inside, and get the family settled. Two hours later, the power comes back on.

We've all had a similar experience, when the electricity goes out. Usually it's restored pretty quickly - unless some major wind, rain or snow storm knocked down power lines. Then the power outage could last a week. Or more.

When the power goes out, we realize a few things: how much we depend on the energy and light from electricity (no internet otherwise!), how sensitive we are to our comforts, how fragile the networks we depend on, and how much we need each other's support. (In the darkness of a power outage, everyone shares candles, flashlights, food and resources.)

There are times when we also experience a spiritual power outage, so to speak. We run out of energy and wander in darkness: we run out of energy for mitzvot (commandments), for Jewish studies classes, for prioritizing Judaism. And we wander in the darkness of doubts, questions, distractions and confusions.

Our Judaism goes dark.

How do we get the "electricity" back on? What are our spiritual "repair trucks," or "back-up generators"?

The answer is to study more, particularly Chasidic philosophy. Online, from a book, or best of all, with someone else - maybe ask your Chabad rabbi or rebbetzin to start a class.

But why Chasidic philosophy? Why does learning Chasidut turn our spiritual electricity back on? After all, there are many parts of Torah - the written text, including the Prophets and Writings, the Talmud, philosophers and legal codifiers. So what about Chasidut re-energizes us, gives us the strength to learn the other areas of Torah, to re-establish our networks, to feel secure in our comfort zone?

Chasidut, particularly Chabad Chasidut, teaches us about G-d, creation, the purpose of life, in such a way that we internalize it. There's a difference between understanding something, and getting it, seeing it, being charged by it.

Put a different way, Chasidut "powers us up" because it lets us see, see what's there - see the underlying spirituality within the world, within ourselves. It also gives us a sense of the essential unity of all Jews, of the soul-level on which we operate, usually so unconsciously.

Our lights, appliances and computers are vessels that can receive, and use, the electricity. But it has to be delivered. Our Torah and mitzvos are the vessels that manifest the spiritual reality within each of us. But the energy to get it done, to make the connection - that's delivered through Chasidut.



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