How do you win a gold medal at the Olympics? Is there a secret to being the best in the world?
This past week, a gold medalist diver explained how he would lie in bed and visualize over and over how his dive would go flawlessly. In the end, it played out exactly like the visualization.
This notion is actually found in the Torah and in Chassidic sources, and can even be seen in our parsha.
In this week’s Torah portion, Moshe tells the Jews about the land they will soon enter. He then reminds them about how G-d took them out of Egypt and “led them through this great and awesome desert.”
The land of Israel represents the ultimate redemption. It symbolizes G-dly reality. And yet, there is a great and mighty desert that stands in the way of entering the Promised Land.
A desert is devoid of most life and of human inhabitants. In spiritual terms, a desert is a place that seems to be devoid of G-d. This desert can seem great and awesome, which causes us to be afraid. The fear itself is the beginning of exile. A Jew in exile feels intimidated by their surroundings.
In reality, there is no place that is truly a spiritual desert. It may seem that way, but we know that G-d is there. It may not be apparent to us, but we have the ability to open our eyes to that reality.
Our job is to tap into the G-dly reality. Our fears and anxieties are a result of our perspective, when we view the exile being mighty and frightening. When we bear in mind that G-d is the one who created the world, and we remember that the exile is also part of G-d’s plan, we understand that the exile cannot impose an obstacle to serving G-d. In fact, we begin to see G-d’s hand guiding us and providing for us.
To paraphrase the Olympic diver, all we have to do is constantly visualize G-d’s reality, over and over again. We have to see the world from G-d’s perspective, that the entire exile is only to lead to redemption, and then we will see it play out that way in our own lives.
Dedicated in memory of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Schneerson ZT”L – Father of the Rebbe – Who dedicated his life to teach and spread Judaism in communist Russia, where he was imprisoned and passed away in exile on the 20th of Menachem Av