On the mystical side of our tradition, our teachers tell us this world comes into being with a balance of light and dark.
The Light of Being is infused into every part of this world, but at the same time it is hidden from us, concealed.
The light is called “Kedushah,” holiness.
The concealment is called “Kelipah,” which means a husk, a shell, a covering, like the thick skin of an orange. The peel.
Both always come together, the light and the husk which hides it.
In this way light and dark stay balanced.
Duality stays dualistic, two sides, pro and con, up and down, positive and negative.
Each pair is positioned on either end of a continuum.
We stand in middle and feel like we have a choice between the two.
This is the basis of free will in duality. We choose the right or the left.
We are meant to work with the concealment.
Like with an orange, you work to peel off its shell before you reach the fruit, the sweetness inside. You must go beyond the mundane, the concealment, to reach wisdom.
Many aspects of life are like this. You must get past some difficulty, some negativity, to reach the light.
Sometimes a great soul comes to earth, but their great light is hidden by difficulties, concealed in a thick shell of trouble or negativity.
Many generations ago in the Hasidic lineage, Rabbi Simcha Bunim was a great master filled with holiness, vast knowledge and wisdom. He was greatly respected.
His student, Rabbi Yitzhak, was also grounded in wisdom and already had some of his own students. But he continued to learn from Rabbi Simcha, bringing the students along.
Sometimes Yitzhak and his students went to another city to learn from a master rabbi who was intensely argumentative. He was a master, yet his belligerence was his kelipah, the dark shell around him.
Not only that, he often said terrible things about Reb Simcha. Big insults. Yitzhak knew these were untrue and unfair. But Yitzhak didn’t fight back.
Yitzhak’s students asked him, “How can you sit and take it while he insults your master teacher again and again? Why don’t you stand up for Reb Simcha?”
Yitzhak then told them a story of an unfortunate event in his life.
He was walking through a town where he knew no one, and no one knew him.
But a man stopped him and said accusingly, “You’re the one!”
Other people gathered around, examining his face, pointing at Yitzhak.
They said, “Yes, that’s him! That’s him! He’s the guy! Grab him!”
Yitzhak had no idea what they were talking about.
It turned out that they thought he was the man who had abandoned his young wife in that town, the man who had run off many years before. They “recognized” him as that terrible guy.
Yitzhak sat before the Rebbe of that town and explained himself. Thankfully the Rebbe understood and accepted his side of the story. They let him go.
It was a case of mistaken identity, Yitzhak told his students.
He said, “I was not angry that day, but confused. In the same way I don’t feel angry with this teacher for insulting Reb Simcha, because obviously he doesn’t even know him. To be talking like that about him, I’m sure he knows nothing about him.”
Reb Yitzhak was also following the sage advice from the Talmud, which says that when you keep silence, you become an agent for wisdom, “Chochmah.”
Joseph is another expression of Chochmah through silence. Wisdom through silence.
Joseph was born as a great light in the world, but his brothers cast him into slavery. They threw him into concealment, into the pit.
He became a servant in the house of Potiphar, and when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him, he patiently kept silence. He was an agent for wisdom. He was a light.
But again he was cast into a pit, into the dungeon, concealed in darkness.
The thing about Joseph was that no matter what happened to him, he carried a lot of light.
People could simply see that God was with him. Even non-believers had to admit, everything kept working out for him. Even they would say, God is always with that guy.
You know the story, the wine steward and the baker were also imprisoned. When they each had a powerful dream and needed help to understand it, they went to Joseph. This was their obvious choice – ask the guy who is so connected to God.
Joseph interpreted their dreams accurately, and eventually he advised Pharaoh himself, interpreted his dreams, and saved Egypt from impending famine.
Did Joseph lash out in anger against the events that befell him?
No, he maintained his patience and his wisdom.
In the same way Rabbi Yitzhak shows us how to turn away from anger, no matter what the insults are.
These are Isaac’s words from Chapter 1 of Volume 4, Walking The Bridge: With Courage And Trust.