In my work as a professional counselor (my side job) I sometimes help people suffering with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). This diagnosis indicates excessive anxiety or worry more days than not for at least six months, which the person finds it difficult to control, accompanied by symptoms like restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbance. In short, if equanimity is menuchat hanefesh, rest or calmness of soul, GAD is the opposite, restlessness of soul.
Equanimity—what’s so great about it? Aren’t we supposed to be passionate, fired-up, and zealous for what’s right? Isn’t the problem among Yeshua-followers, at least in the western world, that we’re too complacent? And if that’s so, what’s the difference between equanimity and complacency?
At the tail end of parashat Balak we read of one of the most violent incidents of the Jewish people’s journey in the desert. In spite of all that had transpired up until that point, the people were still drawn to idolatry of a most heinous kind: the idolatry that objectifies the other (divine and human).
As I write this my beloved wife is on the other side of the country for a weekend women’s retreat. It is a Friday afternoon and my awareness of the coming Shabbat seems to be elevated in her absence. The many things that I take for granted come to the forefront of my mind as those responsibilities shift to me this weekend. The Shabbat is a wonderful thing for a family in this modern age of busyness and distractions. The Shabbat comes whether we are prepared or not and can often be a great challenge to glide into smoothly.
God's final test for Avraham was the most unsettling of all the 10 tests. God's request that Avraham sacrifice his son and give up his future went against the most fundamental traits in his personality. What was Avraham known for? Radical hospitality. Our tradition teaches us that he and Sarah were the embassadors of kindness among all the people they sojourned with. Of our ancestors, he and Sarah were the embodiment of chesed (kindness). The tragedy of Avraham and Sarah's life was that until an old age, they had no children through which they could plant seeds of kindness into the world. When God opened Sarah's womb and brought the miraculous birth of Isaac, Avraham's lifetime of service and faithfullness to the one true God met its reward.