Motivational Monday: Freeing Yourself

Recently, Rabbi Sacks shared a thought that’s worth your time to read:

Sometimes, alongside medical treatment, we need the touch of another to heal our pain

In it, one line caught my attention:

“A prisoner cannot release himself from prison”
(Talmud Bavli, Tractate Berachot, page 5b)

This is an important understanding – that sometimes we are in a pit, and no amount of self-help or self-reliance is going to get us out. We need to remember that for ourselves, but we also need to remember that with regard to others – if we see someone in their own personal prison, we need to understand that they may be unable to free themselves, and it is incumbent upon us to help.

But maybe even more important was the discussion between the sick person and the healer just before that:

“Rabbi Yoḥanan fell ill. Rabbi Ḥanina entered to visit him, and said to him: Is your suffering dear to you? Rabbi Yoḥanan said to him: I welcome neither this suffering nor its reward. Rabbi Ḥanina said to him: Give me your hand. He gave him his hand, and Rabbi Ḥanina stood him up and restored him to health.”

“Is your suffering dear to you?” Do you define yourself by it? Do you feel somehow redeemed? Do you hold onto it as tightly as it is holding onto you? I think these are piercing, difficult, unsettling questions.

But even moreso, that Rabbi Yohanan’s friend took the time to really SEE him, to take in the unvarnished truth of what was happening, and to ask this of his friend with honesty, candor, and love.

May we all be lucky enough to have such friends in our lives, and to appreciate them for the ways in which they may save us in an hour when we cannot free ourselves from prison.”