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A Lonely Connection

Written by Rabbi Yehoshua Alt, 8/12/2019

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A Lonely Connection

Everyone has times they feel lonely, some more than others. Why did Hashem create this feeling of loneliness? 


It is through this feeling that one can genuinely connect to Hashem. The root of loneliness stems from the soul not feeling the presence of Hashem.[1] The only way to fill this emptiness is through Hashem. This is what is meant in the Midrash that links with ' [2] as the alone of Yaakov is connected to the alone of Hashem.[3] Similarly, we are called [4] as we can do the same. Indeed, we are named after Yaakov and we therefore have this trait in our genes. When these two alones connect, that is authentic companionship.


When one feels lonely, he may call a friend to remove this feeling. This is one example of an external, superficial way of dealing with this feeling. Other examples are playing with different gadgets of technology[5] or with hanging out with friends.[6] 


This state of loneliness is a gift that Hashem gives us as it is a reminder for us to connect with Him.[7] For this reason, it says ,[8] I found nothing better for oneself than silence. In this way we can fulfill the words of the Mesillas Yesharim[9] '..., we were created to revel in Hashem and delight in the glory of the Shechina which is the ultimate joy and greatest pleasure.


The Noam Elimelech and his brother R Zusha were once arrested and put in a prison cell. When morning arrived, the Noam Elimelech was found crying since he couldnt recite Brachos as there was a makeshift toilet (bucket) there. R Zusha said to his brother that through this, we can connect to Hashem because the same Hashem who commanded us to daven is the same Hashem who commanded us not to daven in this situation. They then danced as the Noam Elimelech was consoled. Upon seeing this, the guard removed the bucket since this dancing infuriated him! They were now able to recite Brachos!


To inculcate the feeling that we are always with Hashem we need to constantly repeat the following: am I alone or am I with you Hashem. This applies whether we are saying , are in shul and so on. If we are with other people, we can say I am not only with these people but also with you Hashem.[10] We need to verbalize this as it is not enough to just think it since with words we instill it in our heart as in .[11] 


The way one can check himself to evaluate if he has reached perfection in this area is to see if he ever feels lonelyeven if this feeling is only for a second. A level such as this may take a lifetime to acquire. Let us daven to Hashem to reach these high levels.

Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R Mordechai Friedlander Ztzl for close to five years. He received Semicha from R Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

[1] A Chassid of the Sefas Emes (1847-1905) was a Rav in a town where there were no other Chassidim. He asked the Sefas Emes if it would be wiser for him to move to another town where there were Chasidim since he felt so lonely where he was? The Sefas Emes told him that if you have a Gemara that you can learn, you need never feel lonely.

[2] Breishis Rabba 77:1. Breishis 32:25. Yeshaya 2:11.

[3] Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, volume 2, p. 99. 

[4] Bamidbar 23:9.

[5] These gadgets have been called, weapons of mass distraction.

[6] Everyone has a need to be alone as well as a need for companionship. This originates from Adam as he was born alone and later had a wife and children (companionship). Being that man was born alone, the need to be alone is deeper.

[7] When Hashem gave the Torah the world was silent as the birds didnt fly, the animals didnt make any noise, the Malachim called didnt say , , and so on (Shemos Rabba 29:9). There was no noise so that we could hear the voice within ourselves the voice that longed for a spiritual connection, the voice that longed for Hashems Torah.   

[8] Avos 1:17.

[9] Chapter 1. When R Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (1707-1746), also known as the Ramchal (" is an acronym for' ), was fifteen years old, he already knew the entire Talmud by heart, the teachings of the Arizal and the Zohar. When he was twenty, he claimed to have received direct instruction from an angel (known as a Maggid). While stories of such encounters with celestial entities were not unknown in kabbalistic circles, it was unheard of for someone of such a young age. His peers were enthralled by his written accounts of these "Divine lessons," but the leading Italian rabbinical authorities were highly suspicious and threatened to excommunicate him. Just one hundred years earlier another young mystic, Shabtai Tzvi (16261676), had rocked the Jewish world by claiming to be Moshiach. Although at one point Shabtai Tzvi convinced many European and Middle Eastern rabbis of his claim, the episode ended with him recanting and converting to Islam. The global Jewish community was still reeling from that, and the similarities between the Ramchals writings and Shabtai Tzvi's were perceived as being particularly dangerous and heretical. The Ramchal decided not to write the Maggids lessons or teach mysticism. In 1735, the Ramchal left Italy for Amsterdam, believing that in the more liberal environment there, he would be able to pursue his mystical interests. Passing through Germany, he appealed to the local rabbinical authorities to protect him from the threats of the Italian rabbis. They refused and forced him to sign a document stating that all the teachings of the Maggid were false. Most of his writings were burned, though some did survive. He authored about ninety Sefarim on a range of different topics. From the Zoharic writings, the 70 Tikkunim Chadashim re-appeared in 1958 against all odds, in the main library of Oxford. "Arrangements" of thoughts, these Tikkunim expose 70 different essential uses of the last pasuk of Chumash. Supposedly taught word-by-word in Aramaic by the Ramchals Maggid, they parallel the Tikunei Zohar, which expose the 70 fundamental understandings of the first pasuk in Chumash. It was only as recently as the 1970s that some of Ramchals books were discovered and printed. One interesting work is his Mishkney Elyon, which was written when he was 22 years old. He mentioned this Sefer in a letter he wrote in 1729 to his Rebbi, R Basan, during his dark days of oppression while everyone was closing down on him. The Sefer hadnt been printed, nor seen, for 227 years until in 1956 when its manuscript was accidentally discovered in the Bodleian Library in Oxford.  It was then printed for the first time ever in 1980, under the title Ginzei Ramchal. In 1993 a new broader edition of Mishkney Elyon was requested by the Lubavitcher Rebbe and published by the Ramchal Institute in Yerushalayim. When the Ramchal finally reached Amsterdam, he was able to pursue his studies of Kabbalah relatively unhindered. Earning a living as a diamond cutter, he continued writing but refused to teach. It was in this period that he wrote the Mesillas Yesharim (1740). The Gra (1720-1797), who was a contemporary of the Ramchal, was reputed to have said after reading Mesillas Yesharim, that if the Ramchal was still alive, he would walk from Vilna to learn at the feet of the Ramchal. Frustrated by his inability to teach Kabbalah, the Ramchal left Amsterdam for Eretz Yisrael in 1743, settling in Akko. Three years later, he and his family died in a plague. A century after his death, the Ramchal was rediscovered by the Mussar movement. R Yisrael Salanter (1810-1883) placed Mesillas Yesharim at the heart of the Mussar curriculum of the major yeshivas of Eastern Europe.

[10] One should speak to Hashem in second person not in third person. For example, one shouldnt say Hashem made this happen to me rather say You, Hashem, did this. In this way, we speak with Hashem, not about Him.

[11] Tehillim 116:10. Similarly, it says (Devarim 30:14)say it externally with your mouth and then eventually, if you do it enough times, it will penetrate your heart. 

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