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Am I Under a Curse?
(b) Points of Advice
Here are points I have found useful: [Some of them may seem obvious but putting them into practice is not always that easy.]
First we will deal with the feeling of being cursed after undertaking actions that should have led to improvements but did not do so.
The Prophet Jeremiah
The Prophet Jeremiah encountered this question when dealing with a group of Jews in Exile in Egypt whom he had persuaded to abandon idolatry.
They subsequently complained:
"But since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine? (Jeremiah 44:18).
Jeremiah replied that in the past they had sinned through idolatry and were being punished for it. He pointed out that they had not really repented but rather had taken a break and were about to return to their perverse ways and therefore would be punished even more.
This answer however is a little too easy and does not quite fit the experience that many undergo in similar situations.
This verse of Jeremiah 44:18 was actually pointed out to me some years ago by an associate. He said that the verse expressed his own experience.
Formerly he had enjoyed a relatively high status but since arriving in the Promised Land with the intention of leading a Torah-orientated existence had lost it almost entirely. Looking at this person from the outside I would now say that His problem seemed to be lack of will to want to start again. He did not see why he should. There was no justice in it therefore he was not about to do so.
He in fact assumed that he was owed something.
This is an extreme example of an attitude that most of us (albeit usually to a lesser degree) incline to!
The Almighty does not owe you anything!
This is the final message of the Book of Job. We all however to some degree assume that God should be good to us and that things should go well.
Usually they do and we take it for granted. The problem is that every now and again it is as if we need to be shaken up and made to consciously work towards obtaining Divine Favor.
[Isaiah 59:2] BUT YOUR INIQUITIES HAVE SEPARATED BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR GOD, AND YOUR SINS HAVE HID HIS FACE FROM YOU, THAT HE WILL NOT HEAR.
All this is perhaps easier said than done. One can always solve another's problems (at least in theory) easier than cope with those of oneself.
We have the Book of Job. The three companions of Job followed by the fourth protagonist all bring claims that are basically correct.
God is good. God does no evil. A righteous person will be blessed and an evil person punished. This is true. This is what happens in the long run.
There are however numerous exceptions and Job was one of them. Even in the case of Job however the ultimate result was that he received an even greater reward as a result of his steadfastness.
Based on my own experiences I would suggest the following:
A person experiences a period of bad luck usually because drastic change has taken place or is required.
Something is needed to be done but you are not doing it. Perhaps a partial change has taken place but it is not enough. We may be trying to stop the process in its half-way stage.
What is happening may in effect be a sign of Divine Interest in one's self beyond that experienced by others.
Even after being taken in to Captivity disasters will still pursue the Israelites (Amos 9:4-5). What difference is there between you and other peoples? (Amos 9:7). What makes you better than them? The House of Israel will be sifted among the nations like sand in a sieve and none will be lost (Amos 9:9). The sinners of Israel and those who claimed that nothing bad would happen if we continue to sin will be killed (9:10). We tend to look at others and take it for granted that what applies to them will also pertain to ourselves, i.e. others can act in a certain way and get away with it.
Why should we not be the same?
The God Almighty is the God of Israel and only unto us has HE made HIMSELF known: therefore HE will punish us (Amos 3:2). We are CHOSEN.
Our deeds and attitudes are more important. Consequently we will be held more responsible for them.
In the same way that we are liable to be punished so may we be rewarded and assisted. Miracles can happen. We need to find the right track, get on it, and go with it.
God wants us to turn to HIM, to rely on HIM, to come back to where we should have been. This is the meaning of Teshuvah (Repentance) which literally means "Returning".
RETURN UNTO ME, AND I WILL RETURN UNTO YOU, SAITH THE LORD OF HOSTS [Malachi 3:7]:
Malachi goes on to exhort Israel to give tithes and tithing is an aspect of Repentance. It is required. To whom the tithes should go is something that may be discussed but the principle remains.
Be Open to Opportunities
Sometimes the best job opportunity you are going to have is the first one offered to you. Be prepared for it. This applies to everything else. Just because you have had a bad run in some areas does not mean that it has to continue in every field, every day. You can change it or change can come to you if you are prepared to give it a try. Do not be afraid of success.
Listen to People.
Very, very often the answer lies somewhere in the advice and ideas that others put forward. Listen to them. This does not mean automatically agreeing with others or doing what everybody tells you but at least listen to what others say and take it into consideration.
Salvation can come from Above.
Miracles and Divine intervention in almost miraculous manner does and can occur. Believe in it. Pray for it if you can.
Work from Below. Overall Inventory.
The way out of a difficult situation will probably involve using what you have. What do you have going for you? What experiences do you have? What are you good at? What do you feel good doing? What do others like in you? What have others recommended to you at any time in the past? What would you really like to do? What do you feel really needs doing? Could you do it? Or something along the same lines? What would be required for you to go ahead?
A person should be happily married.
I recently read in a Rabbinical Commentary (Nativot Shalom, "BeChukoti") a message that could be understood as saying:
Someone who achieves marital union in a healthy and legitimate way and maintains that state of affairs will get along with other people.
[ The next best thing (in lieu of marriage) may be abstinence but this is very difficult, at least for males.]
The message was somewhat more refined than I am expressing it but basically that is what it says and it is correct.
For proof we suggest taking notice of the slang words of youths and young people. Someone who is not in tune with the accepted social norms and who is regarded as alien and menacing will invariably (all over the world) be found to be referred to in terms of the sexual dysfunctional or worse.
It is as if it is instinctually recognized that they who have such problems will also have trouble at the social level. They will be morally unsound in more ways than one.
Forget what the pscychologists and modern liberalized experts try and tell us. They do not know. They get it wrong, project their own wishful thinking, and are mislead. We cannot change reality altogether. The Bible tells it as it is.
A person radiates messages. Subliminally we tell others what and who we are and others react accordingly.
Someone who is sexually correct instills a sense of camaraderie and sympathy in others and does not pose a threat or source of potential perturbation to them.
Very often a major component of the "feeling cursed" phenomenon is due to a lack of ability to find a place in the surrounding society.
There may be a sexual element to this.
It could be that because of lack of employment or other traumas etc the family situation has deteriorated. Try and make it better.
Family is a source of strength.
These points of advice may not be possible to put immediately into practice but they should be kept in mind.
Do what you can as you can.
You do not have to have the perfect solution straight away. Use what you have.
"Honesty is the best policy" is not just a platitude. Honesty is recognized and rewarded.
Dishonesty is usually found out, causes loss, and is not worth the trouble despite in some cases being seemingly unavoidable.
You should not only just be honest but also avoid being unnecessarily suspected of dishonesty.
At the same time be realistic.
Perhaps the local council would prefer you not to report everything that is liable for taxation if it means you paying less taxes in the long run and your family becoming a burden?
People know subconsciously what the truth is. So should you.
Look After Yourself
The beginning of change for the better may simply require a psychological switch. Be optimistic, feel better. Eat well, sleep well, engage in light (or heavy) exercise, breathe in and out and step forward.
[ An athlete who beats up a punching bag finds it much easier afterwards to be respectfully pleasant to others.]
Avoid or cut down on chemical substances etc.
Sometimes our physical surroundings are unhealthy. There may be little one can do on this matter but even just being aware of it is a beginning.
Many of us suffer from various degrees of depression. This may be inherited or acquired. It is not necessarily negative. Maimonides on this matter quotes favorably from Aristotle who said that all great men suffer from the "Black Phlegm" i.e. depressive disorders. Churchill called it the "Black Dog" and he himself suffered from it.
See "Chance Thoughts" by Sue Chance, M.D.: "Churchill's Black Dog"
If you suffer from some degree or other of Depression recognize the problem and deal with it.
"By wise counsel wage war" (Proverbs 20:18): The expression translated here as "By wise counsel" in Hebrew is "Be-Tachbulot" or literally by stratagems, artifices, tricks, crafty procedures. You have a problem so find ways to overcome it, get around it, make it work for you.
Do not give up.
You have not even begun yet.
The Books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes contain some very good advice so does the Bible in general.
The Bible can be your life and vitality.
Do good in general.
Help others when you can. Sometimes we have opportunities to help others with little cost to ourselves and we do not take advantage of them. It may be that helping others is the key to our own deliverance? The favor you do to someone else may actually be to one's self.
Do not get angry.
Respect others especially those who are vulnerable and whom we may tend to take too much for granted.
Judge people favorably.
Trust others in general but where there are grounds to suspect negativity take the approach of "respect and inspect" i.e. treat them with respect but keep your eyes and ears open.
Do not loose control.
Do not dwell on negative experiences.
You can always make it better. Do so.
The marginal difference may be what determines success. Pay attention to little matters. Make corrections and more corrections
and do not be afraid of work.
On the other hand, an artist named Yehonatan David White once told me:
"A painter must know when to walk away from a painting".
Do what you can and give others a chance to help you and participate with you.
Do not deny negative messages but cope with them.
Take what comes your way as a sign as to what you should do.
Learn the Bible.
Learn also Brit-Am Teachings, Bible Studies, and/or other efficacious writings.
Our studies of the Psalms are often helpful.