The obstacles and challenges that appear in our lives are not really our “enemies.” In fact, the difficulties we face were created to help us gain strength for the spiritual growth that is the true purpose of our lives.
This is a very basic kabbalistic principle: we receive Light depending on the difficulty of the actions we undertake. By meditating on this precept over the course of the coming week, we do more than gain deeper understanding of its truth. We can also connect with the supernal energy that will allow us to overcome obstacles and thereby acquire the strength that they are intended to bring us.
There is a famous biblical episode of Jacob’s wrestling with an angel throughout the night. If we think of this angel as a personification of our evil inclinations, we may assume that the angel wants very badly to defeat us. After all, since evil is evil, it makes sense to believe that the evil angel wants us to choose darkness over Light.
Our sages tell us, however, that this is not the case. Rather, our evil inclinations simply have a job to do. They exist as opportunities for us to exercise our free will and, hopefully, to choose good. When we make that choice, there is joy even on the part of the angel of darkness! His purpose is only to make our spiritual growth more difficult, thereby allowing us to receive more Light.
The Evil Inclination does not want us to listen to him, for he knows that this would go against the Creator's desire. Evil wants us to disregard evil, so that we can reveal more of the Creator's Light. This is a beautiful paradox, and a great teaching.
In the kabbalistic commentaries it is written that the evil angel whom Jacob overcame was overjoyed at this result. For the first time since the beginning of the world, he was able to sing before the Creator — for no one had ever defeated him, as did Jacob. Now the evil angel had finally accomplished his purpose: to be defeated by a human soul, and thereby to reveal great Light.
What a beautiful insight into the workings of the supernal worlds! We can all connect with this truth and draw strength and commitment to our own spiritual work. By doing so, we will hasten the day when we also sing before the Creator.