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Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Pain Hurts

It was eerily dark.
I usually don’t wander through the streets that late but what can you do if up until 11 PM you didn’t get a chance to pray Maariv? That’s when I encountered Mr. Bohohoo
He looked grim and discontent.
I didn’t want to go down that road but nevertheless I asked what was wrong?
He shared the heartbreaking news that the expensive new piece of furniture he had ordered over a months ago cold not be delivered before Shabbes
Besides his patience not being rewarded with the ordered goods, this news was very disconcerting to him since he had out of town guests for Shabbes and was looking forward to have it (i.e. show it off) before their arrival.
With upsetting news of this magnitude I couldn’t help but inwardly roll my eyes, put on my sweetest soothing smile and gently told him there were worse things in the world.
I bid him goodbye and a murmured a sarcastically charged ‘good luck’.

Two whole weeks hadn’t passed and I got a phone call from a friend who was going through some hard times. I agreed to meet with him to talk about it all.
Immediately I had a déjà-vu when seeing his pained expression.
And then it hit me.

Discomfort, unpleasantness, and pain are sensations.
If you feel distressed, sadness or pain, than this is what you feel.
The underlying cause is of little importance once your body has translated it into physical and emotional sensations.
When someone experiences distress for little things, for stupidities for narishkeiten in heimische Yiddish or when someone experiences distress and pain caused by more serious factors, what they feel is the same.
True, serious problems tend to be intense and coupled with worry etc…
But if person A is very sad about the loss of his prized chosson watch and person B feel tears trickling down after he just learned his son went of the derech, then in the end they both feel sad, despondent, helpless etc…
And if Mr. Bohohoo has the luxury to feel distress due to a late delivery, than his state of feeling distressed has to be acknowledged.
He deserves a word or two of comfort, not a condescending look and sarcastic mouthful.

“I wish I had his problems” people are wont to say.
That may be true, but you would not want to feel the way someone who’s been healthy all his life feels when his little finger hurts…

I agree. The sensation of pain hurts regardless of the cause.

However, when one puts life and what is ailing him/her into a proper perspective, and looks from a place of gratitude, often we can see that what we feel so miserable about is not such a big deal afterall.

You seem to be a good friend to others. Blessings.
Prag -

That was touching -
describing the importance of empathy
Kol hakavod
Nice of you to listen in any case. His pain might be the same pain of someone that lost a person in their lives. Sad but true. Makes us think about priorities.
On a similar note, people often feel that they don't need to apologize for their actions if they feel that they "didn't do anything wrong". I disagree. IMHO, the reason you apologize is sometimes not for your wrongdoing but for how you made the other person feel. I can do something and not regret my action in the slightest, but I will regret the other person's reaction to my action, and for that I will apologize.

The end of your post reminds me of the famous story with the man that G-d allows him to trade in his bag of tzaros.
We all have our own tzaros and Hashem gives each of us the strengh to deal with our own issues.
Personally, I have no patience for drama queens although I do make the appropriate noises- but inside I want to scream, "It's just a blooming piece of furniture!"

Prag, I always knew you're a better man than I am.
Barbara-you’re right and when a person is capable of putting things in perspective that person will ache less often and less intensely.
I’m afraid though that many people have not learned that yet.

TOWIK-Thanks, I see it lacking around me and I thought it was not right.

Socialworker- It’s crazy that some people will feel sadness because for e.g. their new hat doesn’t match their jacket.
The lesson is to nevertheless accept the fact that, regardless of how ridiculous, they actually feel hurt.

A frum idealist -Perfect addition and example

Kasamba- I don’t think I am, if you read carefully I sort of mocked the guy. I just regretted this later.
right right right!
I've always said..The worst pain in the world is the one you have at that moment.
So true.

I have always said that when ppl say to me,"look at so-and-so, his tzoros are so much worse blah blah blah..." it doesn't help. I hurt. Period. And I really don't care if one hundred or a thousand or a million people have expirienced the same and survived or if they have had worse.
I am in pain.
Exactly and not many can do that. I as a social worker must do that lol.
yy- cool

David- Great summarizing of my point.

Ex Sem- I agree, pain has a right to be acknowledged without nay comparisons to someone else’s.

Social worker-Well if you get paid to do it…:)
I got a question - if we are not supposed to look at someone with envy for what they do have why is it permissable to look at a person in distress and say thank g-d im not in their situation? its either dont compare yourself to another person AT ALL!
i agree, pain of any kind will always hurt.

you can compare but each person feels things diffently.
Anon- I think it's ok to be grateful not to have certain problems. It would be wrong to say something to the effect of "better he than me".
But essentially if you realize that you're lucky not to have problems that other's have rather than think what they have that you don’t (a fancy car for e.g.) then you have a healthy attitude to life.

Sarah-Good point.
The words are compassion and empathy. Who are we to judge what is appropriate for sadness or stress?

Thanks, Prag, for bringing this important lesson to us.
i never agree when people wish they had the 'problems that children have'. so simple, right? just a broken crayon, a funny color shirt... but no. kinda like david said, at that point its the worst problem imaginable.

side thing, its actually a gift from hashem to be able to be concerned with the 'stupid' things in life immediately after going through a difficult period, and not to forever be thinking "well, if my friend just passed away, how can i care if my food is too salty?"

and anon, its kinda immature to say 'all or none'. not much in life is meant to be black n white.
True but I do it naturally too.
Frumgirl- The thing is to be able to feel compassion for someone who cries about nonsense when you know there are so many Tzaros in the world.

The Sabra- Great example indeed.
Having the problem children have is a nice wish, feeling the way they do when they are sad is isn’t.
And you’re so right that it’s a Brachah that we can care about little things, if not the really heavy stuff might never leave our minds.

Social- That’s a great gigt.
I find that a good rule of thumb is to never judge and try and put yourself in the other person's shoes. That kind of enables you to feel what they're feeling and empathize appropriately.
Oh gift, thanks.
its not about maturity - if we can't compare our lives to someone for the envy we shouldnt be comparing their miseries. There is a tought that G-d only gives one what they can cope with. so comparing is a little "immature".

So its ok to compare our lives against someones miseries/tradgedies but not with envy and wishes??
Anon- It's not just about comparing for the envy, you will see that while you may envy someone's car but you will not envy his martial problems for e.g.

So it turns out you compare for envy and for luck against a sinsgle person.

So it's ok to compare if you must, but not to feel envious, cause as a true believer you believe H'Ashem gives you all you need in life to complete your 'mission'.
Swift- That's the best attitude, we never really know what a person is going through.
Good post, many times the sadness shows itself in something that might seem trival, but its coming from a deeper source.

A good word and a smile always work.
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