Hallel: Personal Cornerstones
Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: Come and see how the nature of The Holy One, Blessed Is He, differs from the nature of a mortal. For the nature of a mortal is to cause
a wound with a knife and heal with a bandage. But as for the Holy One, Blessed Is He, with the very same thing that He strikes, He heals. Joseph was sold only because of a dream, as it is stated, ‘Here comes the dreamer’, and he ruled only because of a dream, as it is stated, ‘It was at the end of two full years that Pharaoh had a dream…’ (Midrash Tanchuma, Vayeishev #9).
When something goes wrong, we tend to alienate ourselves from the perceived source of the pain and seek external ways of mending the problem. What we do not realize is that at the core of what makes us suffer, often lies the remedy.
It is not simply poetic justice or irony that what caused us harm ends up being the healing power to the ache itself. If we are willing to open our eyes, we will realize that God is placing us in a given situation to deal with the exact things we have been trying to avoid. And if we allow ourselves to be guided through the process, we will recognize how the cure was there all along, disguised in the hardship.
When we say in Hallel: “The stone despised by the builders has become the cornerstone”, we can reflect on those things that we have come to despise because they were too hard to confront; relationships we have neglected because we were scared of getting hurt, situations we have turned away from because they were too challenging to deal with, parts of ourselves we have shut down because we have felt intimidated, tests we believe we have failed time and time again.
With the same thing that God strikes, He heals. Those very ‘stones’, those very challenges we are afraid we cannot overcome, might become our own cornerstone as we work on building ourselves as human beings.