There are times in all of our lives when we have just had enough, that the stresses of daily life and the frustrations of what seem to be excessive tribulations are just too much to endure. At these moments, it is imperative to not succumb to negativity and fear. Instead, we should see our shortcomings as an opportunity for spiritual growth.
We see an example of this in Parshat Beshelach where Klal Yisroyal are complaining that Moshe brought them out of Mitzrayim simply to die of thirst in the desert. As the very exodus from Egypt was brought about by the many public miracles of the plagues, so too was the solution to the lack of water a huge public miracle. Hashem told Moshe to strike a rock with his staff and water will come forth from it and the people will drink.
It would be perfectly normal for one with the limited understanding of humanity to doubt such a possibility. To counter this, Hashem tells him “Omaid lefanecha sham al hatzour b’Choraiv” (I shall stand before you by the the rock in Horeb). Meaning, don’t worry about others will say or how you actually feel about the matter, I personally will bring it to pass regardless of how nonsensical it seems.
There is an important lesson to be derived from this pasuk. By telling Moshe that he will be found in this lowly rock in the wilderness, Hashem made it clear that the potential for spiritual elevation is everywhere. The Yalkut Smimoni sums it up succinctly with the words “Wherever you find the mark of human feet, there I am before you.”
Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler brings insight to this concept in his wondrous work, Michtav Me’Eliyahu and reprinted in the incredible series Strive for Truth. He compares the rock at Horeb to the burning bush where Moshe heard the voice of Hashem commanding him to return to Egypt and bring the people from slavery to freedom. He was told “remove your shoes from your feet because the place where you are standing is holy ground.”
R. Dessler draws from this comparison the idea that wherever a person stands, that is his holy place; the place where he can begin his spiritual regeneration. This idea is referred as his bihira point, the place where his free choice can bring significant elevation to his thinking and life. However low it may be on the scale of spiritual values, this is the very place from which he can begin his ascent.
“A person who discovers his lowest point can draw from this discovery the spiritual impetus which he needs for aliya,” R. Dessler writes. According to this concept, “remove your shoes” means “remove the covering that which is hiding your defects from yourself.” Only when this is done will “the place where you are standing” become “holy ground.” Conversely, the failure to seek spirituality in our hardships renders them to a worldly outcome. In the absence of growth lies stagnation, and that is the very source of our life’s travails.