Nothing in the Middle

Shalom Aleichem!

Did you ever get that feeling that you’re not making progress? That you’re in no-man’s land? If so, read on.

Chanukah is coming, and I’m thinking about jelly doughnuts. I was speaking with a student who is a member of the AEPi fraternity about a Chanukah event that Chabad and AEPi will be doing together: Latke Making. It’s kind of an annual thing; hey, who doesn’t love a fresh, hot latke?

Referring to those tasty, fried jelly doughnuts that appear in bakeries around Chanukah, he asked, “What about sufganiyot? Can we make those, too?”

Happens to be that I know a thing or two about a thing or two, and yes, I know how to make sufganiyot — sans jelly, that is.

Did you ever bite into a fresh jelly doughnut, and the jelly blobs onto your shirt? Annoying, to say the least. I think that most people don’t actually like the jelly filling, anyway.

So as I was thinking about how I prefer sufganiyot with nothing in the middle, one thing led to another, and before you know it, I was reflecting on a Chassidic discourse that I’ve been digging into recently.

While the topic in general is a bit esoteric, the main theme is that of progressing from one level to the next.

In this Chassidic text, the idea is as follows: In order to grow and progress to an entirely new plane, you must first undergo a period of nothingness. You need to come to a state where you have nothing in the middle, so to speak.

As long as you’re still holding on to your previous level of growth, for example, by clinging to stinted mindsets, you will be inhibited in your future growth. Check your baggage at the door, as the saying goes.

It’s analogous to climbing a ladder: In order to reach the higher rung, you first must let go of the rung you are currently on. Granted, this is most precarious state to be in, but it is the only way you will ever reach higher.

Another analogy: In order for a seed to grow, it first must decompose in the earth.

True growth necessitates a period of “nothing in the middle.” Remember that no-man’s land feeling? It just may be an indication that you’re about to progress to the next stage, and things are looking up!

Shabbat Shalom,