My son told me this morning that, as he was just beginning his training in the IDF special forces, he met a soldier who was just finishing his service in the same unit, the Gadsar Reconnaissance Division of the Nahal Brigade.
“I envy you, ” said the retiring warrior. “And I feel sorry for you. I envy you for the incredible experience you’re about to have. And I feel sorry for you because it will be harder than you can imagine.”
I immediately imagined two souls passing as one descends from on high to take its place inside a newborn child and the other departs this world on its way to receive its eternal reward.
“I envy you,” says the ascending soul to the one about to enter the material world. “And I feel sorry for you. I envy you for the joy you will find serving the Master of the Universe, a joy that I will never know again now that my time on earth is over. And I feel sorry for you, for you have no idea how difficult it will be for you to remember who you are and what your purpose is amidst so much pain and confusion.”
The more we seek to avoid pain, the more we deprive ourselves of the inner pleasure that is the source of true happiness. The more we rise to meet the obstacles and challenges that confront us, the more we find joy in this world and make ourselves deserving of the pleasure that awaits us once our time here has passed.