Testing, Testing 1…2…3


Saying “testing, testing…1…2…3” and tapping is a fairly antiquated method of inspecting a microphone or any other device designed to process sound. Whereas audio equipment evaluating subjectivists maintain that the human ear is sufficient for discerning faulty apparati, and whereas many more equipment testers have jumped on the objectivist bandwagon, i.e. have come to insist that relying on electronic tools is necessary for establishing a piece of gear’s function, few members of either camp, any more, repeat phrases and numbers and tap to see if something works. That is, regardless of whether sound production professionals maintain that native human aptitude is the ideal route to measuring equipment performance or whether they maintain that engineering smarts better meets this goal, audiophiles agree on the need to ascertain what they are seeking and to ascertain the minimal level of function that will satisfy their mission before they run critical evaluations.
We can learn from those experts; in life, we need to run checks on our thoughts, on our words, and on our deeds. We need to figure out our spiritual goals and to determine our minimal ethical standards before we let loose with ideas, with speech, or with actions. Even though Torah accomplishes those ends for us, we, ourselves, like our receivers, amplifiers, mixing consoles and speakers, functional only when we are in sync and are otherwise harmonious. It’s insufficient to know what we are seeking; we also have to make an effort to sidestep the yetza hara’s noise whether that disturbance of our systems is generated by ourselves or by others. We have to want to minimalize the number and kind of system breakdowns we endure, also. Human malfunctions can include, has v’shalom, but are not limited to us: embracing falsehoods, accepting delays in restitution, and otherwise our mixing it up with groups of moral distortions, which cycle into negative feedback loops. We have to be vigilant.
We ought to spend resources figuring out if the cumulative impact of our imperfections remains within acceptable limits or not (as human, we will always have faults; it’s the quality and quantity of our faults that needs to trouble us). We need to identify and to repair those choices of ours that are outside of the range of acceptability and resonance. Similar to sound equipment, we are sophisticated, sensitive products. Our inner recording and duplication systems rely on our willingness to perform teshuva as much as on our energy. It’s not enough for us to try to make our output intelligible; we must, as well, make our output as free of undesirable forces/static, as possible.
If sound equipment is not regularly maintained, it can become, at worst, useless. If our sacred selves are neglected, we, too, can lose our opportunities to fulfill our roles. Simply, when we fail to adjust our inner works, The Repair Man gets called in; we suffer the course corrections/ afflictions deemed necessary by the Great Sound Maintenance Man. Since the Boss does not mark any of us as hopeless, He willing restores us again and again. Our lived kaparot, i.e. our harsh decrees, prevent us from having to be junked, from having to miss out on bigger and better opportunities in the more permanent World to Come.
Nonetheless, such lived mussar causes us the sensation of misery. Just as audio systems are managed according to psychoacoustic principles, according to human awareness of sound perception, so, too, are our human systems are managed, by us, according to our innate understanding of the principles of reality perception. We shy from dissonance; we run from hurt. We try to keep ourselves away from moments that chafe against our expectations. We abhor and, consequently, seek to escape from, anguish. We’re unwilling to forego our comfort for a short time in order to insure our wellbeing for a long span here and for eternity, or in order to insure that we keep functioning, on this world, at all. We’re like the kids who want their woofers and tweeters rebuilt, but have no plans to part with their speakers so that The Mechanic can patch them. All along, while we pull our damaged goods from our Source of Help, we kvetch about our distortions.
If only we could grasp as well as accept that our trials and tribulations are not meant to punish us, but to strengthen us, we’d get put right sooner and more efficiently.
It’s not just that our denial, our running away from altering our ways of being in this world in order to return to the derech, by means of pills or thrills, causes us additional harm when we’re challenged, or that such responses to our getting better do nothing to clear any disorders in our souls’ equilibria. It’s more that at as long as we insist on staying anchored in the physical world’s cacophony, we will feel pain. As long as we cling to the miasma constituted by our financial, interpersonal, or health problems rather than willingly integrate the light and direction sent to us by “the heavenly workshop,” we’ll stay stuck. Harsh decrees are not, ultimately, meant for delivering to us wretchedness, but for realigning our systems.
It’s natural not to enjoy the process of rectification. In balance, it’s foolish for us to run from events that troubleshoot our problems for us and that, eventually, lead to our restoration. We no more need to be a sage to get out of the way of Hashem’s securing of our souls than we need to be a sound engineer to get out of a technician’s way when he or she is fixing our electronic equipment. All that’s asked of us that we manifest willingness: to get our stuff checked regularly, to hand over any faulty (inner) equipment, and to value the recommendations for putting ourselves back into working order, that we value the hardships, which are offered to us by The Expert. It’s to our advantage to make sure that our systems function smoothly.