The Torah records that Bilaam, one of our arch enemies, intended to curse the Jewish people but ended up blessing them saying, “Verily, a people that will dwell alone; not recognized among the nations.” Loneliness is a blessing. From the very inception of our nationhood, the Jews have stood alone, unique among the nations.
The existential human condition, in fact, is loneliness. Think about it. What drives us in our lives is to express our uniqueness. We have an incredible craving for uniqueness, and as soon as we achieve our greatest dreams of uniqueness we feel defeated because at that point we have no one to speak to. If you are totally and completely unique, how can anyone understand you? You have your own language, your own experience, your own way. If people can understand you, then you are not unique. And no matter what you share, if what you say comes from the deepest place of your uniqueness, then it comes from the deepest place of your loneliness.
When we share our pain with other people we cannot expect them to feel our pain. Yet they do feel something. With their memory they are accessing their own pain, which they hope approximates your pain, but it is still not your pain. In so much that it is my pain, I am totally alone. In so much as it is my joy, I am totally alone. And no matter what I say to you, it is still my pain and not yours.
Simply because we are unique, human beings are totally alone. However, paradoxically, when we courageously and completely embrace our loneliness we suddenly discover our greatest companion. In the deepest place of our loneliness we find G-d.
We find G-d at our most lonely moments because, as the Torah teaches, G-d feels our pain. “… I am with him in his pain.” The Midrash also explains that when a person is sick, the divine presence is by our side. G-d is crying right there with us, saying, “Oy, My limbs hurt, My head hurts, My heart hurts.” G-d actually feels our pain.
Even the people closest to us in our life cannot feel our pain, so we feel lonely. But if we embrace that pain something amazing happens: We hit the bedrock of loneliness and mysteriously we get a deep sense that we are not alone. The bedrock of loneliness is the border where the individual I merges and connects to the Ultimate I — G-d.
When we experience our inner incommunicable uniqueness we experience communion with G-d. We feel connected to the Great Self who is not us and yet completely one with us. Paradoxically when we face and embrace our existential loneliness we experience our deepest companionship with G-d and discover how alone turns into all one.