Chazal explain to us that for each temple, our sins were the cause of the destruction. Those who came to knock the temples down were only knocking down structures. The truth of the temple being destroyed occurred when our sins removed the Shechina from the Temple and when our sinas chinum broke apart Klal Yisrael.
The outer destructions of the temple look quite mighty. The fierce rulers whose armies decimated and destroyed the temples look quite powerful in our eyes. But the power was not theirs. Hashem sent them and all power is His. No man has any power to do anything. Every one of us, no matter if we are a King, a President, an ordinary citizen of the world, a child, a patient in a hospital, has no power. None whatsoever. Sorry to wake us up to that.
We have effort and opportunity. We have free will and imagination. We have physical gifts, including bodies, brains, intelligence and more. But no matter how you want to assert the appearance of our independent existence, it is ultimately true that we are subjects of the Creator and it is His Power that is granted to our efforts for any success in the world, even the violence and horror that we see today.
The created world is made of four substances, solid, liquid, gas and radioactive materials. The difference between these materials is the speed at which the electrons move and in the case of radioactive, how unstable the atoms are due to certain attributes of the electrons. This basic concept should demonstrate to us that despite all the amazing creative and life sustaining systems Hashem has created, His involvement with every atom of the universe may be concealed but that should not prevent us from comprehending His Total Control.
Every second, Hashem re-creates absolutely every atom in the universe. This second looks like a continuation from the previous second. But that is not accurate. This second is a totally new creation. Thus we can see how our prayers can change anything.
And so can our teshuva. When we do the four steps of teshuva, the next second is a new second, one where our aveira and the damage we created is no longer there, although it might take a Yom Kipur to totally remove the damage. Yom Kipur is the time when Hashem takes us all for a nice cleansing dip in the mikvah of forgiveness. During Elul, we can be asking Hashem specifically for what we know we need forgiveness applied to,
The issue of our imagination is one that matters so much. When we saw the destruction of the Temples, the natural thought is that the destroyers knocked down the temples and we should have an emotional reaction towards them for doing so. But Judaism does not tell us this as a tradition. Judaism tells us that until the temple is rebuilt, it is as if our generation destroyed it. Why? Because we have not repaired the real cause, the inner cause, of the destruction of the temple, which is our relationship with Hashem demonstrated through the treatment of each other.
When our imagination is glued to the absolute truth that Hashem’s 13 Attributes of Mercy are the most pleasant and powerful way to live, we begin to make a repair. Having a yearning to glue our imagination to absolute truth has taken a huge beating throughout the galus. We like to stay alive! We don’t like to be killed, annihilated, abandoned, expelled, rejected, knocked out, hated, or spoken poorly of. What could be more natural than that? The imagination of the animal soul is actually built with a desire for the approval of our parents, the ones who give us life and who train us in what is good and how to best take care of ourselves. We are taught to honor our parents who give us life. So if our parents are upset about something and punish us, it is natural that our imagination goes towards conforming to the ideals and rules of the ones we love. As we should as children. The parenting of children is designed to set the behira of the children, and thus imperfect and inexperienced people raise the next generation and there does not seem to be any upgrade from that available. It is purposeful. We are NOT our upbringings, although that is what sets our behira point. Crucial to understand for every person is that we have a tzelem elokim made in Hashem’s image and He creates us with free will to give us the opportunity to reflect Him into the world or not.
When our emotions and imaginations are set with determination for anything other than reflecting His 13 Attributes of Mercy and His Will as expressed in Torah into the world, He makes use of our short-sightedness and may even give us power and success in order to maintain the real choice He gives us. The cost is that our lives are added to the solidification of the false belief that there is some power that comes from somewhere other than Hashem. Imagine if we understood that every penny comes from one King – it may come through a bank, a job, an inheritance – but we would want very much to have a good relationship with the King, would we not?
It is the same with power. All power comes from Hashem, there is no other power. We labor and make effort, and He grants success or not. How smart would it be to begin to attribute power to ourselves or to tactics or to concepts that are derived from latching imagination to something other than Hashem’s 13 Attributes of Mercy? It might work for awhile, but inevitably, it has to fail. This is historically true for all manmade ideologies. The one ideology that survives all of history is putting all our imagination into emulating His 13 Attibutes of Mercy.
We have an inner being. Even if we don’t have any sense of connection with that inner being, as long as we breathe, we have an inner being. And that inner being is eternal. It is here to increase and strengthen itself with Torah, prayer and good deeds which come through our free willed choice to bring something natural from our desires and arrogance into a reflection of Hashem’s 13 Attributes of Mercy, through Torah, tefilla and kindness.
Where have we gotten waylaid, where has our intellect taken us toward what we believed was for a good purpose but ultimately fell short of emulating Hashem’s 13 Attributes of mercy, learning Torah, praying and doing acts of kindness? Who is the real me? Where can I make a creative and sincere choice to bring out in an increased way the part of me that is made in His Image and forego the goals that seem smart and appear on the outside to demonstrate a certain power, commanding respect, affecting our families and more? Instead, how can I reflect His Image more into the world to give Hashem a way to be in time and space? Which do I believe ultimately will bring the best results?
Making porous our ego goals by attaching our imagination to bringing out the tzelem elokim over the natural urges becomes the crucial task. If we are not actively and dynamically gluing our imagination to Hashem’s 13 attributes of mercy, to learning torah, to prayer and acts of kindness, the imagination naturally attaches elsewhere and we bring something far less into the world for which we are accountable and for which we often need forgiveness.
We are inner beings with an external component. Learning the limitations of being physical beings so that we can control, have power, or dominate, even with the most determined will combined with imagination, will only have success if Hashem gives it success. Yet for our own lives, even if Hashem has a reason to permit our efforts success, the question of whether we increased our ability to reflect Him into the world remains. Any imagination that bases esteem on anything else is a false esteem for which we do not earn any reward and often great punishment.
What is the basis for esteem? How much is in our bank account? How beautiful we are? Unfortunately one can see a terrible possibility that there could even be a standard of esteem being based on how many people were killed in genocidal activities. This is a more obvious way of seeing that esteem connected to outward manmade standards is NOT esteem at all.
The whole world is filled with the glory of Hashem. There is no glory other than Hashem. He glorifies us with a tzelem elokim, making us in His Image, so that He can have a relationship with us, one where we can freely choose to emulate His Attributes of Mercy, learn torah and be kind, as He is kind. The choice is ours. If we have taken a wrong turn, as long as we have breath, we can turn back. Remember, every second is a brand new creation. We can begin the process of learning how to emulate Hashem’s 13 Attributes of mercy and set our will and determination with faith towards that direction TODAY. To do so, we need to go deeply into our being and wrench imagination away from anything less and glue it to emulating Hashem’s 13 Attributes of mercy WITH will, determination, faith and prayer. When we submit our being to His Oneness, we reflect Him into the world and this is pleasure and good. When we permit our energy to operate for ideologies that ultimately do not follow His Will as stated in Torah, we may have great intentions but it will not last, even if we have some success or even success over a period of time. Hashem is very patient. He loves us. The place of the world is the mind of Hashem. Let us do everything we can to assure that our imagination and mind is to bring His Will into time and space.