Is it time to ask, have we overlooked the reality that free will and choice are under attack and may not survive?
When our minds experience murder as a result of one person using their best judgment of free willed choice to stop another person from living in a way that they feel they have clarity is not permissible, the repeated pattern over and over creates a new thought habit in our head…I want to do x but I better not because so and so might kill me for my view…our choice is not really a choice to do the right thing because of a yearning to align with truth and justice and value, our choice is reduced to having no choice and feeling that we must do what another expects or off with your head… Does anyone remember when our minds were searching for truth and open to truth and even if we were not searching we knew that there is a truth out there that is good and loving even if we are not choosing it in the moment? Does anyone remember when people cared enough to try to help us get on a truthful path because it was good for us? Does anyone experience the feeling of patience and love that Hashem has for us because He wants US to choose to love Him?
In a world where there is my way or the highway thinking, it affects all of us. And that impact is that if a person chooses a belief system and someone else disagrees vehemently, the person experiences shame and has fear of loss of life or status. This is not the basis of America.
America was formed because people wanted freedom for the four inches between our ears. If our inner world is subject to threats from others who disagree with our thoughts so strongly they are willing to die to kill us, our basic freedom of choice has been affected.
The goal of free will is so that we use it to choose to bring Torah and Hashem’s compassion into the world. When we understand that we are nitrogen and carbon particles and that He is doing everything, we pray that He lead us in the way He wants us to go, which is to bring something through us that reveals His lovingkindess.
As unexciting as that sounds, it actually is the most exciting and joyous approach because when we understand to pray and cling to Hashem, we become a channel through which such compassion comes into the world that we experience that compassion in a way that can be known experientially. It is clear that no one receiving compassion from us would suffer or experience pain. Instead both parties would understand Who Hashem is and realize that a person can bring something truly beneficial to the world and be a blessing to the world.
This requires of us to realize that in every second, there is danger at the door and that danger is the powerful force trying to rule our lower being based on the thinking of the lower being before it has time to reconnect to Hashem’s will. The lower being on its own does not stop and submit its pain to Hashem beseeching Him for clarity and for guidance in how to respond The lower soul simply reacts angrily, with fear based on its judgment and desire to dominate the other party’s choice.
The truth about being born with speech and free will is that we can scientifically apply these gifts to remain connected with the Giver of speech and free will, the Giver of life itself as wel as every happiness and all blessings. Even though our lives are limited, our souls remain alive in another world and we will be very glad that here, where we had real free will, we chose to serve Hashem’s will. All we have to do is stop and consider how to call out to Hashem and let Him know we are interested in aligning our life with His Truth.
Living with free will and choice without awareness of Hashem’s love for us blinds us to one of the most important choices, the most important choice in fact, that we have – to have a relationship with the most loving Being Whose love for us provides blessings beyond our wildest understandings not only in every pleasure we have or could ever imagine but with the pleasure of the experience of being a loving being like He is.
Parshat Devarim: The Spiritual Wars of Israel
Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rabbi Herschel Reichman
In Parshat Devarim, Moshe discusses the sin of the spies and then mentions the judges who were appointed to help him. He recounts, “I told them to be fair and honest judges and to carry out the laws of Hashem in the right way.” Chazal ask why Moshe goes off on this puzzling detour.
The Arizal teaches that the physical world is only a reflection of many spiritual worlds above. This idea is not unique to Judaism. Greek philosophers, most notably Plato, wrote about the concept of the ideal in some other sphere working its way into the reality of this world. It follows that in order to conquer the physical land of Israel, it needed to be subjugated in the upper world.
When the Jewish people are in conflict with another nation, we are actually reflecting a higher spiritual struggle in the upper worlds between the ideals which each of us embodies. Hashem orchestrates our enemies’ confrontations middah k’neged middah. When foreign nations distort justice, it is a reflection of our own weaknesses. It must be that somewhere in our own world we are guilty of injustice. Our external enemy is meant to awaken our internal enemy. Winning the battle against the angels in heaven involves conquering the yetzer hara within us. In fact, the Zohar writes that our worst enemy, Satan, gets its power from our sins.
The Shem MiShmuel explains that there are two types of evil tendencies. The first is evil which is clearly wrong, but it is difficult to overcome, because of our inherent taavot (desires). The second is secret and insidious. The yetzer hara has seven names, but the last one tzefoni-the hidden one, is the worst because it catches us unaware and penetrates deeply into our soul. It appears harmless or even good, much like the chazir who shows his split hooves, but doesn’t chew his cud. Rome signifies this hidden yetzer hara. They represent beauty and culture, but their essence is completely corrupt. Such insidious falsehood can only be overcome with din and emet.
The judges were sent to spy out the land. They were victims of this hidden yetzer hara. They thought they were recounting the truth and saving the Jews from destruction. Instead they caused disaster and mourning. If they would have had emunah, the seven nations would have fled before them. It wouldn’t have been necessary to battle them at all. The meraglim didn’t know this because they weren’t committed to truth in the absolute sense. And that is why Moshe detours from the story of the spies. He admonishes the Jews to be truthful and fair so that they will not come to stumble again.
The Navi writes, “Tzion b’mishpat tipadeh..”- Zion will be redeemed with justice. Defeating our spiritual enemies, whether they are revealed or hidden, means committing ourselves to mishpat and emet. In this way we will defeat not only our own yetzer hara, but the evil angels above who represent distortion.
The Navi writes, “Tzion b’mishpat tipadeh..”- Zion will be redeemed with justice. Defeating our spiritual enemies, whether they are revealed or hidden, means committing ourselves to mishpat justice and emet truth. In this way we will defeat not only our own yetzer hara, but the evil angels above who represent distortion.