Also listen to the audio translations of the derech of Rabbi Asher Freund, especially the Sept 13, 2017 class http://beyondanydoubts.com/2016/05/05/the-derech-of-rabbi-usher-freund-readings/
This weekend at the Hidabroot convention in Stamford, Connecticut Rabbi Krohn gave a shiur on Shabbos about how to improve our prayer. He told several powerful stories and showed us where in our Shemona Esrai and daily davening we are empowered to remain connected in the manner that the stories model. One of the most powerful segments refers back to the Al Tira paragraph that is right after Aleinu, when we are concluding our tefillos. The remark about this paragraph that made such an impression upon me is that in that paragraph, Hashem tells us “ I created you and I shall bear you, I shall endure and rescue.”
Every day we are to remind ourselves that our survival is dependent upon Hashem and no other.
Before we say the Shema, we say “…teach us, Our Father the merciful Father, Who acts mercifully have mercy upon us, instill in our hearts to understand and elucidate, to listen, learn, teach, afeguard, erform, and fulfill all the word of Your Torah’s teaching with love. Enlighten our eyes in Your Torah, attach our hearts to Your commandments nd unify our heart to love and fear Your Name, and may we not feel inner shame for all eternity. Because we have trusted in Your great and awesome holy Name, may we exult and rejoice in Your Salvatio. Bring us in peacefulness from the four corners of the earth and lead u with upright pride to our land. For You effect salvations O Hashem. You have chosen us from among every people and tongue. And You have brought us close to Your great Name forever in truth to offer praiseful thanks to You, and to proclaim Your Oneness with love….”
Awe and love – we are here to recognize that He is all that exists and that He gives us the opportunity to tell Him we are willing to serve Him and reconstitute the divine consciousness that is fallen and concealed by the physical world.
We need emunah to move our consciousness from the apparent self to this primal reality. We have more and more trust in the process as we see that our hearts grow in Simcha as we unify His Name in this service.
It is not for us to use our logical and analytical minds to solve the chaos and despair we see. It is up to us to use our hearts to love Hashem and infuse the darkness we feel with the truth that it is all Hashem giving us an opportunity to stir love for Him back into the basic elements that conceal Him.
Our effort to do so is our eternal identity. We take this temporary lifetime and, by serving Him, make repairs to this world so He can be revealed and create an eternal identity of bliss for having remembered to do so over the natural draws of power, honor, wealth, and more.
He alone determines on Rosh Hashana our material existence, health, wealth, and more.
May we understand deeply what our identity truly is and what our lifetime is truly for, and may we lovingly embrace serving Him now, in Elul, with the intention that we desire so much that He be revealed in this material world that in every moment of darkness we see only opportunity to pour out love of Hashem to dispel what appears to be darkness, melting the falsehoods, the shells, and making it possible for His Middos to shine through our speech and deeds.
Shabbos is chai elul, the birthdays of the baal shem tov and Rabbi shneur zalman liadi, the baal hatanya. These great Rabbis brought us the understanding that Hashem is all that exists. He is alive. All else is emanating from Him in different forms in which He is hidden so that the enanation can appear.
It is the middle of elul, the month where we introspect to find where we are operating from consciousness that is out of touch with the reality that Hashem is Existence and there is none else. In His Wisdom Hashem made it possible for us to be blind to His Oneness. Yet He cares very much that the world reach its perfection. He has a fail-safe backup plan if we are not up to the task of seeing through our deceptive perceptions and ego, and that backup plan is suffering, which also brings the world to its perfection. He designs it, so He obviously knows what is required.
As this is being written, the population of Florida is evacuating to northern states because a 600 mile wide category 5 hurricane, called Irma, has been causing devastation in the Caribbean and has a likely path of going up the entire state, both coasts, because of its size and strength. One person has posted the photo that the weather has been posting of the hurricane’s projected possible path, and the cone of the path looks exactly like a shofar.
We know that everything Hashem sends in terms of suffering is to inspire us to do teshuva. With such a beastly storm, we can do teshuva and if we do not succeed, the suffering that this storm could inflict would also move the world closer to the repair that Hashem desires, only through the pathway of pain.
So what type of teshuva would be a complete teshuva? What could possibly slow down the swirling 185 mile per hour winds and shrink the 600 mile wide wind system?
Where are our emotions swirling condemnations? Where are we directing our judgments of others without adding in any compassion or empathy? Where are we not accepting and respecting even those people with obvious personality faults who may oppose our will? How can we bear our pain with the intention of knowing that we do not want the outcomes of our negative destructive tendencies? Are we ready to forgo our powerplays that wield silent suffering on the emotions of others who are invalidated and unable to respond due to a lack of funds or counter-network of support? Are we willing to dissolve our wisdom drawn from understanding and dominating human nature in favor of aligning with real power, the power of Hashem Who creates a world of tikkun in order for us to reach eternal life, Who has all the power and is not impressed by our clinging to the forces He creates as a test for our nature instead of to His Lovingkindness?
Perhaps we are afraid that we have gone too far and cannot return.
Perhaps we are afraid that our history and mistakes have removed us from being able to attain a refreshed heart that desires Him and clings to Him.
Perhaps we don’t really believe that we can survive without what we perceive as the power of our own hand and the use of intelligent networking to build and rule.
When we see something like what is heading toward Florida, we must ask ourselves, how powerful is all that really? Have we tapped into the real Power in the world? Are we too cynical to admit that there is One Being Who is Existence and that we are His Emanations? Do we really think that dominating others through the understanding of human nature is what He is seeking from us?
How many people have we hurt and damaged? Our spouses? Our children? Our co-workers? Our community colleagues? Are we really meant to be so tough? Will our toughness save us on the day of judgment?
The task of tikkun requires us to forgo all other appearing powers. Although Hashem is Elokim and comes into this world only through constriction, He empowers us to know Him and to love Him and by loving Him to be connected to Him. That connection can operate our being as well as our natural instincts. And when we truly choose to actively exude love for Hashem that not only declares our stand, but makes it possible for that lovingkindness, which is an emanation from Him that He plants within us, to be extended to constricted situations and restore to the elements of the world consciousness that He is One.
And the meek shall inherit the world….
Yet the meek are spiritually strong in emunah and bitachon, and although their actions may appear meek, there is nothing meek about being a vessel to bring into the world Hashem’s 13 attributes of mercy.
It is time to lay down our linear thinking on how to survive. Why? Because our survival is not in our hands, and don’t go into a long dialogue about having to do our hishtadlus in order to take care of our adult responsibilities. While we do have to take action, it is not before we center our survival on Hashem alone and will completely to be aligned with His Mercy and Torah, without rationalization, without circumventing the real task of being a metakain, a fixer, of the spiritual energy that cannot retain awareness of Hashem Echad because of Adom’s spiritual fall. When we feel constriction, any jolt or lack, immediately instead of our linear thinking beginning to analyze and devise a counterplan, we activate our emunah muscles and choose the will of our divinely rooted soul to do Hashem’s will and reveal Him over our natural urges. In this way we are saved in a two world picture, for we convert our natural survival instincts into devekus to Hashem and eternal life. And in the process of overcoming the presenting circumstances, we restore spiritual energy to its level before Adom sinned, repairing the world so He can be seen.
Hashem loves us so much, He wants us to succeed so much, He is sending us a picture of a shofar to help us remember to do teshuva, to return our will to His Will, to choose to serve Him as a people who are willing to fix the world in the manner that He Desires.
Let us listen to the sound of picture of the shofar we are seeing, the winds of the hurricane, the utter destruction it has left in its wake, the awareness that our life is very much in His Hands alone, and let us be joyous in the wisdom that we have real free will and are empowered to do this and that we make the effort but success is up to Hashem, for we are but emanations of Him. Everything is.
Our intentional effort to choose love of Hashem and connection over our natural urges to survive is the task at hand. What is holding us back? Will it withstand Divine judgment in a favorable way? Are we too afraid to do a scan? Do we believe Hashem loves us and wants to refresh our hearts?
Do we sincerely want Him to give us a good year to do His Will and be better vessels for revealing His Mercy? What is holding us back?
May we scan ourselves well and yearn for the fresh heart He desires to give to us, and may we merit to see a new light in this world, b’ahava, from the sincere love we exude in relationship to Hashem.
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