Here are two fascinating shiurim that discuss in understandable ways ideas that help us see our higher purpose and full spiritual role in the universe.
mazal elevation by Gedalia Fenster
When I want something and don’t get it, the frustration of that desire/water triggers a lack that blows immediately through my heart triggering the fire/anger to cling to the inclination to blame and shame the one appearing to deny me my desire.
Just look at a 2 year old reaction. A young child sees a candy on the checkout lane and the parent says no and the child throws a tantrum.
The child at age 2 has no seichel. There is nothing to do in the moment. But the parent in a better moment teaches the 2 year old to say please may I and that no is an answer, and that the parent has a good reason, and that kicking and screaming in any event are not meritorious ways to negotiate.
An adult has seichel though. And more effective negotiation tools. An adult can compromise, an adult can over look what they want in favor of what Hashem wants, accepting the situation as good even without what is apparently lacking.
Yet that seichel does not always operate in the split second when someone is blaming or shaming us, or bulldozing us because they are triggered and feeling a loss that they attribute to “’me”. Instead, we doubt ourselves. And in that moment of doubt comes to mind messages that point our fire either towards ourselves or towards the other person.
How can we keep our fire flowing to Ahavas Hashem in our heart when we feel under attack and have the inclination to attack back or to tell ourselves negative messages about who we are and what we did, a part of us believing the expression of constriction of the other person and becoming constricted ourselves?
In that moment is an opportunity to counter the reaction by focusing on Ahavas Hashem as what is lacking. We just got disconnected from the soul’s constant mitzvah and connection to love Hashem and fear only Hashem. That is not something to blame ourselves for. That is something to notice, like when we notice a defect in a life preserver and we are in a boat – we return to shore as quickly as possible to restore proper life preservation. Once we notice, we choose to remember love for Hashem, actually opening our mouth in quiet supplication telling Hashem that we are arousing love for Him in our heart until we actually feel that love balloon within us, that we feel that clinging to Him. Now we have the opportunity to “blow” that love through our heart to improve the desire and inclination to blame and shame. How? We describe every detail of what we want and how it is lacking and how we are triggered toward blame, shame, or self-flagillation, all the while maintaining love for Hashem in our hearts in an active felt connection. It is a little hard to hold both because the negativity almost immediately wants to hide or subdue, but talking to Hashem about how our elements of water/desire and fire/anger got hijacked and asking Him to instead help us reassociate whatever part of our soul got lassoed by the inclination to hurt or destroy back to Ahavas Hashem is the task.
When we do this, Hashem has mercy upon us and He helps our soul release from the negative inclinations because we are choosing it sincerely. This service to Hashem helps us form spiritual beings that are there for us the next time and the time after that until we get less and less triggered.
At first, we will just be quicker at spotting our falls. With the steps above done repeatedly, and with Hashem’s help, perhaps we can reach a point where when we experience a jolt because of a lack initiated by another person’s action or inaction, we will see the OTHER person’s pain and pray for them, forgiving them, and asking Hashem to forgive all of us and help us instead reveal His 13 attributes of mercy in the world, starting with me PLEASE because I do not wish to be disconnected from love for Hashem for even one second.
We have to want this more than anything else. What is actually better than revealing Hashem in this world anyway? If there is something that comes to mind, then that is a great place to start unblocking what is blocking us from revealing His Light.
May we understand our desires and the tool of prayer and the wonderful mitzvah of loving Hashem and Hashem is One as the beautiful gifts Hashem has given us in love to reach spiritual maturity and do our avodas Hashem.
The point we are focusing on in our inner world is the natural pull that tells us all the good reasons why we need to say or do something to stand up for ourselves or to protect ourselves even though our words or actions might really tear someone else apart. What is that about?
It seems like our survival is at stake – our survival in time and space that is.
And it might be.
Our survival instincts listen immediately to the tools that we see work the best in time and space. Unfortunately, those tools tend to be quite destructive – just like negative statements about political opponents seems to persuade voters, so too do we listen to our most determined self-oriented positions and put them forward as forcefully as we know how, in self-defense for our lives and/or beliefs.
Here is the false belief – we think our survival is up to us, that our success is in our hands, that we know what is best.
Here is the true belief – survival is determined by Hashem alone, our success is up to Him, and we are in charge of making our best effort to live the truth of the Torah, pray fervently from a place of loving Hashem, and doing mitzvahs and emulating His 13 attributes of mercy.
We have a permanent career as long as we are alive. That career is to positively impact our hearts away from our natural survival instincts in favor of removing from within us what is blocking Hashem’s 13 attributes of mercy from being revealed through our speech and deeds.
Within each of us is a place that at this very moment loves Hashem with great passion. Do we feel it? Can we keep that love for Hashem in focus every moment, or at least more and more? If not, what is blocking it from being expressed?
May we cry from the places that are blocking us and beseech Hashem to please instead unify our soul to reveal Him. And may we soon see a new light, a light of Moshiach and utopia in this world.
How can we approach a task to repair a characteristic that streams from a location outside of time and space when we are bounded by a lifetime and a body?
How can we be required to return a holy spark from a world that broke apart before this world was created?
How can we take responsibility for repairing and healing an energy that flows through us when all we feel we can take responsibility for is how we conduct ourselves when we experience that feeling?
How can it possibly be that we will be judged as an unrectified energy that we have not uprooted from influencing our neurology and living in our hearts?
Let’s use, for example, the destructive thoughts we might have when we are legitimately and rightfully mistreated. The Torah tells us right away to not bear a grudge, to not hate another Jew.
We are forewarned and we can intellectually understand that, but how do we return to our hearts a true calm where that hatred is dissipated? It feels as though it is being pumped in from an outside source, automatically flowing through every atom in our being as our heart pumps. Where is the off button?
Rabbi Ittamar Schwartz, the author of Bilvavi and the website www.bilvavi.org has a whole book on the elements within us, earth (solid), water (liquid), wind(gas) and fire (radioactive). In the example above, we are speaking about fire, which can provide warmth and light but which also can be extremely devastating and destructive, as we see right now in the California fires.
Here we are, in a body, space, for a lifespan, time. These are boundaries that are placed on our soul (which is eternal) so that we have a glancing opportunity of 120 years to really affect the world so that Hashem can be seen rather than hidden within this world.
Why don’t we just go and find the switch to our angry and fearful heartfelt reactions and turn them off?
The power of speech unique to mankind is the source of the solution – heartfelt prayer! Speech is the tool to transcendence.
The answer is a bit confusing, because we have no direct ability to affect these elements yet we have the ability to heal them through our heartfelt crying out to Hashem – beseeching Him to please save us from the ill effects within our heart and to modify the element – with the intentional love for Him in our heart from where we are simultaneously crying out even as we see how bound up the anger and fear is within us. (we hold both feeling of love for Hashem and the anger or fear open in our heart) . We tell Hashem that we wish to utilize the energy from the anger and fear to reveal His Light, with warmth, with Torah, with kindness and mitzvahs.
Hashem is merciful and HE modifies the energy and we experience a calmness.
Here is a description of how it feels to me when my survival instincts trigger a fight response or even something small like stand up for what I want and work towards that goal. If I first do not think to myself, am I doing this for Hashem or am I doing this for myself, then usually what happens is the lasso of self-interest captures the fire and ties it to the bricks of time and space and sinks me to the riverbed. The waters of life run over my head and I am stuck in despair, feeling like a victim. All the amazing messages that the yetzer hara cunningly used to lasso my energy with prove themselves to have been deceiving and futile. How do we proceed when we are now so stuck in the mud in compliance with the yetzer hara’s vision rather than what we had set out to accomplish?
We describe out loud, in detail, how we got there and our regret. We tell Hashem that we really want to use the fire for serving Him but we just don’t know how we can do it when these are the circumstances…and name them in detail..and tell Him that we know that He has sent this so that we can refocus from the time and space circumstances to this matter of our heart. Tell Him that we wish to rectify our heart to serve Him in truth.
The more detail we renounce as having lassoed our heart, the more we see how we can transcend time and space through prayer.
Through prayer, which uses speech, we form beings that help us! We are more able to resist the arguments of the evil inclination that constantly flows through time and space. We take our “name” off of its suggestions, as we turn away from its false promises of success.
If we are sincere, then we have more help avoiding the lasso of the yetzer hara that wishes to capture our heart for the goal of sticking us in the mud. Once we see that Hashem helps us when we cry out, that we can transcend time and space, we have a new understanding about this world and our role in making it possible for Hashem to be revealed in time and space through our devekus, by our clinging to Him, in prayer and in love for Him. For love for Hashem is ALSO a transcendent energy that exists in our heart, awaiting our activating it, our seeking it out, our using this characteristic of the soul to beseech Hashem to heal us so that HE can be revealed, so that we can unblock what blocks Him from being revealed in the world.
May we face each day with a feeling of empowerment that we CAN change the world and may we soon see that new light!
Tishrei is drawing to a close. From now until Rosh Hashana, we can reflect back upon our thinking over the past two months to inspire us.
The struggle continues.
Shall I trust my instincts and make plans based on goodly, self-conscious goals?
Shall I, with full awareness of the feelings and urges that I am experiencing, elect to subjugate them to a mitzvah or to emulating Hashem’s 13 attributes of mercy?
Are these, indeed, in conflict?
Here is a good guiding question. Is what I am about to say or do going to give Hashem nachas?
Obviously, there is no time to ask such questions when we are steering a car out of danger or moving to catch a falling object or child. There is a place for natural instincts. But are our natural instincts to be followed unilaterally?
We may be insulted or hurt by someone and our survival instincts are suggesting a response. This would be a good moment to ask, Is what I am about to say or do going to give Hashem nachas?
We may be afraid that the viewpoint of another person is going to violate our rights and we may wish to set boundaries or communicate disapproval in a clear way intending to intimidate. Again, is our conduct going to give Hashem nachas….even if it is a Torah principle, is the way to the goal that we are choosing an effort that Hashem will grant success to while receiving nachas from us?
Perhaps we might feel that giving Hashem nachas in our particular circumstance does not make the top 10 priorities involved.
Let’s look at that.
When we fully comprehend and trust that Hashem is 100 percent in control 100 percent of the time, that He is the only Being that is actually alive, that He determines the circumstances and is all powerful, that Divine consciousness fills us with awe – and giving Him Nachas seems like the way to go. What holds us back?
We are souls given a space, a body with human nature/self-consciousness, and a lifetime where we have real free will to give Hashem nachas or not. Hashem does not need nachas from us. He is unchanged by our conduct. When we give Hashem nachas, WE are changed and that is the crucial point.
Being in time and space, we lock into our life in time and space as if we are in control and as if we determine the outcome of our circumstances. When our survival instincts are stirred up, what do we hear? It is your responsibility to take care of this, it is up to you. How are you going to handle this? Yet, there is a deeper more urgent but less apparent question. What is it that Hashem wants from us in this moment? The constricted experience is for my good – Hashem only sends good – and the circumstances all look bleak and hopeless. So what is it that Hashem wants from me?
Rooted in our hearts are holy sparks from a fallen world, the world of Tohu that we read about in Bereshis this week. These unrectified sparks are in need of being “processed” through our mind/heart combination to regain Divine consciousness through our free willed choice to serve Hashem.
Although our circumstances can seem bleak, although we may feel our survival and wellbeing are on the line in time and space, although we may feel intimidated or threatened by the circumstances, we have free will to uproot from our heart what locks us in to time and space solutions as survival and instead ask ourselves why is Hashem sending this test to me? What holy spark in my heart is locked into its own existence in time and space so much that I would consider taking the action I am considering that might cause unknown damage?
Why am I so willing to overlook a Torah principle in favor of this choice – is my commitment to methods of time and space really what will save me and quiet my survival instincts? Why is that commitment in this moment seeming like more of a priority than giving Hashem nachas and uprooting what is blocking me from reflecting Hashem’s mitzvahs or 13 attributes of Mercy into this matter? Why am I not remembering zechus Avos, Torah (Yaakov) Avoda (Yitzchok) and Chesed (Avraham)?
Do I really see myself as connected to Hashem through being made in the image of the 13 attributes of mercy? Is that what I am in touch with regarding my survival, that He is the One who loves, cares for, and protects me? Am I willing to even ask Hashem to help me let go of the image that I have of myself that relies more on time and space issues, even if it seems impossible for me to do and still live? Do I feel the strength of the damaging element in my heart, that holy spark, that is, in fact, eternally in need of being reconnected to avodas Hashem rather than just gaining expression in time and space? Am I willing to begin a pathway that transcends time and space by trying to give Hashem nachas and then drawing light into this part of my heart?
We have our work cut out for us, but I hope it is helpful to lay out the options. At least when we have a challenge, we can turn to this tool as a possible guide to help us choose.
Wishing everyone a year of growth in emunah, bitachon, simchas haChaim and giving Hashem nachas!
The love we have in our heart for Hashem is what speaks the language of our heart when we are cornered in our negative fears and reactions.
It wipes away our tears.
So much of our pain and distress stems from imagination that has left out the important ingredient that Hashem is all good, that He loves us, that He is all that really exists, and that we are only experiencing life in the manner that He designs in order to earn the full pleasure of having no confusion of mind after 120 years.
How long can we spend in a dark hole, rebuking ourselves, judging and condemning others, fearing retribution for being imperfect, ready to lash out at those who we imagine are posing a threat?
How long can we spend defending ourselves, imagining what we will say in our own defense, trying to protect ourselves from the damaging urges felt by those whose feelings WE hurt?
How long can we condemn others for not seeing our changes and letting go of their pain that we generated?
What if we could boil all of this down to a simple solution – love Hashem!
Every scene above involves water wind fire and earth, solid liquid gas and radioactive/fire.
Every skewed emotion is a part of our soul that retains “automatic” trust in the messages of the unconscious and subconscious, which is the domain of the yetzer hara. When we have “me” in mind, that means the yetzer hara has access to our entire being, blowing its unconscious and subconscious “good” advice through from our mind to our heart. When we intentionally arouse love for Hashem, we intentionally affect the constricted thinking and bring it back to truth. We heal our hearts from the grips of being “kidnapped” by the yetzer hara that dictates to all of us the basic self-oriented beliefs about survival – arousing love for Hashem then blows through the heart and the false presentation of the circumstances along with the core false belief that our survival depends on us fall away, like husks off a fruit. We can develop a heart of flesh.
May what I am writing here touch the hearts of the reader and inspire the reader to build themselves in emunah and bitachon, in trust and reliance on Hashem. The science is simple. Hashem fills solid, liquid, gas and fire. We are that. Hashem fills us. We have free will to acknowledge the truth and redeem ourselves from the consequences of falling into our own constricted thinking.
And may we dance with Moshiach this Simchas Torah.
It is Hoshana Rabba.
It is a time to continue teshuva – returning to emulating Hashem’s 13 attributes of mercy instead of our own biased self-oriented reactions.
We are given a body – a space into which a soul is placed.
We are given a lifespan – a time when we have consciousness and free willed choice.
The soul that is given to us at all times knows only the goodness and love of Hashem, despite the glancing 120 year experience we are given in time and space that obscures the truth, that all there is in the world is Hashem, Whose utterances form a world in which He is hidden, so that we have free will to remember Him.
When water fills a cup, we see the difference between the water and the cup. One is liquid. The other is solid. It is a clear boundary.
When a soul fills a body, it is not as clear because a body has liquid, solid and gaseous parts and the soul fills all the parts.
What we want is for the entirety of our soul to cling to its root in Hashem’s 13 attributes of mercy, which means that it does not cling instead to the natural draws of time and space.
Hashem is above time and space and He is in total control of time and space.
What happens in a second? Something or some thought is present. Then, because of our perceptions and neurology, we have a reaction in “space”. Where will our soul attach – to the messages generated from the processes of being a body in time and space, or from the constant awareness of Hashem’s Torah, fervent prayer, and a yearning to emulate Hashem’s 13 attributes of mercy?
Will we listen to the deceiving messages or will we remember?
Each year we attempt more and more to bring to our hearts the ability to remember something more, rescuing more of our soul from its natural tendencies to react based on bias. Water, desire, lust and greed, is to cling to kindness and love for Hashem. Wind, the arrogance we can feel, the honor we can crave, those jealous moments, is to cling to Hashem’s Oneness. Fire, the fears, the destruction we think of when we judge, is to cling to the light of Torah to bring warmth and gentle light. And earth, the sadness, the laziness, the habits, is to cling to using our physicality with gratitude to reveal Hashem’s love.
On Hoshana Rabba, our year receives the final seal.
May we reiterate and commit to a year where we yearn to be more and more free of personal bias and more in line with Torah and His 13 attributes of mercy.
It seems to me that the most important focus we can have in our inner struggles regarding ethical actions is the battleground itself. The more we can understand the battleground in layout and in the unique content each heart brings to that layout, the better off we will be in extricating our soul from error.
In previous discussions, we have gone through how there is only one Being Who is alive. The life that we experience is proof positive that there is One Being Who is alive, because there is absolutely no way science can detect what life itself is. We can enumerate characteristics of things that are alive, like a heartbeat, brain function, and more, but what life is itself is undefinable. We have an experience of life because the One Being that is alive gives us a body with perceptions which touch a nervous system which records memory. Yet that is not life itself. Rather it is our lifetime, our life experience, or even our life mission or work. What IS our real life, meaning the life we create and build from this lifetime, is determined by our will to utilize this lifetime in the manner that the One Being that is alive instructs us so that He can give us an eternal life that we will feel joy and Simcha in receiving because we chose while in this lifetime to learn Torah, pray for help, and emulate Him.
That summary said, lets zoom in more deeply on the battlefield.
The observation for today is to explore a theory about the core of what causes us to experience pain from the poor choices of others. For discussion sake, lets consider that what triggers us in fear or anger the most is what appears to be a threat to our ability to utilize successfully our coping mechanisms to survive. What could be more intimidating than someone directly utilizing power and force to demonstrate their ability to counter our best tool to protect ourselves, our family, our community, our country, or our beliefs?
Do you agree?
If so, we can proceed.
What I want to show here is that the One Being Who is alive is the only Being that determines our survival. The reason this is important is so that when we are on this battlefield, we can serve Him.
If I become angry, insulted, afraid, hateful, outraged, or out of control with aggressiveness, it is because part of the life force that the One Who is alive allows me to experience has latched on to the illusion that I have the ability to determine my own survival on my own. The subtle difference between understanding He is the ultimate determining factor in my survival and not my coping mechanisms or powerful tactics is the battlefield from which my actions will be based. To the degree that I fall into the trap of associating my actions based on life force connecting to “ME” as the cause of my survival, the more pain and suffering I will experience when I am out powered and unable to counter a more forceful opponent. That is because by connecting to ME, I have actually weakened my soul, not strengthened it. How? I have invested parts of the life force given to me in an illusion that is called by my lifetime name as the real self when in fact the lifetime is but a temporary existence being uttered only by the One Who Lives so that my real self can choose to associate with Him over the natural appearing me. If a person puts a penny in an empty jar, it rattles and makes a lot of noise, but it is not necessarily more valuable than a penny in a full jar. The particles of our soul, because man was created on the sixth day, have the potency to affect all of the created things that were uttered into existence prior to man, because Hashem creates man from all the created things, be they solid, liquid, gas or radioactive/fire. The elements of our soul can have a positive or a negative influence on solid, liquid, gas or radioactive/fire atoms throughout the world. This is why it is important to guard our souls from running after the messages that would attach us to false beliefs about where our survival comes from. If we lose connection to the truth that He Alone determines Who survives, we leave out a crucial step in whatever coping mechanisms, powerful tools or action steps we rely on. That crucial step is crying out to Hashem and remembering that we are without Him nothing but an empty vessel He creates from the dirt. The reason crying out is so important is because it places our natural tendencies towards ME back into reality that He Alone lives and we beseech Him to bless our efforts to positively affect the world by bringing Torah and His Mercy into all our speech and deeds.
By regaining divine consciousness, the murkiness that draws our life force to attach to it and which gives us anger, fear, humiliation, outrage and more becomes an opportunity to create positive influence, according to His Will, and we indeed show Him our love for Him, our deep love not just for all the beauty and pleasure of a lifetime in this miraculous world, but for His Will itself. He desires a being that can relate to Him and choose to create positive influence in the world, even if our natural urge is towards a survival message that sprouts from a negatively charged place. That charge is something we can extricate and bring instead to serve His Will and create positivity. How? By remembering that He Alone provides love, care and protection and He has many ways of doing so.
It takes emunah to rely on Hashem and Torah learning to truly know that man is given the ability to create a positive or a negative influence.
This is the landscape.
Now the battlefield is full of our individual traumas and personal experiences. Spiritual maturity would be our effort to start the process of investigation to truly see Who is it that has given us love, care and protection, albeit we may have the false belief that it was our own hand.
The part of us naturally drawn towards the me will go along when it has no other choice, out of a desire for relief from the pain it experiences. The higher soul though is IN for the joy of infusing divine consciousness into the elements of the soul that are deficient in being able to retain awareness that He is One.
An example of this is the evil King Manashe who was an idol worshiper and as he was being boiled alive, in desperation, decided to cry out to Hashem for help even though he denied him all his life. The angels did not want his prayer to be heard but Hashem drilled a hole under His Throne and allowed the prayers to enter and accepted the prayers and the King was saved. Manashe did teshuva after that as well.
May we all find the time to see through our own deceiving thoughts that would encourage us to rely on the ME as if we could just by building a strong, powerful, insured, reliable society or network. May we instead see that the simple act of recognizing the One Living Being above actually enhances our insights in building strong systems because they are based on truth and not on the power of the hand of mankind.
And may our eyes upwards result in a positive influence in the world that will bring a new light and utopia.
Later in the day from when this was written, Rabbi Dror posted this three minute clip from a shiur he had given in August of 2017. I thought it was far better said on the same point that I am trying to bring out.
For more from Rabbi Doniel Katz click here