In his Daas Tevunas series, Rabbi Tatz explains the name of Hashem yud k vav k as meaning Who Was, Who Is, and Who Will Be and Who gives us a time of existence. Hearing those words, Who gives us a time of existence, led me to ask next – what did He give us a time for existence for?
What is so precious about life is that in this world we can accomplish with free will or suffering so very much. Rebbetzin Heller in her shiur on connecting to ourselves on Nov 1 2017 on Jewish Workshops told again of the wicked King Menashe who was the son of Chiszkiayu, a tzaddik, and his wife, the daughter of the prophet Isaiah. He did not heed the words of his holy parents. He served idols. After suffering and almost being killed, he cried out to Hashem and Hashem saved him. He then returned to Hashem in teshuva and served as King another 36 years. Rebbetzin Heller said that the suffering is what he needed – that suffering brings us to humility because we realize that we are not in control, and that helps us reach to Hashem.
Every day we have an inner struggle – who is in the center of our mind before we act? To be truthful, we also must come to terms with the painful reality that we are created with ourselves in the center of our mind, whether we can think of ourselves honestly or not.
The beauty of being willing to admit to Hashem that we think of ourselves first is that we, in that moment of confession, inherently understand that our “condition” is a false one that we wish to shed. Our hearts may run like teenagers after a teen idol to whatever seems best for the “me,” but when we cry it out to Hashem, we are basically asking Him to help us free our desires from attaching to a deception that “me” is in control.
We are basically asking Him to please have mercy on us because we trust Him and understand how He has hidden in this world to give us free will. We ask that He to please help us place our will overlayed with His Will so that we may take our name off the deception that might otherwise lead us to a damaging action.
The deception that we are connecting to is also a false belief, a creative suggestion that usually reveals our worst fears and lack of trust in Hashem, our most cynical interpretation. Why? It is the voice of Amalek, who strikes when we feel doubt. And that puts out the fire of love we feel for Hashem, dampening the relationship we have with Hashem.
The antidote is Torah. If a person does not realize that the Torah is the antidote, then what makes sense when a person feels a lack and that their survival is at stake is for the person to pull out blazing guns and start shooting “in self-defense.” Because the “me” is in the center and not Hashem, all feelings of justification are questionable out of bias and distortion. One person’s perceived well being over another person’s perceived well being is inconsistent with everyone being given a time of existence by the One Who Was, Is and Always Will Be. There is nothing but Hashem and He alone decides who will survive and how.
Thus, coming out with guns blazing to defend oneself from hurt or damage may not be the best impulse to follow. Firstly, the bias must be investigated and the reason Hashem has sent the challenge understood in terms of Torah, avodah and middos.
Often we love ourselves so much, and we feel so “right” in our judgments, that we don’t really see that what we are about to do might damage and that our motivation is not purely for what is good in the eyes of Hashem.
Mounds of energy fall into the whirlpool funnel of fighting for survival with ways that are damaging rather than solicitous of Hashem’s help. And we suffer. Hashem made the world so that the suffering atones for us, so that the world can reach its perfection whether we make the choices we are capable to make in producing positive influence, or whether we fall into the traps that lead to suffering, a suffering that atones for the negative influences that we unwittingly create.
Being aware spiritually means that we are able to see our truths about our deceptions. Only when we have in mind the truth can we build something positive. Until then, we are lost in the dark of a dream or nightmare.
Thus can we understand others as well as ourselves. We are born to overcome the natural impression that we exist independently from Hashem, a natural impression that made every soul in the 974 generations before the creation of the world chayiv misa, sentenced to death, for the aveira of avoda zara, thinking we are autonomous independent beings, separate from Hashem.
How many times a day do we have THAT thought? How many times a day are we acting on that as our basis rather than even notice that the “me” is in the center, not Hashem?
How many times a day do we tell ourselves rationalizations for why we had to eat this, buy that?
We must strive for truth. Hashem wants us to find the flaw through which our soul falls into the hands of the natural – into the crafty hand of the empowered yetzer hara whose job it is to create resistance and tests so that we can bring ourselves to a more refined and humble place where instead of revealing the “me” we reveal Hashem’s 13 attributes of mercy?
And if we don’t have the emunah or trust in Hashem or awareness to strive for truth, what tools are left to us?
Who will stick up for us in a pinch? Our professionals, lawyers, doctors, etc? Our family members? Our community members? Our money? Our education? Where are we placing our trust – what is the predicted success rate?
Once we take Hashem out of the center, once emunah and bitachon are not our first line of survival, who steps in with “good advice?” And how will that help us rectify our characteristics to bring us more and more distant from our natural animalistic thinking and closer to a refined thinking based on Torah and Hashems 13 attributes, in Whose image we are made so that we may reveal that compassion into the world?
Are we protecting thinking that is Torah based or do we seek to secure a way of life that we define based on “me?”
In this week’s parsha, Sodom and Gomorra were doomed to destruction because the society outlawed altruism and everyone asserted that “for the protection of the community members.” They did not want to do chesed because they did not want collectors coming for their funds. They did not want to give hospitality. It went against their belief that what they had was theirs and that giving would only bring more collector types to drain their money. Did they succeed? Perhaps for awhile that society existed, but it did not survive. Hashem sent an angel to destroy it.
When we latch onto the “me” in the center, we push Hashem out of the center and act in ways that add layers of concealment.
Once the “me” is in the center, anything that disagrees with the “me” feels like threat and that stirs the wrecking ball survival instincts in us. Because it feels like survival, it feels as though we are justified and correct in protecting our position.
It is necessary to investigate every step of the thinking…who is in the center, is what I am assuming true or imagination? If imagination, why does it feel like the right thing to do, what is my desire? Is that desire following Torah or fallen interests? Do I have the strength to admit I have been “selfish” and self deceiving or am I blinded by my desire and survival instinct thinking that I must respond and win?
If we correct our thinking, then we have succeeded in breaking emunah into our hearts for it to flow into our actions. If we do not correct our thinking, we may have a time to exist but never find the reason Hashem gave us that time.
Eternity is much longer than 120 years. What are we doing? Why are we not sweating to build the emunah to confess our shortcomings and return all energies to the absolute pleasure of revealing Hashem into this world? Why do we think that a cynical attitude will keep us balanced and grounded in life or that being so means we are practical and realistic? Nothing is more practical than being connected to the Source of existence and everything in existence.
May we all strengthen ourselves in emunah and do the sweat breaking self investigation necessary to truly serve Hashem and upgrade ourselves from a time of existence to eternal life.