In order to give us real free will Hashem has designed a soul in a body that has neurology based on its perceptions and learning in time and space. Our neurology responds to our senses and forms impressions in our mind, and our interpretations of these impressions become beliefs. It is incumbent upon us to comprehend our condition so that we may properly use free will and the emunah of our soul to create true beliefs and impress these upon our mind and bring them to our hearts.
It is said that we are all intended to be bale teshuva. Perhaps we can understand how by understanding the purpose of our life, to refill our minds with upgraded beliefs. When we submit our natural impressions to the wisdom of Torah and choose to have a relationship with Hashem through unifying His Name (and thereby completing our soul and the world), that submission of impressions and choice to cling to Hashem are the effort that is our service to Hashem. Success is up to Hashem. What does success look like? Some would say clarity, others taanug/pleasure, and those who are well versed in Torah who have success may reach a level of ruach hakodesh.
How can we begin a journey when our starting point might be to trust in our own beliefs and education?
Have you ever noticed that no matter how old we get, we still think of ourselves as we were as, perhaps, young adults? We are shocked to look in the mirror. The vitality that we feel identifies as we did when we are youthful, albeit we may grow in wisdom. Our soul does not feel aged as we approach senior years. Hopefully, however, our hearts are able to retain more Simcha and less worry, as we see Hashem’s Omnipotence and comprehend what our life purpose has been and continues to be, each one unique, yet each one in relationship to Hashem’s Will over our natural impulses.
At the root of our confusion comes our impulses that get triggered when something from the outside does not confirm our image of ourselves, confronting us. What happens then? Our brain neurology begins to design where the danger is coming from and sends danger signals to the heart that blow through our body in what feels like an immediate moment. We are triggered!
Let’s analyze that perception that our image of ourselves has been confronted. Did we not get something we want and believe we deserve? Did someone take an action to which we feel insulted or disrespected or unloved? Something else?
What we are trying to hold in this analysis is that wordless impulse. Does it rise up? Does it blow through us? Do we feel sad? Does it leave us longing for something to gratify us that we believe we need? Pausing here to comprehend the impulse, we can then describe it out loud to Hashem – remember our primary avodah is to have a relationship with Hashem and use free will and the emunah of our soul to create true beliefs and bring them to our hearts.
When we view ourselves as souls who have access to physicality for the purpose of completing our soul and the world, bringing these impulses to an analysis of their nature so that we may cry it out to Hashem makes sense. Our physicality is naturally blocking the truth – that all there is in the world is Hashem, Who is the only Being that actually lives, Who has all the power, and Who only does good! Thus, even when we do not understand, turning to Hashem in gratitude for our lives activates the emunah that can, if Hashem deems it, bring us inner joy and completion.
What about what triggered us? Who is going to address that? When we remember to serve Hashem in the moment, and when we do His Will, He does our will.
The feeling of lack inevitably triggers the natural egoistic thinking that develops as a soul in a body in time and space. The ego can be upgraded into an eternal identity when it is willing to let go of its local perspective and realize that what Hashem wants is better for us than what we think we want.
What is actually happening in this upgrade to our ego?
At the root of our ego is a broken shard from the world of tohu that thinks we exist independently and that it is imperative that we exist. This is what needs to be brought through Torah to rectification. Rabbi Aryeh Nivin www.newchabura.com teaches us that in order to be successful, we have to “speak its language” meaning the language of fallen (local perspective) imagery. Rabbi Doniel Katz also teaches this, that we affect the unrectified midda (impulse) by first connecting to chochma and providing alternative imagery that now can sink into the midda. Using our imagination to develop counter-imagery based on Torah “speaks” the language that an unrectified midda might be able to acquire from.
Now that unrectified midda, that impulse, that our neurology is prone to perceive based on outside stimulation has a chance to move from ego-based to eternal based. What makes the shift?
Rabbi Shalom Arush in his message of gratitude, shows us a way to turn what fills our corrupted negative thinking into a small light, a small ner tamid…and that is a choice to express thanks and gratitude. Gratitude for our suffering recognizes it is all from Hashem (emunah) and our choice to do so, our free willed choice to do so, finds a Torah principle to build an image from that then relaxes the grip corrupted thinking has on the midda. The midda can acquire Hashem’s mercy and, in the same place where we experienced constriction, can instead shine Hashem’s attributes of mercy.
Rabbi Moshe Genuth talks about completing our souls in terms of submitting our will with emunah to Torah, thereby creating an inner vessel that is a conduit a hollow, to transmit Hashem’s Mercy like a pipe, where we experience this higher state called nothingness as taanug. When we use our ratzon to nullify the false sense of autonomy out of love and awe for Hashem, we unify our soul and through that vessel of nothingness, we experience the pleasure that man is created for.
The key ingredient in developing the imagery to filter to our middos is that it be 100 percent Torah. Any variation from that is just another false belief that will not bring about the completion of our soul or the completion of the world. Learning Torah and understanding Hashem’s 13 attributes of mercy become our priority then, for it is in so learning that we may free ourselves from the natural grip the ego has on us that makes us so vulnerable to constriction, pain, suffering and error.
This is a lifelong journey.
As we enter into Shovavim, the six weeks where we read about the exile and redemption, may we each find an area to purify our beliefs and try to free ourselves from the grip of constricted thinking. And may we soon see redemption.