Purifying our thoughts and emotions during Shovavim – a plan?


Have you ever seen someone shape balloons into all different types of animals?  One balloon can, with a twist of the wrist, develop two sections, both filled with air.  From there, the artist can twist more balloons into the first building amazingly beautiful creations.


Perhaps that original twist is a good analogy for our existence, a soul and a body tied together, yet filled with the same substance.  If we do not comprehend the twist in the middle, perhaps the substances might identify only with the portion of the balloon in which it is trapped.  Yet with a twist of the wrist in the other direction, all the air in the balloon rushes back together and fills the balloon as one, mixing together.


The analogy that I see and am trying to share is the light that is within us due to Hashem creating both our soul and our body.  He is the Source of all.  Despite the myriads and myriads of varying atoms, molecules, objects, people and elements, it is all filled from One Source.


What is diversified in appearance hides its Creator.  What a man can do by recognizing the Creator is to add a love and mercy from the Creator Himself to the world that strengthens and reveals the truth, His Mercy, His Lovingkindness.


It is the twist of the wrist that cuts us off from unifying our soul – and I would like to suggest that Hashem has created an inclination, a designer in our mind’s imagination, that prefers to just deal with the world as it presents itself. Why?


To undo the twist of the wrist that divides our soul and body into an appearance of separate desires requires both love of Hashem and trust in Hashem.  Our natural existence does not believe enough in our abilities of prayer to realize that Hashem is our Father, the Ruler, Who wants to answer.  Hashem is waiting for us to ask. How do we ask?


How CAN we ask when we do not fully comprehend what it means to take responsibility for our lives?  The level of responsibility that I am suggesting is a level of realizing that prayer is the ONLY avenue for reaching Hashem, the ONE Who controls the entire world.  What blocks us from this realization?


The Torah teaches us that there are three names for what take us out of relationship with Hashem…kina/jealousy; taiva/lusts and desires; and kavod/pursuing honor.


Let’s just get quiet for a moment and remember a time when we felt each.

Ready?  Pause this video and remember a time of kina.  Now pause and remember a time of desire.  Now pause and remember a time when we felt dishonored or desired honor.  Now imagine them together.  Do you see a common characteristic?  Please pause again.  Search deeply.  Be honest.  I want you to feel the similarity between these three.  Is it self-consciousness?  Is it self-absorption?  Give it a name, if you see the similarity.  Now pause the video again and try to describe it in terms of its flow…is it flooding you?  Does it blow through you?  Does it bring sadness or anger/fear?  Is it solid or airy?  Does it feel bounded or unbounded?  Does it urge you to defend yourself or speak poorly of others, denigrating them?  Does it prod you to condemn and feel sorry for yourself?  Whatever it is, make a mental note.  Pause this video.  Please have a clarity that this presenting capsule of self-oriented images is a part of the soul that is cut off by that twist of the wrist from being unified with Hashem and the whole neshama.  It is unbounded and ready to proceed as if it could do without anything else, as long as it can come up with a way to stop something outside that is triggering the matter.   Please pause the video and see that the feeling is untrue.  We do not have control over the externalities and the solution to what is triggered does not lie with anyone else.


Rather please take a moment and ask yourself if you believe that if all the light present, both trapped in the false images as well as in the neshama, were to be unified, that doing so serves Hashem and IS the reason Hashem has sent the challenge.  Do we really believe that our lives are about rectifying what causes the twist in the wrist to remain twisted?  If so, how committed are we to dedicating our will in prayerful beseeching that Hashem should please help us straighten out our impulses so that our soul and His Name may be unified, that our speech and deeds should please reveal His Mercy?


We need imagery to counter the false images that develop due to the twists in our lives.  At the center of all the imagery we need is His Name, a process of doing battle with the designer that wants to keep us trapped in the common denominator of jealousy, lust, and pursuit of honor.  It seems to me that all three share the characteristic of a type of lust, of something we yearn for that is lacking, that we deem we need, that we pursue with survival instincts as if our lives depend upon its attainment, despite the obvious falseness of that as true.


Lust comes under the category of unbounded chesed, a kindness that we desire to be focused upon ourselves, a gratification that we are trying to satisfy, something that is compelling us to pursue as something we believe we cannot live without.  We need a boundary to chesed, which takes gevurah, strength, and then a balance and ultimately, the boundary and the self-discipline filter through to the foundation of our lives, in the area of the briss and in the area of our speech.


The time of shovavim is a time when we are to work on purifying the area of the briss and the area of our speech.  Let us ask, in preparation for Passover, as we read about the Egyptian exile and our redemption from Egypt – where am I unbounded?  Where do I run after something I desire that I feel is good without boundaries on what I will say or do in pursuit of its attainment?  Pause for a moment and consider this question.


Now think of something that would absorb some of the overflowing unbounded water/desire.  What would ground it in Hashem, in Torah?  What Torah principle would provide a boundary that makes sense?  What image speaks to the urge in a way that will sink in?  Perhaps this is a goal for the next six weeks.


May each of us consider this deeply and come up with a boundary for a place we are unbounded due to a lacking/lust and may our grounding it in Torah out of love and awe help us develop imagery to truly shift the impulse of the midda and affect our outward expressions to reveal instead Hashem’s lovingkindness. And may we soon see a new light in the world with the ultimate redemption.

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