The Daas Tevunas teaches us that our primary role as the Jewish People is to reveal the Oneness of Hashem. In so doing it is possible to experience the pleasure of connection to Hashem for which we are designed, to recognize and enjoy Hashem’s flow of lovingkindness.
We say the Shema every day.
What is the dynamic thing, though, that we are intended to do?
What does it mean to unify Hashem’s Name?
What does it mean to unify our soul?
How much do we truly understand what tiferes is?
And how do we bring Torah from our minds to our hearts?
How do the six constant mitzvahs help me serve Hashem in the moment?
What does it mean to nullify the ego?
What does ratzo v’shov mean?
What does shifless and bitul mean?
How are all these related?
And how do I involve myself with these when I am struggling with my feelings and all the challenging circumstances in my life? How is it going to help when it feels like something philosophical rather than practical?
Obviously there is much to learn. It might feel overwhelming. Yet, if we could keep something in focus that every moment could keep us steady and healthy, would that be important to keep in focus?
The context to keep in focus is the mission statement of the Jewish people the Shema, the topic that Daas tevunas emphasizes, that we are here to reveal the Oneness of Hashem.
Without Torah, how would we ever have awareness of such a context? Thank you Hashem for giving us a way to understand and know our universal mission. But how does that actually help keep us steady and healthy? How can we come to see it as practical rather than philosophical?
Having real happiness is a pretty practical goal for most of us.
Having real happiness means not only having what we want materially and physically, but having a happy inner world, an inner world that is not in torment, anxiety, panic, fear, anger, sadness, conflict, frustration and on and on.
So the real question is, how does the universal mission of the Jewish People to reveal the Oneness of Hashem alleviate the internal turmoil? Our involvement with the pursuit to reveal the Oneness of Hashem is actually something we can use our free will to do.
There is a part of our soul that is in constant awareness that Hashem is flowing an outpouring of love and mercy to us and that He is all good. Yet the sensation of that compassion is hidden from us. We do not naturally have sensory access to it. When we know there is Hashem and that He is all good, we know it intellectually. How do we bring it to our hearts?
There is a part of our life force which becomes ensnared in false beliefs and coping mechanisms whose power within our limbic system produces the stormy emotions we feel. The compassion with which our body and soul are made is hidden from us and we feel the impact of our life force through the expressions of pain that it attaches to in lieu of attaching to the truth of Hashem as all good and as outflowing love and mercy. There is no other Power though How can we bring the compassion that is trapped in our painful expressions to express something else?
We see that compassion is hidden from us, both by being unavailable to the limbic system as well as further concealed by the accumulation of false beliefs and coping mechanisms that accumulate due to the development of our intellect in time and space. Torah teaches us that Hashem is One. And trusting that Hashem is One and all good is the mindfulness we need to move forward in the pursuit of feeling and revealing Hashem’s love and mercy.
Whatever the challenge, recognize the simple reality that we are blocked from feeling Hashem is One and all good even though we know that is true.
Then describe all the concealing natural feelings out loud to Hashem, telling Him how we feel and yet we love him and have awe in how He has created us and the world, and we are embracing this opportunity to tell Him we want to feel His love and mercy so that we may reveal it, express it, rather than the turmoil we naturally feel. We may have to breathe through every feeling with love and awe in our heart for twenty minutes or more, in near-silent hisbodidus, dynamically feeling both the turmoil (knowing we wish to usher the trapped compassion back to Hashem) as well as love and awe for Hashem and belief and trust in His Oneness and goodness (knowing that there is a part of us that feels it that we want and ask for access to).
By crying out to Hashem, we acknowledge that we are totally reliant on Hashem for everything – that He is the source of all good and compassion and for all the circumstances and turmoil. We are accepting the role of harmonizing what appear to be opposite beliefs, our natural feelings and what we know is true about Hashem being all good, all loving, and all merciful. We ask Hashem to help us effect a bypass from our natural pursuits based on material and physical reality so that our soul, our compassion, that is bonding immediately with our subjective judgments breaks free and bonds instead with Hashem’s outpouring of love and mercy. This is where our sincerity and breathing and personal prayers and tears, spoken with love and awe, open our limbic system to be able to reveal and express Hashem’s love and mercy rather than an expression of our turmoil.
In so doing, we can learn to guard our eyes and hearts from the natural magnet of material and physical goals that lead us astray. Once the compassion of our soul re-associates with Hashem’s love and mercy, the “evil” cannot survive and simply falls off of us.
The work, however, takes awareness of our flaws. It can take a lifetime. And each of us has our own unique versions and false beliefs. These feel like us until we learn enough Torah to know that we are not our flaws.
What we have in common is the universal mission and the universal truth that we are built to feel and reveal Hashem’s love and mercy through the process of healing the cause of and leaving behind patterns connected with our flaws.
When we trust in that, we are far more empowered to grow, to seek the tools we need to build relationships, and to improve ourselves in general.
The mindfulness and emunah that we can “live in” is for us to find, each person.
Imagine that the compassion within our soul that feels Hashem’s love and mercy can become what our limbic system expresses and reveals rather than our painful turmoil and egoism. Does that sound attractive?
That is the practicality of pursuing the Shema as a dynamic process.
EXCERPTS FROM Bilvavi Unity Talks on Stopping Sinas Chinam
Removing Hatred And Revealing Love
Hatred can also be stopped through the power of thought. The Ibn Ezra asks: How can the Torah command us not to hate another, if it is impossible to control our feelings? He answers that a person must act in a way that will that cause the hatred to be removed. This method, doing actions that foster love, involves the body. “The heart is pulled after actions”,38 because the actions of the body affect the soul. When it comes to eliminating hatred for another, the mind can gain control of the emotions. We can use our da’as of the mind to be aware that in reality, all Jews are all echad (one), and since we are all one unit, there is no place for hatred. As we stated previously, the essence of love is really da’as – the unifying power to make others one with us. This awareness is something only the soul can know since the body cannot comprehend it. The body only cares for itself, and it cannot love, but the mind has da’as, which is aware of our power to unify with others and realize that we are all one. This is how the da’as in the mind affects the da’as in the heart, which in turn affects the emotions of the heart.
The Mind And The Heart
The mind and the heart are two different components. We explained that the emotion of love has two layers to it: the inner layer, da’as, and the outer layer, which is the feeling of love we experience. A separate factor is the mind, which is the root of the physical senses. Our mind cannot feel love, but it knows there is such a thing as unifying with others. What is the difference? The mind is the root of the inner layer of the soul, which is da’as. The heart is the root of both the inner layer (da’as) and the outer layer (emotions) of the soul. Both the mind and the heart can comprehend the power to unify with others, but they are two different forms of comprehension. Our mind can know all the facts, but it can’t internalize facts. What we know in our mind must be internalized in the heart. The mind knows that all Jews are one and that we all have one root. When this fact is internalized by the heart, it will then be felt in the heart. That is how we use our mind to affect our heart, which in turn will affect our emotional responses to situations. To summarize: The da’as of the emotions is rooted in the mind, but the emotions themselves must be internalized in the heart in order for the heart to feel it. That is only true for the emotions; the mind works differently. The mind doesn’t affect the emotions directly; it doesn’t develop the emotions. Emotions are built through da’as, which begins in the mind, and must be internalized in the heart. (The mind does affect the physical senses. However, the senses do not pass through the da’as of the heart since they do not depend on heart feeling.)
Applying Da’as To Our Acts Of Giving
Emotions are affected by physical action, but it must be done in a way that affects our da’as, rather than just affect our emotions. Rav Dessler zt”l wrote that giving to others awakens our love for them. For example, when a father has many children, he does not love them all at once as if they were each his only child. However, when he gives to a certain child, he will feel a love toward that child as if it was his only child. He always had this love deep down, but the act of giving awakens that love. But, if a person just gives to others, but he doesn’t do so out of da’as (the awareness that he wants to attain unity with another), then he is only giving because he wants to have a feeling of love. If his intention is only to have a love feeling, then the giving will not awaken love.
This is a very common problem. Although there is a rule that “The heart is pulled after the actions,”39 we can see that there are people who give all the time to others, yet it doesn’t create a feeling of love. Neighbors may give and give to each other for many years, yet they do not feel any love toward each other. Why not? Why don’t the acts of giving affect our heart as they should? Why doesn’t it always work? The answer to this mystery is because we need to know what giving really is. Giving has the power to awaken the da’as that we all have – the power to unify with others. If a person gives to another because he wants to create a sense of unity with him, then there will be love, but if he gives because he wants to feel love – but not necessarily become one with another – such giving doesn’t create any love. The act of giving can awaken our da’as, and our da’as can affect our feelings, but actions without using our da’as cannot have an effect on our feelings. Only by combining the proper thought (the desire to unify with the other) together with the good deeds we do for another can we foster love through our acts of giving. Take a look at the world today. Everyone knows and believes the words of our Rabbis that40 “The heart is pulled after the actions,” yet often we all give and give and we still don’t feel love towards the person. It is because we often lack da’as in our giving, and we are only acting mechanically, and maybe it’s because we have been trained to “give” since we were young. We can perform countless acts of giving towards others, but it doesn’t affect our heart to feel love towards the person whom we are giving to, and it is because we are not giving with the underlying wish of becoming more unified. It is impossible to see any progress from acting superficially; it is also impossible to see any progress from just waiting to see if our actions will cause us to feel something. The only way to see any results is by using putting da’as in what we do. Actions alone, or feelings alone, will not get us to love anyone. Only by combining da’as with our actions will there be any resulting feelings towards the person.
Our Outside and Inside Must Work Together In Order To Foster Love
Every person needs to learn how to properly balance action with feeling. Everyone is different when it comes to this. However, there is one fact that can be applied to any situation: the “outside” actions we perform can definitely affect how we feel on the inside and cause us to have an internal change, and the same is true for the opposite – our inside can affect our outside and improve it. We need both the external and internal factors if we are to change how we feel toward others. To illustrate this concept, we have to learn Torah and do the mitzvos. The Torah represents our internal layer, while the mitzvos we do represents our external layer. Our Torah learning affects how we perform the mitzvos, and the way we perform the mitzvos will have an effect on our Torah learning. We need both, and we cannot have one without the other. That is clear. Our inner layer influences our outer layer, and our outer layer also affects our inner layer, because they are interconnected. To apply this to our subject, the study of our feelings – there are two ways to reveal love for others (which is the root of all our emotions): the inner way, which is by internalizing in the heart the knowledge that we are all one; and the outer way, which is by doing actions (like giving) with the intention that is should affect how we feel in our heart towards the other. Only when we do both – acts of giving, together with da’as (when we are giving towards another, because we want to come to reveal a sense of unity with the other) will we come to develop true feelings of love towards the one whom we are giving to. This is the way toward true friendship. To truly love others and be friends with others, our body and soul must ultimately work together; in other words, our mind (the root of the body’s physical actions) and our heart (the root of our da’as) must be present together. A friend is called yedid in Hebrew, which means to “combine”, alluding to how we need to combine both our mind and heart in order to attain closeness with others. Only through realizing that we must become one with others, together with doing things for them, will we be able to truly love others.