The simanim teach us that there is a spiritual digestion process that can free our soul
On Rosh Hashana evenings, we have different foods, simanim, that we eat with a special prayer, a yehi ratzon, asking for various opposing forces to be rectified. With this in mind, who is the main “opposing force?”
There is only one, and that is the yetzer hara. However, Hashem, the only Power, is known as Elokim, meaning He is hidden in thousands upon thousands of ways. How does Hashem hide?
His Compassion, which is His Truth, fills every utterance He makes, and those utterances then come into existence as objects. Trees, people, animals viruses, plants, oceans, and more are words, utterances, but their existence is the breath of Hashem, compassion, which fills everything.
The place of the world is Hashem.
There is no other.
The reason this is important to bring out is that every thought, too, is a creation of Hashem. Yet what happens to us when we receive certain thoughts? Anger, insult, sadness, fear, panic and more. How does a thought cause us so much pain, and how do the simanim teach us that there is a spiritual digestion process that can free our soul from our troubling thoughts?
When we think a thought, we are investing our soul in that activity. The more we think the thought, the more another thought comes, due to our imagination, and we think that too. If the originating thought has anything that is not true within it, the imagination is taking us to untrue places, into the darkness of disconnection from Hashem.
We don’t want to look inside for fear of feeling shamed or blamed for our imperfections.
We mistakenly think this “personality” is who we are. We don’t want to look inside for fear of feeling shamed or blamed for our imperfections. And this is the motivation for writing this blog article, to empower us to know that all that is missing is proper understanding of who we are and what our life is for.
How do we redeem our soul if it has been trapped in blocks to feeling Hashem’s loving presence?
So, bravely, for a moment, let’s take a zoomed in look at a presenting painful thought. If it has any hint at all of being negative speech about ourselves, about another, about the world, or about Hashem, then by definition it has an untruth to it because everything Hashem creates is good (including this thought, because on its interior, it contains a spiritual divine energy Hashem invests in the one opposing force, the yetzer hara, which He designs in order to give us real free will and opportunity to use will to pass the test.)
How do we make sure that our holy soul – or more of our holy soul – does not get added into that negative thought, and how do we redeem our soul if it has been trapped in blocks to feeling Hashem’s loving presence?– We want to redeem our soul because we don’t feel Hashem’s compassion when we are coping using the suggestions of the natural survival instincts…these suggestions are there to leech our souls for the survival of the yetzer hara and forces of disconnection and damages. So we further want to know, how do we redeem, along with our trapped soul, the spiritual divine energy (tohu) that is coming to be healed, that we are empowered to redeem? How do we disable that falsehood (telling us to react purportedly for our survival – for love and attachment needs to be met) which is hiding the koach enlivening the thought?
The Nefesh HaChaim teaches us:
“Behold Hashem is the true G-d and that there is nothing else other than Him. Every force in the world (and in all of the worlds) is filled only with His simple unity. When a person totally nullifies in his heart every power and force in the world and does not pay attention to them at all, and when a person subjugates and attaches the purity of his thoughts in the One Master only, then Hashem will nullify all of the forces in the world against him so that they won’t have any power at all…”
A presenting thought contains a force, but that inner force that is animating it into what may feel like anger, fear, insult, pain, panic or more is compassion that is trapped in it. The compassion we feel is our own soul, our life force that attached interpretations whispered from our first life coach, the yetzer hara, when natural development started, when our brains were wet cement. The thought itself – that whisper from the yetzer hara – comes with “a battery” of compassion of its own, and is seeking for us to think it so that we “invest” our holiness in it’s destructive goals.
That thought, which is coming from a force in nature, is a test for our free will and emunah. It is designed to draw us into darkness and death. But its purpose is for us to pass the test.
Who will rule our heart – yetzer hara or yetzer tov
The consequences are important. Which inclination will rule our heart – the thinking that comes from nature (the yetzer hara, the confused thinking that results from having eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) or the thinking that comes from Torah (tree of life).
Having a finely tuned awareness of our natural thought patterns and the feelings associated with them gives us a look and feel for when we are being lured to invest more of our holiness into thinking the thoughts offered by the forces of darkness. What do we do when this arises? It appears to us as a thought, like something to contemplate. But really it is a lure to darkness, something that will then give us another thought to contemplate that will then take us very far into disconnection and darkness.
If we truly want the inclination for good to prevail, how do we nullify the forces as they present themselves in our day to day lives?
There is a spiritual process of digestion…and a way to nullify the force as it presents!
By crying out to Hashem, as a created being knowing it has a Creator, we ask Hashem to please nullify the tempting presenting force that is attracting us because we do not want to go there nor do we wish for our soul to be attracted to thinking that thought.
We recognize and confess and regret that we have something within us that believes something false, that is being attracted to that negative thought. These are our unrectified characteristics, given to us by Hashem, so that we have imperfections from which to play a causative role in creating our eternal identity as tzelem elokim. These are the coping mechanisms that attach to our survival instincts when young because we seek love and attachment. All too often, there are mixed messages and flawed interpretations.
We wish for all of the confusing divinely created spiritual energy to please return to Hashem, to be unified, and healed.
We ask that Hashem give it all back to us so that we may feel its true characteristics, compassion.
We ask Him to restore it to this very place in our hearts with olam haba consciousness of Him, so that we may feel His Love and Mercy and thereby reveal His Love and Mercy in our speech and deeds.
Hashem alone is the One who does this for us. However, it is up to us to will it sincerely and to ask in prayer filled with emunah and clarity that He is One. While we are crying out, it is important that we create in our hearts an atmosphere of love for Hashem and awe in the design, two mitzvahs, that open a channel of giving to Hashem. Love and awe are the wings upon which the koach “flies” back to Hashem, from our heart, returning to its Source.
It may take many times. But the truth is that every small step, every time we try and feel a bit calmer because Hashem helps, we are growing in an inner simcha. Eventually,. With Hashem’s help, we can come to see this as the real task of every moment of life, to observe what Hashem wants us to return to Him in this moment so that He may be revealed. That small drop of calmness we feel is whatever Hashem gives back to us of the spiritual energy, unified, able to reveal its true characteristics of compassion rather than the confused messages and pain.
We start to really see and feel how we are not our fiery, windy, desirous emotions.
We are not even the compassion that is animating the falsehoods. The falsehoods and the compassion are all Hashem’s.
We are given causative free will, the creative power of speech and awareness of what is before us – the world .
With that awareness, we are our effort to will and beseech – through prayer, by virtue of our love for Hashem and our emunah – to feel Hashem’s love and mercy as natural in our hearts instead of our protective flawed defensive coping mechanisms, and draw it into our hearts so that He may be revealed in this world.
We ask Hashem to nullify all forces in the world by observing the thinking we have that arises naturally and by not actually thinking the negative thoughts. We subjugate our urges to think the suggested negative thoughts out of love and awe of Hashem and awareness of our true primary mission. We attach the purity of our soul only to Hashem without stopping.
And Hashem then helps us. Once we feel the soul within us with its compassionate essence from Hashem Himself – the simcha for which we are created – we no longer believe falsely that we are the angry, fearful, insulted, panicky person we once thought we were. We begin to comprehend what it means to be a tzelem elokim with the opportunity of life, in a flawed body and world.
We do not have to live life with our souls being the mortar that holds together a brick wall of blocks intended to protect us from feeling inadequate and getting blamed and shamed. Unintendedly, that natural development simultaneously keeps us from simcha and happiness, from connection to feeling Hashem’s compassionate presence.
Realize we are compassionate souls placed in bodies to do the work of returning the holy sparks of tohu that Hashem buries in the natural world to Him, bringing unity to His Name and to our souls.
May we take upon ourselves a dedication to seeing this spiritual digestion as our primary mission, as a way of making a “yehi ratzon” upon the negativity in our life so that the compassion becomes revealed and the dross falls away. This takes emunah, self-knowledge and effort. There is a Creator Who creates us. He just wants us to will and to ask.
Whatever we are taking on for the year to work on, whatever spiritual goals we have for 5779, may our efforts be merits for redemption b’ahava.
Rabbi Efraim Stauber on spiritual you teshuva