Whatever each person’s personal version of it is, we have a despairing place. It is dark and filled with possibilities that lead to pain and hurt.
Why would Hashem, a loving Creator, build such an option within us and call it not only good, but very good?
Hashem also builds into our soul three powers – faith, pleasure, and will, real free will.
Hashem gives us the Torah that explains we are a soul blown into an earthly vessel called a body, and that together the body and soul perform Hashem’s mitzvahs. Without a body, we cannot do a mitzvah and we would not have real free will. Without a soul, we have no life-force or awareness of Hashem.
We have awareness of Hashem, a life-force, real free will, and the opportunity to do mitzvahs and emulate Hashem’s attributes of mercy.
The body is needed to perform the mitzvahs and to be purified and made holy by submitting to the soul.
The soul is needed to provide the life force and constant connection to Hashem from which we may draw light into the body and into the world.
Now comes a challenge. Someone does something that we find objectionable and we see the person has stumbled.
However, very often, our emotions become defensive, judgmental, and before we know it, our fire is rising within us and our hand or mouth is moving to strike. This is neurologically natural.
We understand it. What we don’t truly understand is that we have been given an amazing stage upon which we may act in a way that emulates Hashem and positively impacts all of the root elements of the world, earth, wind, fire and water.
Are we going to follow the pain in the natural way, looking to have our wounds soothed with words or actions by another? Take it back! Tell me you didn’t mean it! OR, are we going to see that Hashem has given us the opportunity to run after our natural urges into a wall of darkness so that we can use real free will to grab the potential concealed by the darkness and, with emunah and bitachon, turn to Hashem and redeem all of what is concealed in the matter to its true revealed compassionate expression within our urges and impulses? Do we realize we may then ask Hashem to take the revealed compassion and to help us all choose our yetzer tov over yetzer hara, healing the one soul that we all are, of the eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
We are living in times when it seems that everything is falling. It seems that urges and impulses alone are enough for people to clamor for their immediate gratification, the existence of urges and impulses thereby comprising all the reason, logic or ethics that otherwise might make sense to consider before implementation. Is compassion the gratification of the urges and impulses? Or is compassion something else?
If we think back to elul, we called out the thirteen attributes of mercy every day. Merciful, kind, patient, overlooking faults and more are among the attributes described. Tomer Devorah teaches us that it is incumbent upon us not to forget to emulate Hashem lest these compassionate characteristics remain hidden in the world.
How, then, can we come to express compassion when our urges or impulses compel us to a feeling to throttle someone?
By comprehending that the feelings to throttle are stemming from urges and impulses that are within or below the natural reasoning mind, and by remembering that when such a look and feel is taking place it is an opportunity to use our inner powers of faith and will for the sake of achieving the greatest inner simcha possible – oneness with the Source of our life force and the compassion of the world -, a new outlook on our life takes form.
The new outlook is that we are here to combine the hidden potential compassion hiding in our experience of whatever pain we feel when we hit a wall and darkness descends into our being, WITH our love for Hashem and awe in how He is One and only does good. Body and soul.
Body and soul are not independent of each other and neither are body and soul independent of Hashem. Rather, our free will, love and awe bridge the body and soul with Hashem. The awareness of Hashem that we experience as simcha when we exercise real free will and generate love and awe IS our true self.
Our free will, love and awe become a vessel through which spiritual material can filtered from a state of hidden compassion to a state of revealed compassion. Where does this take place? It takes place in our hearts and minds. How do we know when it has taken place? We experience simcha., the simcha of oneness with Hashem’s compassion, the true simcha we are created to experience, the awareness of flowing with Hashem’s blessings?
How do we do it? We choose. We choose to use real free will to go beyond the natural reason and understanding of our painful emotions, beyond the justifications, beyond the blaming, beyond the shaming, beyond the judgments, beyond the impulse to be victorious, and say “upgrade to revealed compassion and awareness of Hashem” to the urges and impulses that otherwise seek to make a stand for what we subjectively believe is meritorious for being defended.
Will we fail to use real free will to think and evaluate, and thereby unconsciously fall for the body-generated payoff of “being right” or “being powerful” and unwittingly donate our life force to the Soton, who gives us the best thinking of life in the kelipas, rationalizing it as the “way it is” until Moshiach comes and “what people do” to build fertile and stable community structures?
Or, will we turn it around to see that it is up to us to expand our executive functioning skills to the real task at hand – being happy in Hashem’s service? Through prayerful pleading out loud, describing what the natural self that has just hit a dark wall is feeling, we tell Hashem that we have a full intention to grab from the very darkness paining our inner world that potential compassion. We tell Hashem that know that He is One and that we understand this hidden potential compassion is THE ingredient we need to HEAL the urges and impulses from the negativity confusing us and generating pain.
Our hearts and speech in awareness of Hashem and His Design create a holiness – a transcendance – a bond with Hashem through which spiritual material may be filtered of its falseness and returned to its pristine original state of revealed compassion. This is felt as a lightness within our inner world, a sense of relief from that situation.
We go beyond reason and understanding through will to ask to feel and reveal Hashem’s compassion and we heal our urges and impulses of the shadows that block us from the simcha of feeling One with Hashem’s love and mercy.
Living within the kelipas does not add anything to our awareness of Hashem, nor does being victorious or powerful at moving through time and space using the intellect that Hashem has given to us gain us olam haba or make us more G-d-like/holy. Why be satisfied with the praises and honor given by others? Why accept these strong body drives as the source of what is generating a pleasant life? Do we not see it is fraught with falsehood? Why do we believe this “is it” and not approach the truth, the task of pursuing connection, the task of bringing light to the body to make it holy?
Drawing light into our inner being and expanding our urges and impulses into vessels that submit to revealing Hashem fulfills the purpose for which Hashem has given us vitality and a life time. It grows our awareness of Hashem. It builds a deeper connection with Hashem, deep into our hearts. Our soul is the life force that keeps the body going, and that life force is from Hashem. We are not here on our own, body and soul, remember?
It is up to us.