We are told that the purpose of having real free will is so that we may use it to serve Hashem while alive, in a world where He is concealed, and that so doing will provide a perfected olam haba where we will be free of the bread of shame, of feeling as though we are experiencing the great pleasure of oneness with Hashem without having earned it.
What this tells us is that the experience of shame is an emotion of the soul that outlives our existence in this world.
It is given to us in order that we comprehend, in a holy way, the greatness of Hashem and our own smallness and dependence, both here and for all eternity.
Thus, when that incredibly powerful sense of shame falls into the realm of thinking our survival depends on others – which of course it does when we are born and very young – we can see how a part of our very holy nefesh elokis becomes imprisoned in false beliefs, deceptions, rationalizations and even destructive tendencies, enlivening them for our “survival”.
Have you met people who are very hard on themselves? Do you know people who think that Hashem is going to punish if we do not do what He says and that therefore we had better …. or else? Notwithstanding the real world of din and the system of courts by which Hashem runs the world, there is also His Mercy at play. Why do we not feel that as well, to help us balance that fear, that awe of Hashem’s system of justice?
How can we face our challenges if we believe that admitting our flaws will result in harsh punishment?
Emunah in Hashem includes emunah in the soul – knesset yisrael- that He designs to bring the fallen sparks back to Him. With this understanding, and with awe for Hashem, we are empowered to face the challenges presented by our flaws because there is a higher context for doing so, and that higher contect for doing so is that HE will draw the fallen sparks back to Him through our effort and that our innocence of being a pure nefesh elokis remains within us and can be uncovered and revealed instead of our coping mechanisms. Underneath our faults, flaws, aveiras and rationalizations remains a pure nefesh elokis built by Hashem as part of the one soul, knesset Yisrael, that He designs to bring fallen sparks back to Him. Emunah in Hashem and in knesset Yisrael means we are willing to use our strength, our awe, to turn towards His downpouring of love, capture His Love for us in our hearts and flow what is trapped in our painful corrupted thoughts back to Him by our prayerful request. Hashem, by ourselves we feel this way and it is painful. Yet we have emunah that You Hashem are doing everything and love us and that we want to nullify what seems to be keeping us from feeling that we are One with You and instead traps our focus in self-consciousness. We move forward to do the mitzvahs, the channels You have designed, to bring Your light into the world and ask that all of our heart and all of our soul and all of our might flow through this intention into that mitzvah, and may it be a merit for the soul as it exists in ourselves, our families, and klal yisrael.
Once we begin to see the shift we feel, we can go further and bring this prayerfulness to appetites, desires, cravings for honor, jealousy and more. Believe it or not, our intention to NOT add more of our life force into the darkness and rather our desire to return what is there to Him cleans off our negativity and we gain more and more awareness of Hashem and that He is doing everything, loves us, and is sending us what we need at every moment. We are never cut off. Our soul at this very moment is experiencing closeness to Him at the place in our soul that is above our physical existence and we are able to bring more and more of the simcha of our soul into our lives and live by the Torah, thereby being true to the real self. What does it take? Awe and gevurah, hugging with emunah His Love and real free will to do His Will. Not out of fear of punishment, although we know that is true. But out of fear of being separated from Him by distorted ideas of having some kind of independent existence that places us into the hands of the kelipas.
May we cleave to Hashem with awareness of His Love in a palpable way by showering compassion upoon the life force that is trapped in our pain. May we utilize real free will to intentionally declare that we realize that our true self is here to implement the purpose and reason that He creates this moment, to give us the opportunity to recognize Him and choose our identity as one with Him and with the soul of knesset Yisrael. We may be covered over by a false sense of feeling ourselves as independent from Him, but the truth is there to be restored through real free willed choice. We can safely face our challenges when we have emunah that the pain of the shame itself can be freed from our feeling ourselves and can be uplifted and brought into the world through mitzvahs.
And may we feel the shift that helps us to reveal the purity of our nefesh elokis and knowingly and joyfully live a life of Torah observance such that our lives are a channel for Him and our heart a mishkan.