Have you ever taken a medical scan for a baseline? What is the normal?
Our emotions flow through us from our reactions and our perceptions and our wiring as physical beings attached to nature as well as spiritual emanations from Hashem. Torah teaches us that all there is in the world is Hashem Who is doing everything, Who is thinking up each of us as well as every atom. He is good and only good. Chesed is the baseline of the world Yet we have the difficulties set before us that do not naturally feel like pure chesed even though we trust that they are for our ultimate good.
Emunah is a power in our soul that must be developed. It grows from our effortful prayer. Our brain structure, run by chemicals, reveals the nature of what we experience and why. However we have a mind that is from a soul that is NOT run by chemicals and with our mind, we can grow through emunah to have the stamina to withstand the impulses, urges and lusts of our natural existence and bring them forward into the world as Torah learning, prayer, mitzvahs and chesed..
In Rabbi Yaakov Zalman Labinsky’s 39 Melachos of Shabbos Chabura this week, he explains taanug, pleasure, and how it differs from self-gratification, and shows us how Shabbos itself teaches us that the true pleasure in life comes from the will and emunah we effortfully apply to bring them forward into the world as Torah learning, prayer, mitzvahs and chesed. Here are the notes.
How can we comprehend the flow of chesed and the counterforces in the spiritual realms when we are limited and mortal?
There are seven shepherds corresponding to the forces of the soul that emanates from Hashem. Understanding these forces and the shepherds can help us do battle with the counterforce Hashem designs for us to absorb back to Him, counterforce that latches onto the pure forces as they flow into this world. The soul of Knesset Yisrael is designed by Hashem to draw back to Him the force in the counterforce so that His Chesed is unified and may flow into the world.
When we are cleaning for Passover, we are searching out chometz. For Passover we only eat matzah. And then we work on our inner characteristics for 49 days to unify and purify our mind and heart in avodas Hashem.
Rabbi Genuth in Faith and Confidence (http://patreon.com/mgenuth) explains that when we are very young, if we are not related to in a healthy way, what solidifies in us is a negative being. Our natural environment is set early in life, however, with Torah understanding of this backdrop to our lives, the impact of that environment can change by our recognizing that it is our life force and no other power that has become the strength there and that we have real free will and the power of prayer to ask Hashem for mercy, that our life force – the Shechina in exile – flow into mitzvahs and chesed.
Yes, our hearts ache with each round of inner shame or blame we anticipate or react with. Yes, we project this everywhere because it is part of our natural first reactions. But no, it is not impenetrable or fixed forever. Prayer and beseeching for mercy honor Hashem by recognizing that He is One and that we know He is giving us opportunity to unify with Him and with entire world through this challenge.
Here is a clip from Rabbi Biderman regarding Leah’s prayers to not marry Esav, a contract set between Lavan and Rivka when Rivka bore Esav and Yaakov and Lavan fathered Leah and Rachel.
And here is a shiur from Rabbi Nir Menussi on Parsha Vayeitzei audio only to help us trust that, indeed, our natural environment that feels powerful and like us can instead be absorbed back into Hashem’s flow of chesed. We can grow through emunah and Torah learning to understand how the opposing force has latched onto chesed and “hijacked” our identity for the goals of nature and for natural survival instincts and self-conscious gratifications. We have real free will and the power of prayer and the Torah to help us journey back, as did Yaakov. When Yaakov journeys back, and he overcomes his inner counterforce, the angel of Esav, he becomes Yisroel. This is our collective purpose and mission.
Hashem sends us seven shepherds to help us understand our emotions. Our emotions can become a channel, a bridge, across which the life force from the counterforce Hashem allows to latch onto His Chesed can be re-absorbed into pure chesed and revealed into the world.
Chesed is the spiritual baseline. It flows from Hashem without stopping. He creates four worlds and in each world He is more and more concealed. What this means is that the flow of the sefira are vulnerable to having the force within them diverted from reaching this world as pure chesed. This is Hashem’s design, His gift of real free will.
Ahava, represented by Avraham, love for Hashem that he reveals to the world as Hashem’s chesed.
Gevurah, represented by Yitzchok we are told is something that chesed must acquire in order for it to have boundaries. Unbounded Ahavas Hashem meets difficulties and Yitzchok, through awe of Hashem, brings a way for the flow of chesed from Hashem in Avraham’s ahavas Hashem to focus, in his marriage, with his sons. T
iferes, represented by Yaakov, brings compassion inwardly through bringing the force within his struggles with Esav into awe and love for Hashem.
Netzach, represented by Moshe Rebbeinu shows us endurance to walk with compassion, love and awe to serve Hashem.
Hod, represented by Aharon, is humility, nullification of self in favor of recognizing Hashem.
Yesod, represented by Yosef HaTzaddik, gathers the chesed that is the baseline from all of the above. As the leader of Mitzrayim, Yosef masters all of nature. He turns chometz back into matza by resisting Potifar’s wife and by rectifying his brothers. He brings chesed to its original form before being latched onto by otherness Hashem allows for free will to exist.
And Malchus, represented by Dovid HaMelech, is the doing of mitzvahs, prayer, learning Torah and bringing acts of kindness into the world as a being that is part of the whole, one with Hashem.
May we begin to comprehend that we
simply do not have to believe the clouds of negative emotions that
often sit on our hearts and over our heads. The force animating the
messages is the focus of our emunah and our prayer, with trust that
Hashem, in His Mercy, will draw it forth to Him and restore it through
us into the world through our mitzvahs and prayers and acts of chesed.
Trust in this recognizes the reality of Hashem’s design, that we are, indeed, emanations, a part of Him, designed to do this. We are knesset yisrael, the luminary within the Jewish people, a people that provide a bridge and a channel through which, by Hashem’s design, flows His Infinite Light into the world through Torah, avoda, chesed and mitzvahs.