Because we are alive, and as long as we are alive, we have the natural inclinations that have a stronger presence in our lives than the far stronger inclination of the tzelem elokim. When we are faced with choices, if we even see the brief message of the tzelem elokim attempting to direct our actions we should consider that to be the result of our great effort to learn Torah and to prayers to Hashem to help us be upright.
But because of the constant, persistent natural urges that seem stronger than our will, we may make the mistake of thinking that we are trapped in them; after all, it seems that the natural urges are part of who we are, and that despite their presence, we struggle and we try to do the right thing and therefore we are good people. Thus, the presence of the natural urges that we wish to overcome seem to be part of the landscape of our lives.
Because most people don’t let these natural urges run their lives, this landscaping and how we cope with it leads us to believe that we have to co-exist while we are alive and that there is not much relief, that we just have to continue to step over our natural destructive instincts and carry on. We are patient with ourselves in this regard, yet very often we grow impatient with others who suffer from the same universal composition.
What if we COULD gain relief from some of the natural urges that landscape our lives and subjective realities? Would we be willing to entertain the idea that with a little effort over a few weeks or a year we could move and gain some relief? Do we believe that it is possible to break our nature?
The Vilna Gaon tells us that if not to break our human nature, what purpose is there in being alive? Thus we know that it is possible to break our nature.
Are we willing to exert effort to gain relief? A better question is are we willing to set boundaries for our natural urges so that we can experience the happiness and pleasure Hashem has designed for us to experience while alive. Is the answer “yes” to this question more appealing now when we measure it in terms of pleasure?
What if we could gain relief from some of the natural urges that landscape oour lives and subjective realities? Here we need to choose to see that we are NOT that landscaping, or our past mistakes or our faults. If we identify with the landscaping then our emotional investment in being good and right can confuse us from making a choice that can bring us to real pleasure. The image that we develop to project into the world notwithstanding, our essence and only true identity is tzelem elokim. From this perspective, our effort to examine what is in our natural urges becomes approachable.- what flows through our unrectified hearts, our unrefined character traits, our animalistic instincts and reactions and lusts and more? If we see that it is a strength, something that Hashem has glorified us with through uttering us into existence and thinking of our soul, we can keep that bit of His Glory, the strength, and realize the rest is just a result of being in a fallen world. That strength becomes the truth unmasked about our natural urges that we have free choice to raise upwards with imagination to glue to the truth that we are tzelem elokim here to bring His Light into the world. Doing so recognizes our condition of lowliness, which really is the inner penimius of malchus, of understanding how to create an arousal from below.
Creating an arousal from below of making effort to triumph tzelem elokim over the natural urges becomes a structured exercise when we understand the task – unmask the part of what glorifies us from the emotional labeling of the heart that makes the matter feel so strong, whirling like tornadoes or hurricanes at times. Leave the labeling and mask behind identifying it as the natural impurities on the elements of water/taiva, fire/gaiva, wind/speech and earth/solid vessel. When we willingly wipe off these impurities from the reactions that are natural within us, we are giving ourselves a kapara. The result is that the elements within us, water, fire, wind and earth become purer. Our effort to do this is a demonstration that we truly want our mercy to triumph over the natural. This is the arousal from below and the image that we project as a result of doing this effort will more and more reflect tzelem elokim into the darkness and confusion of whatever circumstances we face.
When we see how we grip our natural urges and resist doing this introspective work, it is easy to understand how we have a world where darkness seems inevitable. When we see that we have real free will and the ability to choose to wipe impurities off of our unrefined characteristics, we come to increase the clarity and pleasure there is in living. And when we come to increase the clarity and pleasure there is in living, we being to realize the value of life, to be able to reflect light into the world and provide a way for Hashem’s glory to be visible in time and space.
What causes us to grip our natural urges is imagination that can be freed to instead grip onto Hashem’s 13 attributes of mercy. We are intelligent beings and can surely see that pleasure and living with the value that Hashem has designed for us, to be His Vessels to reflect Him into the world, is far better than succumbing to the pit of hopelessness that our natural unrectified characteristics unbounded will throw us.
We are choosers but understanding the place of choice is truly what matters. And understanding the place of choice means understanding that our true identity is that of tzelem elokim here to be a vessel to reveal Hashem’s Will as stated in Torah. The alternative is to kick and scream or get depressed or anxious that Hashem is not delivering to us the image that our natural urges would like to project. We can set boundaries and tests to help us realize when our imagination is to put the crown on our head in order to receive kavod for the glorification of having a tzelem elokim, or instead to choose to use imagination to put the crown on Hashem’s head in order to uplift the glorification that He provides and choose to use both our inclinations to reflect Hashem’s kavod into the world for His Sake, for He desires our hearts in order to be revealed in time and space.
It is true that people are glorified because Hashem gives us a tzelem elokim. The question is, will we attribute that glorification to what we say is good or to what Hashem says is good, according to Torah. Therein lies the struggle, the honest look at the impurities upon the water/desire/taiva, the fire/radioactive arrogance/gaiva, the wind/flightiness/ruach/ speech and the earth/malchus/solid vessel/sadness that generate the bitterness involved with the experience of living with unrectified characteristics.
Bitterness is a sign we are far from Hashem. We can release the strength so that it can ascend and be used in His Service restoring happiness that was trapped in a falsehood of our unrectified characteristics projected into an image.
What glorifies us is tzelem elokim, that Hashem gives to us. Reflecting tzelem elokim brings true pleasure each time we choose to do it, making our pleasure something within our reach because it is a product of our choosing to make the effort to unmask it and reflect Hashem into time and space.
Life has value. The ripple effect of making choices has cosmic impact. Hashem wants to have a relationship with us so that His Glory is visible in time and space. When we value our lives and our choices in this way, we reflect commitment to His Will, His Goodness and His Mercy.
May we be wise and make the effort to rise above believing we are trapped in the hopelessness of being alive with natural urges that reflect unrectified characteristics.
May we not fall into the hands of self-pity or into fallen ahavas Hashem that might cause us to enable others to feel justified in trapping their tzelem elokim in hopelessness and destruction/self-destruction.
May our strength that testifies to the glorification Hashem gives us through life itself then be uplifted to be glued to reflecting into the world only His Mercy.
May our triumph of tzelem elokim over the natural urges that we are able to accomplish by setting boundaries for the natural urges based on water, fire, wind and earth be a pleasing arousal from below that will create a consciousness within us for redemption, for clarity, for connection, and for love and awe of Hashem.
And may that arousal from below bring about the Arousal from above.