Summary by Channie Koplowitz Stein
The month of Elul is meant to be a time of introspection leading up to Rosh Hashanah. However, as Rabbi Gamliel Rabinowitz points out in Tiv Hamoadim, most people are very lax in this area, being even less cognizant of our Master than an ox is of its master. The yetzer horo convinces us that we’re so busy with the physical aspects of yom tov preparation that we neglect the spiritual aspects of the yom tov that also require preparation.
While we tend to think that we must focus almost exclusively on our relationship with God at this time of year, it is at least equally important to focus on the “social” mitzvoth that foster our relationship with our fellow man, especially since proper attention to this area will indeed bring us closer to the One God Who has created us all.
Rabbi Mattisyahu Solomon clarifies this point in Matnas Chaim, by quoting the Mabit, in explaining that the luchot, the two Tablets of the Law that Moshe brought down from Sinai, were equal. How is that possible when the first five utterances, those traditionally referring to the mitzvoth between man and God and carved into the first tablet, contain many words while the next five utterances, traditionally the societal mitzvoth, bein adam lachavero etched on the second tablet, are quite terse? Rabbi Solomon explains that to make the two sides equal, Hashem enlarged the letters on the second tablet so the “printed” area of the two tablets would be equal. Hashem was teaching us that both aspects of serving Hashem, the spiritual and the societal, are of equal importance, and one should not sacrifice acts of chessed on the altar of “religious observance.”
The Matnas Chaim makes another relevant point: We tend to think that we keep the mitzvoth bein adam lachavero because they are logical, because society would revert to chaos without them. But our reasoning is faulty. Just as we observe the laws bein adam laMakom, between man and God, simply because they are Hashem’s wish and command, so are we to be motivated to observe the laws bein adam lachavero, for even if their logic eludes us, we must observe them because these too are still God’s will.
In a similar vein, Rabbi Yaakov Hillel points out in Ascending the Path that Many Jews are so punctilious in their observance of laws they deem to be between man and God that they will go so far as to examine an etrog with a magnifying glass for example, while being much less vigilant in their business practices. We must always remember that while Torah study and avodah (religious service) comprise two pillars upon which the world is balanced, the third pillar is gemilut chasadim, acts of loving kindness between man and his fellow man. Unless this third pillar is equally strong, the edifice of the world will topple.
Rosh Hashanah, for which we are preparing in the month of Elul, is the holiday on which we coronate Hashem as King over the world. However, if there are no subjects there is no sovereign. How can we ensure that Hashem’s kingdom, we, the Nation of Israel, remain His emissaries to the world? Rabbi Lugassi notes that an integral verse of the High Holidays liturgy is “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.” Why, asks Rav Lugassi, do we need to “hear”; would it not be enough to say, “Know Israel?” In our context, the logic is irrefutable. While knowledge can be individual, hearing requires an audience, in our case, a nation of listeners. We attest as a nation that we accept Hashem as our God and our King. To do this, we must minimize the “I” for the benefit of the whole. The spirituality of the individual is inextricably intertwined with the spirituality of the
Further, in Moda Labinah, we can rely on the verse from Deuteronomy to help us understand this concept: “He became King over Jeshurun when the numbers of the nation gathered – the tribes of Israel in unity.” In other words, it is the unity of Bnei Yisroel that guarantees the sovereignty of Hakodosh Boruch Hu. How can we achieve that unity and prevent divisiveness? By practicing “veohavta lerayacha komocha – loving your fellow Jew as yourself.”
That level can only be achieved through unity and caring for each other. Rav Shmuel Tal explains in Tal Chaim that we achieve this by joining with the collective in prayer, not just to pray for ourselves, but also to pray for the collective and for individuals within our collective nation. We contribute to the collective and offer our services, and do acts of chessed for individuals within the community, and thus become part of something greater than ourselves from which we and the community all benefit. The collective prayer and actions then fuel the energy that powers our personal prayers and needs.
Hashem wants our prayers, for our voice is pleasing to Him. Rabbi Tzvi Mayer Silberberg offers an additional, beautiful interpretation to this verse from the Hebrew, “Ki kolech orev umarech noveh.”When is your voice pleasing? When it contains within it orevut, caring, responsibility, an intermingling of my personal needs with the needs of others. My introspection during this month needs to include how I can create unity within my nation, how I can repair relationships, and how I can contribute to the wellbeing of the community
To emphasize this point, Moda Labinah cites a lesser know acronym for the month of Ilu”l – Ish Lerayehu Umatanot Loevyonim. This key mitzvah of Purim, that one Jew should love his fellow Jew and give gifts to the needy, these acts of chessed, was what Mordechai foresaw would unify the Jews and create the world of (Alu’l) Ani Ledodi Vedodi Li, I am for my Beloved God, and He is to me, the best known acronym for this month’s name. (I have changed the English spelling of Elul to conform to the vowels of the silent first Hebrew letter.)
Being sensitive to others, to their emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs perhaps even more than to their financial needs is key to this mindset. We must love and interact with our fellows as we would love and observe ourselves, with a kind eye, writes Rabbi Castle in Live among Friends. He presents us with a wonderful analogy. When we look in the mirror and notice a smudge, scrubbing the mirror will not remove the dirt on our face. Similarly, when we observe a fault in another, we must remove any negative feelings from our hearts, because generally it is this “dirt” within our own hearts that is sullying our impression of our fellow Jew. When I correct my vision, I will see the beauty and value of another.
This vigilance must extend to being sensitive to the inner world of others so as not to cause anyone undue pain. Rabbi Moshe A. Stern cites several instances from Tana”ch when the pain one inflicted caused undue ramifications generations later, even when the pain was inflicted totally unintentionally and even in the performance of the mitzvah of honoring one’s parent. The first instance he cites is Yaakov causing Esau to “cry a loud and bitter cry” when Yaakov instead of Esau received Yitzchak’s blessing, according to his mother’s instructions. This phraseology is repeated when Mordechai, Yaakov’s descendant, cries a “loud and bitter cry” at the edict against the Jews that Haman, Esau’s descendant, had promulgated.
A second example Rabbi Stern cites is about Menashe, son of Joseph. He followed his father’s instructions and placed the royal goblet in Binyamin’s sack, paving the way for Joseph to accuse Benjamin of thievery and causing the brothers who were responsible for his safety to rend their garments in grief. Even though Menashe was obeying his father, when Bnei Yisroel were about to enter Eretz Yisroel, his tribe would be rent in two with one half staying on either side of the Jordan though they had not requested any land on that side.
How many times are we oblivious to the challenges of others, gloating over the accomplishments of our children while some in our company remain childless, or revel in a job promotion when our friend may be jobless? If we are to remain united and whole, we must anticipate the pain of others and train ourselves to refrain from any speech or action that may cause pain.
On the other hand, to maintain a peaceful and loving relationship with others, one must be willing to light up one’s face with a smile upon meeting others. After all, writes Rabbi Lugassi in Knesset Yisroel, it was Shammai, the seemingly stern sage, who insisted that greeting everyone with a happy countenance is an explicit law in the Torah. In this respect, every human being is in need. We all have the need to be validated with a smile, a verbal embrace, whether it’s a child, a parent, a colleague or a friend, or even a passerby on the street. Resolve to smile at others for a specific period of time each day and notice how the surrounding energy improves.
Resolutions for self improvement in the coming year cannot be merely cosmetic, but must deal with the foundation of our being, with our emunah, our faith. Rabbi Rabinowitz explains the connection between emunah and our relationship to others. If we have complete faith in Hakodosh Boruch Hu, we do not get angry at someone for not living up to our expectations, for we realize that Hashem is in control. Further, we must understand, points out the Matnas Chaim, that the world of “between man and his fellow man” is not a book of rote etiquette, but rather a guide to how Hashem wants me to interact with other human beings, and Hashem generally does not want me to get angry at others.
However, with Elul upon us, we do want to strive to improve our service to God. Along these lines, Rabbi Wagschall offers some suggestions in Shaarei Elul. First he explains that there are two categories of sins, infrequent ones, like eating something without rabbinic supervision, and others that are so frequent we tend to forget that they’re even sins, like speaking loshon horo or davening without proper intent, arrogance and jealousy. Those in the first category are more easily fixed than the sins in the second. However, success must be counted in small steps. Pick one category and devote your energy to a small section of time within that category, creating a minimum and maximum of effort. For example, if you choose to work on your speech, you may resolve not to speak loshon horo for a particular time of each day, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. Your resolution will have the maximum of one hour while your minimum may be twenty minutes. Similarly, you may resolve to daven with the proper intent for one blessing in the Shemoneh Esrei, the silent devotion. Your maximum may be one entire blessing while your minimum may be just the first and last lines of the blessing.
Year after year we take on resolutions, often the same ones, without success. We fail because we do not include Hashem in our resolution. The purpose of these resolutions must be to bring us closer to our Creator, to build the relationship between myself and my Beloved. To do this, we must make ourselves aware of Hashem’s constant presence in our lives. This awareness teaches us the worth of every human being who is also a child of God and worthy of our smile, our respect, our prayers on his behalf, and our help. For only as a united people can we create the atmosphere where all of Israel can hear, and indeed all the world will know that the Lord our God the Lord is One.
Mrs. Smiles is teaching in Ramat Bet Shemesh, Ranaana, Bnei Brak , for ou Israel center in Jerusalem , also in Har Nof , and for Rav Judah and Modin this elul-tishrei season. Email email@example.com for details.
thank you to all who made Shira’s trip to usa possible including the righteous women in cities of
Miami Beach, Atlanta, Kew Garden Hills, Teaneck, Holliswood, Lawrence ( Amen Group ) , Brooklyn and Far Rockaway.
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The more insights we can get into our mission – what we are here to shine and fix – the more the information below can be helpful in the moment in accomplishing that mission. With understanding, we can make better choices on how to direct our intellect and will that can minimize the length of time we spin in our inevitable natural reactions such as feeling lack, fearing abandonment, fearing annihilation, anger, anxiety, hatred and more. Hashem desires to have a relationship with a being capable of reflecting His 13 attributes of mercy yet having real free choice to do so. He sets our free will point and gives us the power of creative speech along with the built in soul powers of will and emunah to reorganize with.
It is important to understand how through the mitzvah of knowing there is no other power we are empowered to bring our competing wills from confusion of the way the world looks to Hashem is One. Doing so is spiritually productive, yet the work is circular, meaning it will have to be repeated even with all the understanding and experience we have, because it is actual functionality for a tzelem elokim in a body, a constant avoda.
What happens when we are young forms impressions in our minds that last a lifetime. A young child experiences perceptions and the intellect of the child grasps those perceptions and serves as a garment over that perception through which the incident becomes an association and the immature inferior child-like understandings absorbed in the mind. A child’s intellect is developing from the animating natural animal soul. Thus what gets stored in our mind solidifies part of our tzelem elokim with basic elements that come from the coverings over the tzelem elokim, our bodies, which naturally have taiva and gaiva, desire and a sense of autonomous independent existence. These thoughts and impressions from childhood become the rough landscaping that we face as adults, our anxieties, our fears, what triggers our negative reactions and more.
It is helpful to understand that even though as adults our intellect may have matured to new understandings, and even though we may not be in touch with the anxieties as having formed from particular occurrences earlier in life, the rough landscaping of our lives can be looked at as these associations stored in the mind that can serve as the fossil fuel through which we can effect healing for ourselves and spiritual nourishment for the universe!
When we experience rough landscaping, and we take the time in verbal introspection to get more knowledge about what the association is, we may not be ale to extricate the association but we can change our relationship with it to one where it becomes a source of good that can even yield the pleasure of having triumphed tzelem elokim over its natural pulls.
Imagine a clump of dirt, and by way of metaphor let’s think of this clump of dirt as the collected events associated with the way our intellect enclothed our perceptions and stored them in the mind.
A clump of dried dirt looks hard but if we pour water over it, what happens? It loosens up! Chesed/Torah/ water are metaphorically related. With love for Hashem in our heart, we ask Hashem to please help us restore to our desires the understanding that He alone is the Source of all vitality and that we wish to remove any desires that are holding these associations together in a clump because of having been enclothed by the intellect of a child’s mind, a childlike intellect that only draws from the animalistic reactions to perceptions. As the associations begin to dissolve into the water of remembering Hashem is the source of all vitality, we may also experience the childlike reactions of lack for that desire, anger, fear, rebellion, desire for value. Fire/gevurah/arrogance/anger/fear are metaphorically related. When we identify that we have passion associated with childlike impressions based on desires from animalistic reactions, we gain the ability to do something that only those with a tzelem elokim can do, which is to triumph a choice to pray passionately to Hashem to do the work of the mitzvah that there is no other power, burning off the natural immature nature that is like brown mud over the Shechina in galus with the tzelem elokim trapped in our subconscious through our childhood and developmental experiences. We want that light to be able to flow together with Hashem’s revealed light, Hashem is One. We can make a choice to actively redirect our imagination based on the certainty that the only glory in the world is Hashem. We have no real glory. The real sense of autonomous separate existence is, from Hashem’s perspective, a huge paper tiger even though it feels like our life, our me. Hashem Who wants a relationship with us gives us real free willed choice to have awe in Him. We have a choice.
We can choose to direct our intellect to attach imagination to tzelem elokim and free the passionate light animating the animalistic soul trapped in the associations. The colors of the rainbow when joined shine as white light. The colors of paint when mixed together form brown the color of mud, of the earth. So too the light of our tzelem elokim that the intellect enclothed with the natural taintings of taivas and gaivas of childlike thinking is like mud in our brain that causes rough landscaping. We may not realize which of our early associations are generating our anxieties or even if we are, we may not realize that we are empowered in a real way to heal. Yet we can release what animates those early associations, the light within, and that brings white light instead of mud.
When we feel the radioactive passion in the form of anger, fear, judgment, hatred and that category of negative charged emotion, our intellect can instead choose to do something very special. We can use the intellect to bring our imagination to cling to reflecting Hashem’s 13 attributes of mercy. The process of exerting white fire will combined with the power of emunah built into the soul with the goal of emulating Hashem is like taking our tzelem elokim through a washing, releasing the natural elements of childlike understandings that are clinging to the tzelem elokim and then with passionate personal prayer asking for those same elements to become a beautiful glaze to help us strengthen our effort to shine Hashem’s light into the world.
Experiments regarding the burning of dirt:
!. metals can be melted out of special dirts called ores. Some ores need to be treated with chemicals to get the desired elements out. Some need to be heated and then the gasses released are condensed
2. it is possible to melt dirt (more correctly, the inorganic fraction of dirt, which might only be 70%). You will be left with a silica rich glass; which is what happened to the ground around underground atomic test sites.
3. There is also a process known as ‘in situ vitrification’; in which carbon electrodes and a strong electric current are used to melt and solidify the earth
4. if you heat wood; it will burn and produce carbon dioxide, with a small proportion of ash. However, if you heat wood in the absence of air, it will decompose, forming volatile organic materials (methane, tar and other organic materials); leaving behind the carbon. This is how charcoal is produced. Theoretically, the carbon could be heated, but it won’t melt. Instead, it will pass direct to the gasseous state at about 4 000 deg c.
When we see passionately felt harshness, we question ourselves, attempting to see if there is a truth greater than the truth of which we are aware. Since there is always a truth greater than the truth of which we are aware, there is very little relief from self-doubt and intimidation that we experience. Inside of us is something that loves truth and connection and it wants to make that connection.
The beauty of teshuva is that if we have opened our eyes to a truth greater than a previous understanding so that now we see that we made bad choices, sinned, and did things that caused damage, all of what we did can be wiped off. This escalator up, this ability to return to serving Hashem, is built into the world at the time of creation because Hashem understood that we would need to have such a way of knowing that we can lovingly return to Him and be totally cleaned off.
We often judge ourselves. Even with words of Torah, which are all truth, we see our defects and are afraid to face them, afraid to say we made bad choices, because we are uncertain if we can really stop and we certainly can’t change what we did in the past if it had real world time and space consequences. So we feel sometimes like excusing ourselves from that part of truth so that we can feel that we are good and that we are in control, not some “rule” whose measure will reflect our imperfections and a harsh image back to us. Perhaps we feel mocked, ashamed, and this pains the soul very much.
Our effort to release the Shechina from the trap of this galus in our nature is an act of charity that gives Hashem back Nishmas Am Yisrael. When we loosen the grip that our image of ourselves holds shut tightly around what we want and instead see our ego perspective for what it is, an “address” in hearts that are in time and space that Hashem is hoping to live within, we move toward choosing Torah and the happiness of being Nishmas Am Yisrael over the natural urges. Each time we bring Hashem into our hearts thinking of His Happiness that we are fulfilling Torah and His Will, we literally are choosing our identity, for our intellect grasps the Torah ideas and His Middos and these then are drawn through our thoughts into our hearts to nourish us. We literally become a being that reflects His Image more and more into this world and we heal the places in our hearts that we chose His Will over the natural.
Everyone wants happiness, comfort, love, and respect. Hashem knows that. He is the Source for giving it. He desires to reside in our hearts. Normal is to react because of where we believe our happiness lies. Instead we can see how to give happiness to Hashem by emulating Him or bringing Torah into the world. Deep down what holds us back? Do we believe that if we give happiness to Hashem that what is good for us will come to us? Very often what we hear instead is harshness, condemnations, vindictiveness, typical of normal human emotions that clutches shut our ego image keeping our tzelem elokim and the Shechina in galus with it (placed there as the hidden part of our tzelem elokim covered by the utterances through which Hashem creates nature). Let us instead treat Hashem with kindness. That is how we use the escalator? However we judge ourselves, however “hopelessly” we have messed up, the teshuva is real. With our personal prayers and the four steps of teshuva, we sincerely cry out and ask Hashem to please turn our aveiras into mitzvahs because of our regret and our plan for the future. Once we do that teshuva, we need not have any harsh voice towards ourselves ever again! It is not too hard to fulfill the Torah because there is teshuva! Literally, just by praying and doing teshuva, whatever wrongs we did get cleaned off. So what is too strict, too hard, too unforgiving, too limiting about that? Only the grip of the ego and the yetzer hara that wants to interfere and compete for our choice. Surely it is more tangible, familiar but we have to do our job as Nishmas Am Yisrael in a stronger and more determined way. and we have free willed choice to do it.
May we see that the prayers and the words Hashem Echad are not too hard, that the four steps of teshuva are a gift, and that our hearts can reflect more and more of Hashem’s 13 attributes of mercy into the world.
When we take a look at our negative reactions, we can find out a great deal about what is going on deeper in our subconscious if we ask ourselves certain questions, with the aim of comprehending our reactions as coming from either taiva or gaiva, desire or arrogance. IT IS UP TO US TO PULL OURSELVES OUT OF THE KELIPAS, OUT OF THE GRIP OF TAIVA AND GAIVA, WE DO SO BY GLUING OURSELVES TO TORAH, PERSONAL HEARTFELT PRAYER AND AVODA, AND EMULATING HASHEM’S ATTRIBUTES OF MERCY. TORAH TEFILLA AND CHESED.
What happened – describe it like a news report?
How did you emotionally respond, what did you do in response? What is the image that you had of yourself and how did what happened differ from that image? Where was what happened lacking in upholding the image or expectation you had? Write it in terms of desires such as for love, attention, kindness, understanding or terms of independent existence such as for value, honor, security, recognition. Doing so will show if the root is a fear of abandonment or a fear of annihilation for not having the desired image maintained
When you look back upon it, of the ways you responded, which have brought you closer to reflecting 13 attributes of mercy over the natural responses and how? And which ones brought you farther from triumphing the 13 attributes of mercy over the natural responses?
What were you thinking and feeling when you reacted in a way or in part of a way that brought you closer to Hashem’s 13 attributes? Farther? Be specific. As much as you can remember about what you were thinking and feeling is helpful here.
Try to discern of the thinking and feeling that brought you closer or farther, which played a role, taiva/desire/chesed or gaiva/arrogance/anger/fear/fire? For example, what did you hope those thoughts and feelings would do for you that would bring happiness?
Remembering that happiness comes from learning torah, praying with passion to Hashem in personal hisbodidus, and emulating His 13 attributes of mercy, and that the Source of all vitality is Hashem, and that all passion/fire is for the heart to cling to torah ,prayer and kindness, find the place of imagination within that went to trying to find happiness in the worldly matter and with white fire will say Hashem Echad and ask Hashem to please help you glue that imagination now to Torah avoda or chesed, say it out loud, asking Hashem to please help you release the tzelem elokim trapped looking for happiness in this taiva or gaiva and instead connect it to Torah, avoda, or kindness.
Now write down your insights, for what needs to be repaired, tikun.
Hashem has a midda of din, of strict justice, but it is designed to help us find our way to reflecting His 13 Attributes of Mercy.
The strictness that we associate with our internal world comes from shaping, from impressions made when we were young and our brains and animating image was forming. Guaranteed there are imperfections in it because people are imperfect.
We have free choice to have awe in how Hashem has designed the world, to give us a choice if we will arouse love in our hearts and activate emunah to powerfully reorganize our inner world with determination to reflect His 13 Attributes of Mercy through our animating soul or not.
He gives us everything we need to heal those places in us that cause us to loop, to feel disempowered, to suffer from negative emotional charges and upsetting reactions that just take us further into the world of blame and shame.
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Rocky road happens triggering a natural negative reaction or survival instinct
Elements of natural existence touch and either captivate or try to captivate parts of the tzelem elokim, engaging it to serve the goals of the ego desires or for survival purposes, causing confusion, swirling emotions and/or bitterness
Know there is Hashem and that the Shechina along with a concealed strengthening ingredient for our tzelem elokim is in galus in that naturally occurring reaction.
Remembering that there is no other power and that we are in a place of limbo designed specifically for us to make a creative effort to serve Hashem. Instead of getting captivated in the natural occurrence, remember that the tzelem elokim has creative powers that through our choices can lead to becoming increased in our ability to reflect Hashem into the world and have more clarity and innate joy. Hashem is One and we are part of that. His is the only glory in the world and He glorifies us with a tzelem elokim to have a relationship with Him.
Activate love of Hashem and a desire to create a nourishment for the relationship, and have awe for Hashem, in how He creates the world with people with real free will to whom He gives the ability to choose freely to have this awe of Hashem to burn off natural elements from within the subconscious and unconscious mind in order to be able to become a greater system of reflecting Hashem’s 13 Attributes of Mercy into the world.
With awe of Hashem and with emunah, cry out loud to Hashem that it is bitter to be trapped in this worldly matter, that happiness is learning Torah, praying to Hashem and emulating His Kindness and we ask Hashem to please help us to glue the tzelem elokim being drawn into a false promise of happiness back to learning Torah, praying to Hashem and emulating His Kindness
Part of this hisbodidus is to say what is terrifying or anger producing so that it can be broken down into the actual elements (water/taiva; fire/gaiva; wind/flightiness/speech/ruach; earth/sadness/malchus/sold vessel). For example, let’s say a person is feeling rejected or afraid of being rejected, here would be a way to talk out loud about it “redirecting the passion to avodas Hashem.” In other words, cry out with the intention of reclaiming the tzelem elokim that is being drawn to a desire tempting us with false messages ( false because happiness is learning Torah, praying to Hashem and emulating His Kindness). About where happiness lies. By repeating over and over with the natural feelings in mind, comparing to the actual truth that is learning Torah, praying to Hashem and emulating His Kindness, we begin to calm down:
Rejection, fear of abandonment, fear of anniliation. Repeat over and over until the swirling emotions are once again detached from the circumstances.
Then direct the passion to learning Torah, praying to Hashem and emulating His Kindness
If doubt creeps in about how this is going to help at all, repeat:
Doubt, doubt, fear of abandonment, fear of annihilation, fear of not being in control. Repeat over and over until the understanding that solidifying the image of autonomous separate existence causes us MORE suffering, because it subjects us to continuous doubts about Who is in charge of our survival. Our survival is in Hashem’s hands alone.
Ask Hashem to take the passion from the doubt and apply it to helping us keep a porous understanding of our image so that at all times our tzelem elokim is able to flow freely to Hashem without being blocked by a solidification of an image that is ultimately temporary, designed to give us free choice and the ability to take actions in accordance with halacha, but not really a contest for being able to control our survival ultimately.
With emunah that whatever happens is good because Hashem does only good, reorganize all the passions and re-directed sefira (kindness, strength, compassion, endurance, humility, bonding) to find something in Torah, a relief in praying to Hashem and a specific way to emulate His Kindness in that very moment and say Hashem Echad!
If what triggered the reaction had something to do with another person, realize that the other person may be confused and tell Hashem just as I am suffering in this moment from confusion of mind and calling out to You and I am so gratefull that You are helping me and not judging me or harshly punishing me for being temporarily confused and drawn toward bitterness, please may I emulate You and be patient and tolerant.
Please may I use all of this to drawn warmth, light, bracha and healing into the deep place where this struggle began, please may I bring Your attributes of mercy to the place inside of me that originally stumbled over these natural pitfalls so that I increase in that place tzelem elokim as what is natural, the new natural, so that I may draw Your Attributes of mercy into the animating soul over the natural reactions.
We have a real ability to heal ourselves by bringing subconsciously trapped parts of our tzelem elokim back into connection with conscious choice to learn Torah, pray to Hashem and emulate His Kindness. If we resist, it is because we believe that we are losing rather than gaining something by doing so.
Take a look at that deeply, because it is connected to subsconsious and unconscious natural reactions of resisting that have been with us in a good way helping us become adults.
However, when it comes to avodas Hashem,which is our first priority and hishtadlus before we act in time and space, we have to rely on our knowledge of Torah and our knowledge that all glory is Hashem. Above the way our autonomy appears in the natural world, the truth is that in every moment we are able acquire an increase in our happiness and potency as systems to reflect Him into the world when we make our autonomy porous and ourselves humble servants knowing that all success is up to Hashem.
From here, we can act. The impact upon our animating soul is the goal. As we see the natural impediments lessen from our natural reactions, we begin to understand that the outside external world is a stimulation solely for us to rectify our characteristics and break our nature, then acting to reflect Hashem’s Torah and Middos into the world, experiencing the joy of being the vessel to reflect Him.
Chazal explain to us that for each temple, our sins were the cause of the destruction. Those who came to knock the temples down were only knocking down structures. The truth of the temple being destroyed occurred when our sins removed the Shechina from the Temple and when our sinas chinum broke apart Klal Yisrael.
The outer destructions of the temple look quite mighty. The fierce rulers whose armies decimated and destroyed the temples look quite powerful in our eyes. But the power was not theirs. Hashem sent them and all power is His. No man has any power to do anything. Every one of us, no matter if we are a King, a President, an ordinary citizen of the world, a child, a patient in a hospital, has no power. None whatsoever. Sorry to wake us up to that.
We have effort and opportunity. We have free will and imagination. We have physical gifts, including bodies, brains, intelligence and more. But no matter how you want to assert the appearance of our independent existence, it is ultimately true that we are subjects of the Creator and it is His Power that is granted to our efforts for any success in the world, even the violence and horror that we see today.
The created world is made of four substances, solid, liquid, gas and radioactive materials. The difference between these materials is the speed at which the electrons move and in the case of radioactive, how unstable the atoms are due to certain attributes of the electrons. This basic concept should demonstrate to us that despite all the amazing creative and life sustaining systems Hashem has created, His involvement with every atom of the universe may be concealed but that should not prevent us from comprehending His Total Control.
Every second, Hashem re-creates absolutely every atom in the universe. This second looks like a continuation from the previous second. But that is not accurate. This second is a totally new creation. Thus we can see how our prayers can change anything.
And so can our teshuva. When we do the four steps of teshuva, the next second is a new second, one where our aveira and the damage we created is no longer there, although it might take a Yom Kipur to totally remove the damage. Yom Kipur is the time when Hashem takes us all for a nice cleansing dip in the mikvah of forgiveness. During Elul, we can be asking Hashem specifically for what we know we need forgiveness applied to,
The issue of our imagination is one that matters so much. When we saw the destruction of the Temples, the natural thought is that the destroyers knocked down the temples and we should have an emotional reaction towards them for doing so. But Judaism does not tell us this as a tradition. Judaism tells us that until the temple is rebuilt, it is as if our generation destroyed it. Why? Because we have not repaired the real cause, the inner cause, of the destruction of the temple, which is our relationship with Hashem demonstrated through the treatment of each other.
When our imagination is glued to the absolute truth that Hashem’s 13 Attributes of Mercy are the most pleasant and powerful way to live, we begin to make a repair. Having a yearning to glue our imagination to absolute truth has taken a huge beating throughout the galus. We like to stay alive! We don’t like to be killed, annihilated, abandoned, expelled, rejected, knocked out, hated, or spoken poorly of. What could be more natural than that? The imagination of the animal soul is actually built with a desire for the approval of our parents, the ones who give us life and who train us in what is good and how to best take care of ourselves. We are taught to honor our parents who give us life. So if our parents are upset about something and punish us, it is natural that our imagination goes towards conforming to the ideals and rules of the ones we love. As we should as children. The parenting of children is designed to set the behira of the children, and thus imperfect and inexperienced people raise the next generation and there does not seem to be any upgrade from that available. It is purposeful. We are NOT our upbringings, although that is what sets our behira point. Crucial to understand for every person is that we have a tzelem elokim made in Hashem’s image and He creates us with free will to give us the opportunity to reflect Him into the world or not.
When our emotions and imaginations are set with determination for anything other than reflecting His 13 Attributes of Mercy and His Will as expressed in Torah into the world, He makes use of our short-sightedness and may even give us power and success in order to maintain the real choice He gives us. The cost is that our lives are added to the solidification of the false belief that there is some power that comes from somewhere other than Hashem. Imagine if we understood that every penny comes from one King – it may come through a bank, a job, an inheritance – but we would want very much to have a good relationship with the King, would we not?
It is the same with power. All power comes from Hashem, there is no other power. We labor and make effort, and He grants success or not. How smart would it be to begin to attribute power to ourselves or to tactics or to concepts that are derived from latching imagination to something other than Hashem’s 13 Attributes of Mercy? It might work for awhile, but inevitably, it has to fail. This is historically true for all manmade ideologies. The one ideology that survives all of history is putting all our imagination into emulating His 13 Attibutes of Mercy.
We have an inner being. Even if we don’t have any sense of connection with that inner being, as long as we breathe, we have an inner being. And that inner being is eternal. It is here to increase and strengthen itself with Torah, prayer and good deeds which come through our free willed choice to bring something natural from our desires and arrogance into a reflection of Hashem’s 13 Attributes of Mercy, through Torah, tefilla and kindness.
Where have we gotten waylaid, where has our intellect taken us toward what we believed was for a good purpose but ultimately fell short of emulating Hashem’s 13 Attributes of mercy, learning Torah, praying and doing acts of kindness? Who is the real me? Where can I make a creative and sincere choice to bring out in an increased way the part of me that is made in His Image and forego the goals that seem smart and appear on the outside to demonstrate a certain power, commanding respect, affecting our families and more? Instead, how can I reflect His Image more into the world to give Hashem a way to be in time and space? Which do I believe ultimately will bring the best results?
Making porous our ego goals by attaching our imagination to bringing out the tzelem elokim over the natural urges becomes the crucial task. If we are not actively and dynamically gluing our imagination to Hashem’s 13 attributes of mercy, to learning torah, to prayer and acts of kindness, the imagination naturally attaches elsewhere and we bring something far less into the world for which we are accountable and for which we often need forgiveness.
We are inner beings with an external component. Learning the limitations of being physical beings so that we can control, have power, or dominate, even with the most determined will combined with imagination, will only have success if Hashem gives it success. Yet for our own lives, even if Hashem has a reason to permit our efforts success, the question of whether we increased our ability to reflect Him into the world remains. Any imagination that bases esteem on anything else is a false esteem for which we do not earn any reward and often great punishment.
What is the basis for esteem? How much is in our bank account? How beautiful we are? Unfortunately one can see a terrible possibility that there could even be a standard of esteem being based on how many people were killed in genocidal activities. This is a more obvious way of seeing that esteem connected to outward manmade standards is NOT esteem at all.
The whole world is filled with the glory of Hashem. There is no glory other than Hashem. He glorifies us with a tzelem elokim, making us in His Image, so that He can have a relationship with us, one where we can freely choose to emulate His Attributes of Mercy, learn torah and be kind, as He is kind. The choice is ours. If we have taken a wrong turn, as long as we have breath, we can turn back. Remember, every second is a brand new creation. We can begin the process of learning how to emulate Hashem’s 13 Attributes of mercy and set our will and determination with faith towards that direction TODAY. To do so, we need to go deeply into our being and wrench imagination away from anything less and glue it to emulating Hashem’s 13 Attributes of mercy WITH will, determination, faith and prayer. When we submit our being to His Oneness, we reflect Him into the world and this is pleasure and good. When we permit our energy to operate for ideologies that ultimately do not follow His Will as stated in Torah, we may have great intentions but it will not last, even if we have some success or even success over a period of time. Hashem is very patient. He loves us. The place of the world is the mind of Hashem. Let us do everything we can to assure that our imagination and mind is to bring His Will into time and space.