"Moshiach is ready to come now-our part is to increase in acts of goodness and kindness" -The Rebbe

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Making Hashem Our Reality

Making Hashem Our Reality

Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver

I present the essay below in honor of Yud Tes Kislev. This essay is an adaptation of a maamar of the Rebbe delivered on Yud Tes Kislev of 5713.

It is written that when
Moshiach comes, we will realize that during the period of exile “we had been like dreamers.”[1] Likewise, the verse “I am asleep”[2] is interpreted to refer to the sleep of the Jewish people in exile.[3] These sources demonstrate that the exile of the Jewish people is compared to sleep, while redemption is compared to wakefulness.

During sleep, the higher faculties lie dormant, most notably the faculty of sight. However, lower faculties such as hearing remain active. What do the modes of perception of hearing and sight represent?

It is written, “Hearing cannot be compared to seeing.”[4] Hearing about something is a totally different experience from seeing it.

When seeing, one does not suffice with abstract knowledge of the thing; rather, one connects with its reality. In contrast, hearing means relating to the thing in a distant, abstract manner. Although the more the topic is explained, the deeper it can be understood, it will never be real for the person if he hasn’t actually seen it. Even if he has studied the thing for many years, as long as he has not actually seen it, his connection with it is sorely limited.

Since one who hears about something but does not see it connects with it on a purely logical and theoretical level, his bond is subject to challenge and refutation. No matter how much he has studied it, and no matter how compelling the proofs he believes he has for its existence, his conviction is only as strong as those logical proofs. Thus, if he is confronted with strong questions against his way of thinking, his conviction will naturally be weakened. Eventually, these questions may become so compelling to him that he may come to reject his beliefs altogether.

It follows that even when one is fully convinced of the truth of a thing, if he has not personally seen it, his conviction is weak, for he may be confronted at any time with challenges that he may well conclude refute his view altogether.

In contrast, one who actually sees something cannot ever be dissuaded from his belief in it. Logical proofs are only relevant to establishing reality in the absence of experience.
But once one has personally seen something, his conviction is absolute, and cannot even be weakened. No amount of reasoning will sway him for he will respond simply: “I saw it myself!”

Let us explain this more deeply. A thing one sees permeates every fiber of one’s being.
Not one iota of the inner self remains unaffected by what one has witnessed. The reason for this is simple: when one apprehends the core reality of the thing, it touches the core of his being and becomes indelibly ingrained in him. This makes him totally certain of it, and his conviction is therefore unshakeable.

In contrast, one who has merely received a report assimilates information on a primarily intellectual level. Since this information does not permeate him, a significant part of him remains unaffected. This unaffected part thus holds the seeds of doubt, and ultimately even rejection, of his previously-held belief.

This also explains why seeing has a much deeper emotional impact. Even one who has heard something described in minute, unerring detail will be excited to physically see that thing, despite the fact that he apparently learns no new information thereby. But in reality he
has learned something new—he has connected with the thing itself.

Likewise, one cannot feel a genuine yearning for something one has never seen and experienced, because that thing did not permeate him. Only when one sees the thing itself, and his inner core is deeply touched, is he capable of experiencing a profound, intense yearning to see that thing again.

Hearing and seeing are analogies for one’s relationship with Hashem. When one does not “see” G–dliness, his bond with Hashem does not permeate his personality, and his relationship with Hashem is detached, intellectual, and thus very limited.

This is the true meaning of exile—the exile within. A state in which a Jew is exiled and distant from his true inner self—his Neshamah.

The Neshamah lies hidden within the Jew who lives in a state of hearing. It yearns and demands to be allowed to manifest itself in every aspect of the Jew’s life, which is the meaning of inner redemption. This inner redemption consists of not sufficing with recognizing Hashem intellectually, in a way that is abstract and distant; rather, He becomes a real, tangibly-felt presence in one’s life.

Of[5] course, the ultimate level of seeing Hashem will only be attained when Moshiach arrives. However, we prepare for his coming by striving to serve Hashem even during the era of exile in a manner of seeing, to the extent that this is possible.

One attains this through the traditional Chabad Chassidic discipline of hisbonenus, meditating upon a divine concept with tremendous concentration. This is called “gazing at the glory of the King.”[6] One should do so to the point that the divine concept becomes so real for him that it is as if he literally, palpably sees it. 

Although one does not literally see it, he sees with the sight of “the eyes of the mind.” However, spiritual sight is attained to an even greater degree by reflecting upon providential events in one’s personal life that point to Hashem’s ongoing active involvement, for one sees these events with sensory sight.[7]

[1] Tehillim 126:1.
[2] Shir HaShirim 5:2.
[3] Zohar 3:95a.
[4] Mechilta Yisro 19:9.
[5] The rest of the article is based on Sefer HaMa’amarim Melukat, Vol. 1, p. 299 ff.
[6] Zohar 2:247b.
[7] Sefer HaMa’amarim 5703, p. 119.

Adapted from Sefer HaMa’amarim 5711-5713, pp. 326, 327, 328.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment! :)