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

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sin detracts from our bond with Hashem

Sin detracts from our bond with Hashem

Rabbi Y. Oliver

(This is continuing from the previous post.)

In addition to the specific kind of wicked deed that each of the negative emotions entices one to commit, all negative emotions seek to make the Jew susceptible to sin in general, for, as our sages say “A person does not sins unless possessed by a spirit of foolishness.”[1] This “spirit of foolishness” comprises the negative emotions within the Bestial Soul, which are “foolish”—they seek to entice the person to sin by concealing from him the truth of the nature of sin.

The “spirit of foolishness” uses falsehood to entice the person to sin in many ways. One of its prime ruses is the claim: “Sin will not impinge upon your bond with Hashem.”[2]

Every Jew harbors an innate love and yearning for Hashem (the ahavah mesuteres[3]) that makes it intolerable for him to allow his bond with Hashem to be weakened, never mind severed, G–d forbid. In the words of the Alter Rebbe, “A Jew doesn’t want to, and cannot, become separated from G–dliness.”[4] And since “Your sins separate between you and Hashem, your G–d,”[5] by nature, a Jew cannot bring himself to commit a sin and thereby sever his connection with Hashem.

Yet this only means that the Jew cannot bring himself to knowingly sever his connection with Hashem. However, his evil inclination, called “the sly one,”[6] can delude him into imagining that sin will not detract from his bond with Hashem, and it is this outlook that makes him capable of sin.

This person has entered a state of spiritual delusion, and this enables him to fall into a vicious cycle of sin without concern for the spiritual repercussions. After all, he is a Jew regardless, he tells himself, and so he can still perform Mitzvos. Despite what happened, he will still come to shul the next morning, don his Tallis and Tefillin, and davven. His relationship with Hashem will not be affected.[7]

On a more severe level, and often as a tragic result of not having received a proper Jewish education, this spiritual denial may also be accompanied by various foolish heretical rationalizations. He doesn’t keep kosher, he claims, because “Kosher was only necessary in the past for health reasons, but now that we have advanced in our medical knowledge, it is no longer necessary,” G–d forbid, and the like. The main thing, he declares, is “to be a Jew in your heart,” or simply a “good person”—according to whatever that means by the currently popular definition of secular society, of course. And yet at the same time, he identifies as Jewish, often proudly; he affiliates himself with certain “Jewish” causes and groups; and he adheres to certain Mitzvos and age-old Jewish customs.

In any case, it is indeed true that “Even one who has sinned remains a Jew,”[8] and since Jewishness means possessing a Jewish Neshamah, even a sinner has a Neshamah. However, it is only the Neshamah’s essence (also known as the soul-level of Yechidah) that remains completely unaffected by sin;[9] its lower levels, however, are severely damaged by sin[10], may G–d save us. (Concerning the levels of the Neshamah, see here).

In fact, at the time that one commits a sin—even a relatively minor rabbinic prohibition—these lower levels of the Neshamah become completely severed from G–dliness, and even more distant from Hashem than the forces of Kelipah, may G–d save us.[11] And even afterwards they remain stained and wounded, and the process of cleansing and healing them thoroughly through Teshuvah (repentance) may be long and arduous.

Since one connects to Hashem on the conscious level through the revealed parts of the Neshamah, the damage done to these parts of the Neshamah is indeed very detrimental to one’s relationship with Hashem, and keeping this in mind is one method of overcoming the temptation to sin.

May we all recognize, each one of us on his or her own level, that any deviation at all from the will of Hashem will detrimentally affect our relationship with Him, and may this recognition give us the inspiration to commit ourselves to obeying His will without compromise.

Based on Toras Menachem 5718, Vol. 22, pp. 88-89.

[1] Sotah 3a.
[2] Tanya ch. 14. Cf. ibid. chs. 24, 25.
[3] Ibid. chs. 18, 19.
[4] Hayom Yom 25 Tammuz. Cf. ibid. 21 Sivan.
[5] Yeshaya 59:2.
[6] Cf. Hayom Yom 23 Sivan.
[7] Sefer HaMa’amarim Toras Shmuel 5640, Vol. 2, p. 369.
[8] Sanhedrin 44a.
[9] Cf. Hayom Yom 11 Shevat: “He may be missing in on area or another, but the Modeh Ani [i.e., the essence of the Neshamah] of a Jew [always] remains whole.”
[10] Cf. Sefer HaMa’amarim Melukat, Vol. 1, p. 151 ff.
[11] Tanya ch. 24.

This post was dedicated in honor of my dear father, tzu langer yoren, Reb Kasriel ben Yehudis Oliver, as a merit for success in his personal life.

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