When the soul departs from the world above and descends into a person’s body it immediately senses great distance from the warmth and love of Hashem. However this emptiness drives a person to yearn to reunite; the greater the longing the stronger a person’s determination to rejoin.
The soul constantly yearns; her yearning is felt by us as emptiness. Her consolation comes through our involvement in mitzvot; this is how we nourish the soul and ease her pain. Yet so many mitzvot are material by nature. Then how does the soul benefit?
All creation consists of matter and energy; material and spiritual (which is all energy but that is a subject for discussion another time). The Ba’al Shem Tov HaKadosh teaches that Hashem is found in everything and everything has Hashem in it. Material existence is made up of G-dly sparks (nitzotzot kedusha) that enable the object to exist.
The soul is nourished via the G-dly core implanted in all physical creation. A ray of Hashem’s light is found in all material and the soul derives comfort and pleasure when ‘fed’ this illumination.
When the opportunity arises for us to do a mitzvah let’s visualize a shining beam of G-dly light permeating our soul. Eternal joy and inner completion is felt by her. Something to think about next time you study Torah and do mitzvot.
When we aspire to spread goodness onto others, act selflessly and go beyond our natural tendencies we shine our Divine light onto this world. The greatest challenge we face is that our G-dly soul is mostly hidden underneath many layers of animalistic and egotistic drives. Life challenges us to discover the hidden roses amongst the weeds; to find our G-dly souls among selfish desires.
By default our thoughts, speech and actions originate from our animal soul; in other words we are naturally drawn to self-centeredness. Material indulgence is decked with ‘booby-traps’ that draw us to fulfill our animalistic drives, a.k.a ego. In short, all motivating factors that originate from self-absorption are not divinely inspired and interfere with our G-dly mission.
Excessive focus on our egos leaves us short sighted of our grand task in life; to get to know who we really are, a spark of G-dliness. We are here to work on perfecting ourselves and refine our character traits; to steer away from our ‘natural selfish tendencies’ we were born with. Let us not lose track of this tremendous challenge and sense of accomplishment followed after a job well-done.
The Rebbe of Kotzk said: “If a person is truly aware that Hashem created the world, then all earthly things appear to be of negligible value. If one were truly convinced of the uniqueness of his mission in life his behavior would be radically different and he would put great effort into discovering that mission and fulfilling it. The extent of our efforts to accumulate earthly things indicates the value we ascribe to materialism. The very first words of the Torah hint at the basis for a spiritual life, “And the earth (and everything associated with it i.e. material goals) was barren and desolate.” (Bereishis 1:2) From the onset of the Torah we are already being taught what our goals in life should be – to attach our soul to Hashem; anything else is meaningless and empty.
Our goal in life should be to synchronize our will with Hashem’s will so that we may eternally bound ourselves to Him. Pursuit of this lofty goal essentially nourishes our soul and contributes to a healthy well-rounded life enveloped in meaning and happiness. Fundamentally, this is the basis of performing all mitzvot.
When the soul descends to this world it is placed in a coarse materialistic package called the body. This environment creates a thick barrier which obstructs the soul from being able to sense attachment to Hashem. Basically you can call the body a spiritual sewer, yet it is in this most challenging space that the soul can fulfill the goal of attaching itself to doing Hashem’s will through free-will.
Hashem ‘craves’ for us (a.k.a. the soul) to become one with Him. The success in doing so is solely dependent on our will. Our will is developed through recognizing and strengthening our deep love for Him; the more we love Hashem the more we will desire to become one with Him.
Bitachon (trust) is born out of emuna; an inner sense of knowledge and security that nothing is by chance. No other real assurance exists other than knowing that Hashem’s compassion is available to us 24/7. The Chazon Ish ztk’l teaches that trust does not mean that everything will be as we wish. It is our firm belief that nothing is happenstance and everything is directly supervised by Hashem, a loving Fatherly authority; all is for our ultimate good.
Emuna is a mindset, an intellectual belief that Hashem interacts with every aspect of life. Bitachon on the other hand is the practical attitude and application of this viewpoint (emuna). Bitachon affects our decisions and emotions. With bitachon we live life feeling secure and assured that we are not alone.
That is our task in life- to constantly fortify our emuna and bitachon no matter how difficult the experience we face. Measure for measure as we work to increase our emuna Hashem’s boundless compassion becomes more revealed. The Chazon Ish writes in ‘Emunah and Bitachon’ that a person who works on uplifting her emuna will clearly be shown Hashem’s ‘personal involvement’ in her life. Bitachon which leads to inner serenity will surely follow.
Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated and sponsored to the refuah shleimah of Tsipora Sara bas Basya Meira. May Hashem send her a complete healing b’ruit hanefesh v’briut haguf among all of Klal Yisrael who are sick and suffering b’karov, b’rachamaim, Amen.
Every incident is personally ‘supervised and guided’ by Hashem Yitborach in the most meticulous manner. Hashem turns events around according to our soul’s needs in order for us to achieve complete soul repair. We can live our entire lives without even noticing that Hashem is guiding every step of our life ‘behind the scenes’. A person can see his life as a chain of happenstance and ‘natural’ outcomes not associating Hashem with any occurrence.
Emuna teaches us to live life awake and be aware of Hashem’s intimate presence; never forget for a moment Who created and continues to create our existence. Emuna teaches us to live mindful and understand that Hashem speaks to us through the circumstances of our lives. Our challenges bring forth into actuality that which is hidden in potential. Just as a coach strengthens the one he trains by ‘raising the bar’, so too just Borei Olam ‘up the intensity’ in spiritual development.
We experience various situations in life – some geared toward emuna, others to develop our middot and some are wake up calls’; but each is custom-designed for our growth. Every ounce of discomfort & annoyance, even a mosquito bite, each time we must wait in line or forget our keys remember it’s all from Hashem.
The Chofetz Chaim ztk’l teaches a parable that clarifies the understanding of the importance of constant review and repetition of emuna learning.
It is likened to a man who draws water from a well on a freezing 20 degrees below zero winter day. He stores the bucket of water outside until he wishes to use it. However to his amazement after a few hours he finds the water frozen solid. The amount of work now required by him to enjoy some of the water is tremendous; he will have to chisel his way to enjoy but a few drops.
However if he was wise he would have made sure to check on the water every so often. As a thin layer of ice would begin to form on top he would have simply had to give it a quick stir in order for it to break apart and prevent the formation of a solid block of ice.
We take an insightful teaching from this analogy as this resembles our avodah when it comes to learning emuna. Emuna requires constant review, evaluation and integration in our lives or else it will freeze and become difficult to access. The world outside is cold and numbs our emuna senses.
Therefore we must constant dip ourselves into the warm and loving study of emuna to keep our souls well-nourished with the ‘water’ it so desperately needs to drink!
Our entire purpose in life is to arrive to the One and Only truth- Ein Od Milvado the absolute knowledge of Hashem. There is no other power that brings about events without the ratzon of Hashem; ‘His will’ comes through His emissaries – a.k.a. ‘natural means’.
The Ramban ztk’l teaches in his commentary at the end of Parshat Bo- the intention of all the mitzvot is for us to live with emuna in Hashem and recognize His constant presence and intervention in our lives. The result of which is a profound sense of appreciation for Him having created us and giving us the opportunity to live. This is our sole purpose in life.
To bring this one step further our task is to differentiate between event and it’s seemingly ‘natural cause’ and link it directly to its true source – ratzon Hashem. There is no other cause but His will; Hashem is the Seebat HaSeebot (Reason of Reasons).
The Gra’, the Vilna Gaon ztk’l, further elucidates on this teaching in his Mishlei commentary (22:39)- the founding principle behind the giving of the Torah to B’nai Yisrael is that they should place their complete trust in HaKadosh Baruch Hu; that is the entire purpose behind keeping mitzvot.
There is one and only one way to implant this recognition firmly and deeply within us; repetition and review. Reminding oneself of this fundamental message evening, morning and afternoon is the only way to keep it viable in every step we take. The world presents us with ‘nature’, coincidence and logical reason. Learning emuna equips us with the necessary armor to pierce these outer shells and see Hashem in it all.
Avraham Avinu implanted within the Jewish people the concept of emuna. He challenged the pagan beliefs of his time and faithfully proclaimed the belief in One Supreme Authority. We his descendants are gifted with the name Ma’aminim b’nei Ma’aminim – Believers the children of believers.
By definition emuna means faithfulness and loyalty; a commitment to uphold the words of the Torah. This allegiance is not dependent on logical understanding or intellectual rationale. It is a declaration on our behalf to uphold the belief system taught to us by our Holy Torah by virtue of the fact that it is Divine, 100% truthful and just. All of this we inherited from Avraham Avinu.
The preservation of our Torah is credited to the loyal and consistent transmission from father to son throughout the generations. We know that the guiding messages of the Torah are accurate. It must be since without this knowledge we have no spiritual existence; likened to cutting off our spiritual air supply.
In Parshat Reeh (14:1) the Torah clearly states, “Banim atem l’Hashem (You are children of Hashem)”. Hashem will never forsake or abandon His beloved children. We need to consistently reassure ourselves of this vital message at times of difficulty. This is the pathway to strengthen our emuna – fortifying the notion that Hashem’s love is eternal and will never perish.
In good times and in bitter times our emuna ought to flow in our mind and heart and permeate our entire being singing the words Ani Ma’amin – I believe!