Thursday, April 26, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
There is a story about a little wave, bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time. He’s enjoying the wind and the fresh air – until he notices the other waves in front of him, crashing against the shore. “My G-d, this is terrible,” the wave says. “Look what’s going to happen to me!”
Then along comes another wave. It sees the first wave, looking grim, and it says to him: “Why do you look so sad?” The first wave says: “You don’t understand! We’re all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn’t it terrible?”
The second wave says: “No, you don’t understand. You’re not a wave; you’re part of the ocean.”
A wave who can only see his existence by his own immediate surroundings, his own personal life, and fails to recognize and notice a greater picture, lives a very frightening existence. There are inevitable crashes in life, there is risk all the time, and this myopic perspective brings much fear. A person who holds on to their identity and individuality as the only means for defining their reality, and way of life, will have every reason to be insecure and afraid that they stand to loose something or worse yet everything, by being vulnerable, giving, and one with others. For them, life is an eternal rat race, and a dog eat dog world.
In truth, we are all part of one destiny, all in the same boat, doing different necessary jobs and tasks to bring the world to fulfill its G-dly intended purpose. We are all created in G-ds image, His messengers, to bring about, “to repair – to perfect, the world, under the sovereignty of G-d.”
A person, who has a humble spirit, recognizes, no man is an island unto himself, it’s not just about one wave, it’s about a whole ocean. We are all, part of this collective purpose, why G-d created the world. This person, will have more understanding and empathy for others. This person, will be appreciative of others, will be able to better tolerate others, will consider other peoples point of view a lot more, and won’t feel slighted as often, by others.
Once, there where two passengers sitting side by side on their little boat. All of a sudden one notices the other, drilling a whole under his sit. Horrified, the other fellow said, “What are you doing, making a hole in the boat?” The other fellow answered, “It’s none of your business. I paid for my seat. I do what I want; you mind your own business.” The other fellow responds, “I don’t care that you paid for your seat, the boat you are drilling a hole into, is rented to both of us.”
Some people unfortunately see the whole world and all of life, revolving around them. It’s all about me, I. In conversation, they always need to be the center of attraction and need to be right. At work, they feel many times like everyone are starting up with them, or they are always given the raw end of the deal. Sometimes they are over achievers to get the attention and in the process, hurt themselves. Sometimes, they are the superior, always waiting to be agreed with, and flattered.
For a persons own well being, it helps recognizing the truth. We are all on the same boat. There is much more power in many, working in harmony, than each one working in dissonance and discord. When you crash on the shores as, an individual, you are a goner. However when you always recognized, you were part of an ocean in addition to being your own wave, then when you crash, you are not lost. You are absorbed back into the greater picture, only to be supported and develop into even a greater wave, the next time around.
The above, is the difference between a humble individual, and an arrogant, ego filled, self centered individual.
Friday, April 6, 2012
We read in the Hagadah – story of Passover that over Passover there is a commandment to recount, and communicate, the story of Exodus from Egypt. “And, all those who increase in telling the story of Passover, is praiseworthy. And even if we are all wise people, people of understanding and we know the entire Bible, it is a commandment to recount the story of Exodus.”
A couple of questions are in order.
There are many commandments in the Bible that one must observe whether they are a Moses, King Solomon or your simple average wood chopper. Observing the commandments, is a matter of deed, action, doing, because all that really matters in this world, isn’t so much what you have in mind, as what you do in practice. So why would anyone think, that talking about the miracles of Exodus would be something that a wise man or an understanding man, would perhaps be exempt from doing?
Another thing, we don’t find when doing any other commandment a value, in prolonging and stretching its observance. If you where to give a little charity or a lot, the good deed is the same, a little more valuable or a little less valuable. While here, the book seems to be saying, the more we talk about Exodus, the more we elongate its actual performance, the better it is. To plagiarize another set of questions. Why is this commandment, different from other commandments, in that the actual deed is recommended to be stretched?
Spiritually and mystically, the big world, as it is in the small world, every human being, Egypt represents the narrow passage between the head and the heart. It’s not easy getting the thoughts and conclusions of our mind to affect the emotions of our heart. There is a passage, the neck, and it’s narrow, only a little of the mind, gets down over there through the normal channels. That is why, many times, people can understand with their mind one thing, and yet in their heart they feel completely different. They encounter great difficulty trying to change the feelings of their heart, even when they know clearly in their minds, they should be feeling differently.
There is a subconscious (in truth higher, wider and deeper than regular conscience) that when accessed, encounters no hindrances in reaching and affecting the emotions and feelings of the heart. Its’ power is limitless. This is the essence of going out, liberating oneself from Egypt, spiritually. Out of the limitations that holds us down, and admittance into a higher stratosphere.
Some people might argue, after all, human beings are defined by the fact that they are intellectual, rational beings. I, have success influencing and controlling my emotions and desires with the sheer power of my wisdom and intellect. I don’t need anything deeper, wider or higher than intellect. They say, intellect itself – mind, over matter.
Therefore the Hagadah instructs us, that even if we where all wise and we think we have it all under control, there is a need for everyone, to experience a going out of Egypt. Accessing, this higher frequency within. The proof, is in the unusual requirement of the commandment itself which tells us, “Whoever increases and stretches the telling of this miracle…..” This unique command to experience freedom means, more than what’s otherwise the normal boundary.
While it is true that in the majority of situations when we serve and worship G-d, there is a finite requirement for the observance, and once met the deed is fulfilled. In the case of liberating oneself from our own limitations, the mitzvah-good deed itself, has no limits, and takes on a limitless character. Going out of Egypt, to free oneself from his own constraints, to become more than yourself in life, this is an observance that demands of a person to access and reach the “increase” level.
Now we understand the meaning of the statement, “It was in the merit of faith that our ancestors where redeemed from Egypt.” To free oneself from any internal Egypt, it is necessary to access an energy that surpasses logic. The mind must be left behind and commitment and surrender is what attaches us to more. Only with faith, can one become, a free people.
That is why the Passover story continues, with the great sages who already fulfilled all that was necessary for the evening, and still went beyond, and conversed all night, about the great miracles.
Monday, April 2, 2012
When the Israelites left Egypt, in Hebrew, the Book, uses the plural tense to describe their departure from Egypt. “These are the trips, (in the plural tense) the children of Israel took when exiting the land of Egypt.” The Bible is telling us, that the going out, from slavery to freedom is not just a one time act. Freedom from slavery, is an ongoing process. As long as we are human, everyday is an opportunity to free ourselves from our current standing and condition to a level, higher than we where yesterday.
It is for this very reason, the Bible instructs us, that we must remember the exodus from Egypt every day of our lives. After all, what benefit is there to me, and why do I need to remember, every day, something that took place so many years ago?
The answer lies in that, the exodus has to be an ongoing passage.
How does a person end up in his own personal Egypt?
The books of mysticism explain, that everything we have in this physical world must have its roots in the spiritual world. It is this, underlying spiritual truth, and reality, that gives birth to the physical actuality. The same is also true within a persons own life. The fact that he serves G-d in a particular way through his own choices, in other words, he is creating a certain spiritual reality in his own life, this becomes the background and blueprint for what later on becomes a persons physical reality.
The most powerful force for serving G-d is, love. When we love G-d fully, with all our being, to the point that it is total and unconditional, “and you shall love G-d with all your being,” then, you will serve him when times and things are good, or the opposite, in your own estimation. After all, your love for G-d is not only when it serves your approval and liking.
Someone who is truly, totally and all the way in love, will love that person under all circumstances and not just when it is convenient and to their liking. When you are in truly love, the entire focus, is on the other one.
This powerful sort of relationship to the spiritual, elevates a person totally, away from his bodily wants and desires. It’s not that he doesn’t have any bodily needs, it’s that the needs of the body are only there to serve his love for G-d. Since he is spiritually completely dedicated, there will never be that possibility on a physical level that the person would ever become distracted and even worse, enslaved to the natural and emotional grips of the physical existence.
Egypt and what it represents spiritually, becomes a reality in this physical world only because G-d created the possibility of free choice. The possibility to limit ones dedication to the infinite and unfettered spiritual, with the so many distractions we have in this world, is what gives rise to the shackles, and the personal Egypt.
When a person decides to feed his own bodily pleasures, for its own sake, he diverts his soul towards his physical being, and the more he has given himself over, and surrenders himself to this side of existence, the more he has diverted, confined and enslaved his spirit to the clutches of the finite world of nature.
The Talmud says, “A tied up person can not free himself.” A person must connect and draw from a strength and power greater than himself, if he is to untie his own shackles from past bad habits. This is what the eating of the Matza on Passover does for a person.
Matza represents the power of faith which is round and circular. Faith is not like logic, that a person, can neatly place his mind around its coherent common sense, and make heads and tails out of it. Faith is a power that connects the deepest aspects of one soul, with the deepest levels of G-d. The infinite within, with the infinite above.
Through the strength we derive from Passover, we are able to relive the freedom from the clutches of our own personal slavery, and experience our own personal exodus.