Once the Great Rabbi Aaron of Karlin was asked, what he learned from his teacher, the preacher of Mezritch. He answered “nothing.” He was asked, what do you mean by , “Nothing”? He answered. "I learned by being with my teacher and mentor that, I am nothing.”
It is said of the Great Rabbi Aaron of Karlin, that when he would recite the “song of songs” (considered the Holy of Holies of all the books in the Bible) authored by King Solomon, on Friday afternoons, the Angels would stop their own singing and gather to hear Rabbi Aaron. One Friday evening, the preacher of Mezritch asked Rabbi Aaron to compose a song in honor of the Shabbat. Rabbi Aaron composed the very spiritual song, sung and recited on hundreds of thousands of tables every Shabbat, “G-d, I yearn to feel the pleasure, ecstasy and bliss of the Shabbat, harmonious and one with your charming nation……” A song and prayer, totally spirit and soul.
It is widely accepted that an atom is almost entirely 99.9999999999999999% empty space. Add to that, that we are approximately 70% water and the rest carbon, give or take a little here and there. `Anyone who contemplates just a little, about, who they are, like, Who am “I”? What, am “I”? Who, is it that thinks and experiences life? What, is actually and categorically the real “me”? Must be greatly perplexed and mystified by the question.
Especially if one is to consider quantum physics and the notion that everything is energy, all of it together, doesn’t really sound or look good to the one who can touch his body and the table in front of him, and believes in, what I see and what I touch, is all that is there.
So what are we? Who are we? And what’s it all about?
We are, the awareness and the experience of the self.
The physical world which is finite in time and space, has its beginning and has its end. We, existed before we come into this world, and we (the awareness of self) continue to exist after we leave this physical world.
The mystic Rabbi Yitzchak Luria taught. We are not physical bodies who experience spirituality. To the contrary. Who we are, is spiritual. Cannot be seen or touched or measured, but is there by the mere fact that we are aware of our existence, something that no other creature in the world is able to experience.
A stone and tree never knows it is alive. Animals, while they have emotional experiences never know of their existence in third person as a human knows of itself.
We (our G-dly souls) are sent down to this physical world to deal with this illusion and overcome the temptations and distractions this fooling world throws in our direction every time we want to compromise the spiritual for the physical. Every time we exercise this strength and victory, the soul is strengthened many many times so.
The great works of Chassidus explain that in truth there is nothing else but Him, in the heavens above and in the world below. It is all, energy. G-d gives us the gift of self-awareness, so we should use it to serve Him. Falling for the glitter of this world, is being trapped by a mere appearance, which is without substance.
Every time we use our G-d given free choice that comes as a package deal with self-awareness, to do what is right, we enhance our true and real selves. We enriched our real existence, for all eternity, since the soul is forever. The things we do for our bodies and everything related to this world is temporary. The nice things, the G-dly things we do for our souls, the G-dly wisdom we acquire and the improvement to our character, remain forever, as part of our accomplishments and identity, to reap its reward forever.