1- Esclarecimiento del propósito de la Vida

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Es deber de toda persona comenzar su trabajo aclarándose qué propósito tiene su vida.

Suministraremos una breve introducción a este asunto. Todo judío sabe como cosa natural que existe un Creador Que creó el Universo y lo creó a él; que sustenta el mundo entero, inclusive a él.

El Creador del Universo dice a cada persona lo que desea de él. Pero la raíz del problema, es que la persona no tiene claridad de lo que Hashem quiere de ella. Conocer con precisión que pide y exige Hashem que haga durante su vida. Si nos preguntamos: “¿Estamos tratando con alguien que no sabe que la Torá es de origen Divino? ¡Ya recibimos la Torá, y allí explica que el propósito de la vida del hombre es cumplir las 613 mitzvot (mandamientos)!”

Sin embargo, la verdad es que el mundo es llamado olam, que procede de la palabra he’lem (ocultación), porque aquí, en este mundo, la confusión es tremenda. Pues así lo quiso Hashem, que todo tiempo que la persona no anhele de todo corazón y dedique todo su esfuerzo para aclarar con precisión “Qué requiere de ti Hashem, tu Dios” (Devarim 10:12) no lo sabrá y pasará su vida con confusión e ignorancia, sin hallar un camino determinado para servir al Creador.

Es decir, la persona sabe sin duda que debe cumplir las 613 mitzvot, pero servir a Hashem no es sólo el cumplimiento de mitzvot cuando se presenta la oportunidad. Por el contrario, las 613 mitzvot deben cumplirse como quien construye una estructura, de manera que las mitzvot nos construyan apropiadamente. Por lo tanto, es necesario conocer el camino definido que nos indique como las mitzvot pueden ser cumplidas de tal forma que construyamos con ellas una estructura. Este camino debe definir el “comienzo” de la estructura, su continuación; y el objetivo del cumplimiento de todas las mitzvot. En otras palabras, la persona debe esclarecer cómo el cumplimiento de las mitzvot construirá su alma, y cuál es el proceso. Debe entender por donde comenzar, la continuación, y tener claro el objetivo.

Las 613 mitzvot fueron entregadas al hombre, pero es él trabajo del hombre identificar la mitzvá por la cual comenzar. (Obviamente, hay mitzvot de aplicación diaria, y aquellas que se aplican en períodos específicos, y sabemos cuándo cumplirlas. No nos referimos a ellas). Existe una mitzvá de amar a Hashem, y una mitzvá de temerle, y otra mitzvá de apegarse a Él, y muchas otras por el estilo, todas las cuales debemos ordenar. Sin conocer un orden determinado, hay he’lem. Cuando hay he’lem, es difícil entender el objetivo de las mitzvot.

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En primer lugar, antes de esclarecer estas cosas, se necesita que tenga verdadero deseo de conocerlas claramente. Debe tener una perspectiva correcta de la vida, entender que es lo que nos “sostiene” aquí en este mundo; conocer, que toda nuestra vida es sólo con el propósito de servir a Hashem. Es nuestra obligación y privilegio esclarecer el significado de nuestra vida aquí. Debemos entender y percibir que nuestro lugar de reposo y placer es el Mundo de la Recompensa – Gan Eden (Paraíso). Pero aquí, todo nuestro propósito es servir a Hashem, y debemos identificar cual es el camino confiable por donde andar para servirlo correctamente.

Los temas con los cuales tratamos aquí no son ideas filosóficas, o por el estilo, sino la forma correcta de vivir la vida, simplemente – la manera de vivir una vida verdadera en la tierra, vida que lleve a la persona al objetivo deseado. Trataremos de esclarecer los temas a medida que avanzamos de los fáciles a los más difíciles, peldaño por peldaño, como una escalera lo más claro de entender posible. De este modo, podremos ver claramente el camino bien fundamentado para servir a Hashem.

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Si preguntáramos a la gente: ¿A su parecer, por que área es conveniente y apropiado empezar el servicio de su Creador? ¿Cuál es el principal punto que piensa debe trabajar primero, teniendo en cuenta su situación actual? Alguna persona podría responder que le parece que está débil con respecto a su estudio de Torá, y que desde su punto de vista, eso es lo primero sobre lo que él mismo debe empezar a trabajar y corregir. Otro responderá que cuando observa su propio caso, encuentra que su punto vulnerable es lashón hará (hablar del prójimo). Siente que no es adecuadamente cuidadoso en cuidar su lengua, entonces de vez en cuando salen de su boca palabras no apropiadas, o prohibidas. Un tercero respondería que según su evaluación, el punto que debe trabajar es en shalom bait (paz en el hogar), cree que esto es algo que debe arreglar y rápidamente. No tiene suficiente paciencia con los miembros de su familia, no los involucra suficientemente en sus decisiones, y no les proporciona adecuadamente todas sus necesidades emocionales.

Y así, encontraremos muchas respuestas distintas entre la gente. En consecuencia, pareciera que cada persona necesita su respuesta personalizada en cuanto al camino correcto, dependiendo de su caso específico. Sin embargo, la verdad no es exactamente así. Por el contrario, casi sin excepción, existe un punto por el cual todos debemos empezar.

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Cada uno de nosotros ha sido enviado a este mundo desde el Mundo Superior. Aquellos que lo merecieron fueron enviados aquí del Gan Eden, y aquellos que no, fueron enviados aquí del Gehinom (Purgatorio). El denominador común es que todos regresamos aquí a este mundo para servir al Creador, bendito es Él. ¿Por qué razón regresamos a este mundo? Algunas personas han leído sefarim hakedoshim (obras sagradas) y han visto en ellos que cada persona ha regresado con el fin de corregir al menos un pecado. Ése pecado es su principal prueba, y eso es lo principal que debe rectificar en este mundo. Pero la verdad es que aunque la persona es enviada para rectificar determinado pecado, su trabajo no comienza con la corrección de ese pecado (toda regla tiene su excepción), sino mucho antes de eso. Es posible hablar de reparación una vez que existe una casa, y algo en ella se daña, como una pared, una puerta, o por el estilo; solo entonces, ese daño debe repararse. Pero si no existe ni siquiera una casa, no hay necesidad de reparar nada. Primero, necesitamos la casa, y luego, podría necesitar repararla.

Este también es el caso con nuestra avodá (servicio) al Creador en este mundo. Aun cuando, de hecho, el hombre vino aquí para reparar determinado pecado, eso no significa que toda su misión es solamente rectificar ese pecado, y que allí comienza y termina su trabajo. Por el contrario, toda persona primero debe construirse a si mismo, creando en su alma una estructura verdadera de avodat Hashem (servicio de D-s). Una vez hecho esto, su tarea principal pasa a ser rectificar el pecado por el cual fue enviado a este mundo. Pero antes, necesita tener en su alma una estructura verdadera, sólida y bien definida de avodat Hashem. Además, existen situaciones en las cuales la persona rectifica el pecado el cual le ocasionó daño en su reencarnación anterior en unos pocos minutos. Entonces, ¿desperdicia el resto de su vida? ¡Definitivamente no! está claro que toda persona debe construir su alma desde el comienzo hasta el final, y adicionalmente, prestar especial atención a corregir el pecado por el cual fue devuelto a este mundo.

Encontramos entonces que el corregir el pecado no es el principal punto en su servicio a Hashem, sino que existe una razón general para todas las personas en cuanto a porque bajan a este mundo. Entonces primero, debemos esclarecer cuál es esa razón, y cuando esa razón esté clara, ésta debe permanecer en nuestro consciente y tenerlo ante nuestros ojos siempre a toda hora y en todo momento. La razón de esto es que cada momento que estamos vivos, el propósito por el cual vivimos debe estar presente y dirigir nuestras vidas. Es por eso, que debemos vivir con el conocimiento del propósito día por día, hora por hora, de hecho – ¡cada instante! Es decir que el conocimiento de la razón de nuestra existencia no es un trozo de información ordinario, sino más bien, toda nuestra vida debe armonizar con este conocimiento. Por lo tanto, cada momento, debemos adaptar nuestros pensamientos, sentimientos y hechos a este propósito. Cuando conocemos y entendemos el propósito de nuestra vida, entenderemos que hasta la rectificación de un pecado particular se relaciona al propósito general, y la reparación particular es realmente parte del propósito general.

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Daremos un ejemplo: Un carpintero agarra una sierra en una mano y una tabla en la otra y se dispone a aserrar. Si mientras asierra la tabla, su mente esta absorta en asuntos ajenos a su trabajo, es probable que el corte salga con alguna falla, o que la tabla se resbale de su mano; hasta podría cortarse la mano, D-s no lo permita. Esto ocurre porque cuando tomó la sierra en la mano, estaba claro y confiado en lo que iba a hacer y cual era su propósito, y tenía presente cómo usar la sierra. Sin embargo, cuando estaba realmente aserrando, todo eso salió de su mente, y su mente se encontraba en otro lugar completamente distinto.

Lo mismo se aplica a nuestra vida. Jazal (nuestros Sabios) dijeron (Sanhedrín 7ª) que un juez debe imaginarse que tiene una espada colocada entre sus muslos (y un pequeño error sería peligroso). Rav Israel Salanter zt”l dijo que esto se aplica a cada persona, pues cada quien es su propio juez. Nuestro trabajo en este mundo es como el trabajo de ese carpintero. Si, jas veshalom (D-s no lo permita), estamos distraídos del propósito y el objetivo de la vida, estamos en constante peligro. Por lo tanto, después que hemos esclarecido el propósito y el objetivo de nuestra vida, debemos vivir con ese conocimiento día por día, hora por hora – literalmente cada momento, como mencionamos anteriormente. El conocimiento del propósito y el objetivo de la vida no es algo sobre lo cual escuchamos hablar, y lo escribimos, y luego lo almacenamos, desempolvándolo de Pesaj en Pesaj. Este conocimiento debe sentirse, vivirse y respirarse, de manera que todo su ser esté sumergido en él y se conduzca de acuerdo con el.

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¿Cuál es en realidad el propósito del hombre en este mundo?
El propósito del hombre es algo conocido, y no conocido. Es conocido, porque leemos, escuchamos al respecto. Pero en realidad, no se conoce. Porque si fuera que lo conociéramos debidamente (la palabra utilizada es yedia (conocimiento), que en hebreo denota “conexión”), y estuviésemos conectados a la idea, al conocimiento este, todo su modo de vida necesariamente cambiaría. Si la persona pusiera todo su empeño y se entrega con toda su alma hacia este conocimiento, y la búsqueda de la verdad viviera en él con pasión, tomaría un papel y una pluma, escribiría el propósito de su vida y colocaría el papel en su bolsillo y una vez cada quince minutos, sacaría el papel de su bolsillo para recordar al verlo, de manera que no olvide su propósito y viva de acuerdo con éste.

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Pero ahora, ¿cuál es el propósito del hombre en este mundo?
Las palabras del Mesilat Yesharim (Cap. 1) son conocidas. Él escribió: “En realidad, la única forma de lograr la perfección verdadera es a través de dvekut (apego) a Hashem. Eso es lo que dijo David HaMelej: “Y para mí, la cercanía a Hashem me es buena” (Tehilim 73:28). En otras palabras, si deseamos saber que hace completo al hombre, debe considerar lo que David HaMelej entendió que era bueno para él. Si era bueno para él, es bueno para cada uno de nosotros. Él dijo: “Y para mí, la cercanía a Hashem me es buena”.

A nadie le interesa una mesa rota o una silla rota. Nadie quiere dormir en una cama rota. Cuanto y más entonces, nadie, en el fondo, quiere ser una persona rota, sino más bien una persona completa (existe un concepto de “corazón roto”, pero no viene al caso aquí). ¿Qué es un judío completo? ¿Alguien que no carece de manos? ¿Quien no carece de piernas? No, eso es sólo perfección superficial, perfección física. La perfección verdadera, la perfección interna en el alma, es la perfección resultante de la cercanía a Hashem. Según escribió el Ramjal (Cap. 1): “En realidad, la perfección verdadera (la perfección de toda persona sin excepción) es dvekut a Hashem”. Como él dice allí: “Cualquier otra cosa considerada buena por la gente es vana, vacía e ilusoria”. Esto es todo lo que realmente tiene un judío en la vida – cercanía a Hashem y dvekut a Hashem. Toda la esencia del judío es estar cerca de Hashem y apegarse a Él. No sólo en el Mundo Venidero el propósito del hombre es apegarse al Creador, sino también en este mundo, su trabajo y propósito es apegarse al Creador. Si hay un momento en el cual no estamos apegados al Creador, por ese momento, es un humano incompleto. Carece de verdadera perfección, que es dvekut a Hashem.

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Una persona sincera, que escuche estas palabras y las acepte verdaderamente en su alma, debe tomar esas palabras del Ramjal, escribirlas en una hoja de papel y colocárselo en su bolsillo. Como cada quince minutos (de manera que las palabras estén ante sus ojos siempre), debe sacar el papel de su bolsillo y meditar en él bien, y recordarse una y otra vez: ¿Por qué estoy aquí? ¿Qué propósito tiene mi vida? La respuesta es – dvekut a Hashem. Debe leer las palabras una y otra vez hasta que vivan ante sus ojos y ya no necesite mirar el papel. Su alma reconocerá claramente el propósito de la vida y constantemente se esforzará en aplicar el mensaje.

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El tiempo en que recordamos el propósito de nuestra vida es cuando estamos verdaderamente vivos (tiempos distintos al que estudia Torá, como explicaremos más adelante, con la ayuda de Hashem). El resto del tiempo, cuando estamos dedicados a otras cosas sin pensar en el Creador, es similar a estar muertos. Estaremos necesitados “de la resurrección de los muertos” cada momento, recordando para qué vivimos y qué propósito tiene en este mundo. Aún cuando la persona cumple mitzvot, debe recordar que su propósito se insinúa en la palabra mitzvá que se relaciona con la palabra tzavta (conexión), como los describen los sefarim hakedoshim. Es decir, todo el propósito de las mitzvot es para estar conectados (tzevet) con el Creador, estar cerca y apegado a Él. Sin esto, falta la esencia interior principal de la mitzvá. La mitzvá queda como un cuerpo sin alma.

“Hashem, la Torá e Israel son uno” (Zohar 3:73a). Es decir, la Torá, su estudio y el cumplimiento de sus mitzvot, deben realizarse en modo de unidad, en un modo que permita al hombre apegarse a la Torá y al Creador. Este es el propósito de nuestra vida – apego a la Torá y a Hashem.

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“Y para mí, la cercanía a Hashem me es buena”. Esto no es simple información o un slogan, sino la realidad de la vida. No es un asunto que sólo se aplica en Pesaj, Shavuot, o Sucot, sino aplica a cada momento de nuestra vida, los 365 días del año, las 24 horas del día (para quien tiene el privilegio de apegarse al Creador hasta cuando duerme), y 60 minutos por hora; esta es toda la existencia del hombre – estar cerca del Creador y apegarse a Él, como dice el versículo “y para mí, la cercanía a Hashem me es buena”. Por supuesto, para vivir de este modo, necesitamos un camino definido en nuestra avodat Hashem, que indicará como podemos lograr dvekut al Creador, literalmente cada momento. Pero antes de describir el camino para ello, la persona debe estar absolutamente clara sin sombra de duda, qué propósito tiene su vida. Debe tener claro que el propósito de la vida es estar cerca y apegado al Creador literalmente cada momento – apego interior, con todas las fibras de nuestro ser. En otras palabras, antes de que comencemos a buscar y describir el camino para esto, debemos estar absolutamente claros sobre qué camino buscamos, y a dónde queremos que nos conduzca. Por supuesto, debe haber absoluta claridad que el objetivo es “y para mí, la cercanía a Hashem me es buena”. Este es el punto que cada individuo debe esclarecerse enteramente, hasta que realmente sienta en su alma que este punto, el propósito de la vida, lo tiene claro sin duda alguna.

Si durante el proceso de esclarecer que el propósito de su vida es “y para mí, la cercanía a Hashem me es buena”, le viene a la mente la idea que para apegarse a Hashem, debemos estar tan separados del mundo como lo estuvo Moshé Rabenu, y estar totalmente desprendidos de todos los asuntos terrenales. Debe saber que dicho pensamiento viene del consejo del yetzer hará (inclinación al mal), que desea distanciar a la persona de la verdad y del Creador, por lo tanto, busca dibujar la cercanía a Hashem como algo negro, digno sólo de unos cuantos privilegiados; pero para alguien como tú, ni hablar del asunto. No obstante, la verdad es que el Ramjal indica claramente lo contrario. El Ramjal, cuya obra Mesilat Yesharim está fundamentada en la enseñanza talmúdica de Rabí Pinjas ben Yair, comienza desde el nivel más básico, el estudio de la Torá conduce a la prudencia y continúa hasta que llega al nivel de Ruaj Hakodesh (Inspiración Divina) y el poder de resucitar a los muertos. Al final de su obra, después de encaminar al individuo al logro estos altos y encumbrados niveles, escribe lo siguiente (Cap. 26): “Y usted, querido lector, debe saber al igual que yo, que no he incluido en esta obra todas las leyes de la Jasidut (devoción). Es obvio que cada persona, dependiendo de su negocio u ocupación, requiere orientación y guía. La manera de Jasidut adecuada para quien sólo se ocupa del estudio de la Torá no es el mismo modo de Jasidut adecuado para alguien que necesita trabajar como empleado para otro y ninguno de estos es el modo de Jasidut adecuado para quien se dedica al comercio. Lo mismo se aplica a todos los detalles de los compromisos de la persona en el mundo, cada quien tiene un camino de Jasidut apropiado para él de acuerdo a su situación. No es que cambie la esencia de la Jasidut, ya que ésta es equivalente para todos y no es otra cosa sino el actuar de un modo que agrade al Creador. Sin embargo, puesto que las condiciones son distintas, es imposible que los medios que conducen al objetivo no cambien para cada persona de acuerdo a sus circunstancias. Puede ser un completo jasid quien, por necesidad, (esto debe ser por verdadera necesidad, no pereza de estudiar Torá, necesitamos una evaluación sincera para asegurar que no estamos entre aquellos que “abandonan la Torá”. Asesorarnos con un gran Rabino con respecto a este tema) realiza trabajos serviles, – igual como aquel cuya boca no cesa de estudiar. Por sus palabras es evidente que podemos ser un jasid que se apega a su Creador hasta el extremo que alcance Ruaj HaKodesh y el poder de resucitar los muertos, independientemente de su ocupación, bien sea estudiando Torá o trabajando. Esto es siempre y cuando que todas sus acciones sean verdaderamente por amor a D-s, estudia Torá en la medida que se lo permitan sus actividades y capacidad, y sólo trabaja lo necesario para mantenerse y por amor al Cielo. No obstante, estudiamos que cualquiera puede llegar a apegarse a su Creador, y no sólo es aplicable a unos cuantos que se apartan de todos los asuntos terrenales.

Hemos aprendido, entonces, que primero debemos esclarecernos que el propósito de la vida es lograr la cercanía a Hashem, después de eso, debemos estar seguros que realmente se aplica a él, y que es apto y calificado para ello, sin sombra de duda.

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Antes de haber esclarecido la obligación y el propósito de la persona en este mundo, presentamos una idea. Escribimos que una vez esclarecida la naturaleza de nuestra obligación y propósito, debe recordar este propósito durante todo el día. Debe escribírselo, y como cada cuarto de hora, debe sacarlo del bolsillo y leerlo, de manera que siempre tenga presente su propósito delante de él. Si es cierto, ahora que hemos esclarecido que el propósito de la persona en este mundo es estar cerca de Hashem y dvekut a Él, debemos escribirlo y tratar de recordarlo durante todo el día, como mencionamos anteriormente.

Este conocimiento es cuestión de supervivencia, es la esencia de la vida misma y no es un conocimiento común. Suministraremos un ejemplo: Una persona sube a un árbol, y se sienta en una de las ramas. De repente, la rama se quiebra y se cae. Éste, inmediatamente, se agarra del tronco del árbol, siente que debe estar agarrado a éste todo el tiempo, no sea que se caiga y muera, jas veshalom. La persona entiende que, el conocimiento de que debe agarrarse al árbol no es un conocimiento común, la persona entiende que su propia vida depende de ello. Por cuanto que la persona en forma natural (sin razón) no se agarra del tronco de un árbol y se aferra a el con toda su fuerza, pero el no hacerlo pone en riesgo su vida. Vemos, que el tener presente el conocimiento lo mantiene vivo y el olvidarlo, aunque sea por un instante, le ocasionaría la muerte, jas veshalom.

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La moraleja es clara. Una persona debe entender que su propia vida depende de esto. El conocimiento básico de que el propósito de nuestra vida es estar cerca del Creador debe estar presente ante sus ojos. Este no puede ser un tipo común de conocimiento, sino que debemos entender que toda su vida depende de esto, y si olvida este conocimiento, pone toda su vida en riesgo. Aún antes de saber la manera de apegarnos a nuestro Creador, primero debemos tener presente ante nuestros ojos el conocimiento claro de que toda la vida del hombre depende del conocimiento que todo su propósito es estar cerca y apegado al Creador.

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El Ramjal enseña que el concepto de “Árbol de la Vida” está relacionado con el pasuk (versículo): (Devarim 4:4) “Y ustedes, quienes están apegados a Hashem, vuestro Dios, están todos vivos hoy”.

La realidad de la vida es: “Y ustedes, quienes están apegados a Hashem…”. Esa es la vida y si, jas veshalom, no nos apegamos a nuestro Creador, las palabras de Jazal: “Los malvados aun en vida son llamados muertos”, (Berajot 18b) se aplican a él. Aun cuando exteriormente, físicamente, tales personas están vivas, carecen la verdadera vitalidad, que es dvekut al Creador. Al carecer de esto, se definen como muertos, como dice: “Y ustedes, quienes están apegados a Hashem, vuestro Dios, están todos vivos hoy”. Únicamente si hay un cumplimiento de “apegados a Hashem”, entonces existe el “estar todos vivos”, pero si no hay el “apegados a Hashem” su vida no es verdadera vida, jas veshalom.

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Debemos reflexionar sobre estas palabras, entenderlas bien, e internalizarlas profundamente en nuestros corazones. Estamos tratando con toda la esencia y el propósito del hombre. El propósito del hombre es “Y ustedes, quienes están apegados a Hashem, vuestro Dios, están todos vivos hoy”. Esa es toda la esencia del hombre, como escribió el Ramjal: “Y para mí, la cercanía a Hashem me es buena”. Cualquier otra cosa considerada buena por la gente no es más que vano y engañoso, vacío e ilusorio. Internalicemos bien esta idea, de que de hecho no existe nada más en la vida que la cercanía y dvekut a Hashem, y que todas las 613 mitzvot son únicamente los medios para alcanzar este objetivo. Ciertamente, necesitamos un método por medio del cual arraigar estas palabras al corazón. No obstante, en nuestras mentes, primero debe estar absolutamente claro que la esencia de la vida es la cercanía y dvekut a Hashem, y fuera de esto no hay nada más. Todas nuestras acciones, bien sea físicas o espirituales, son únicamente medios para apegarnos al Creador, y el más poderoso de estos medios es la Torá.

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La conclusión de todo lo que hemos dicho es que debemos tener aspiraciones claras de estar apegados a Hashem literalmente cada momento, y desearlo sinceramente. Solo, cuando tiene esta aspiración clara, entonces su tarea es buscar la manera de alcanzar un tipo de vida donde estemos apegados al Creador literalmente cada momento. Aunque, primero debemos mantener un claro conocimiento que esto es, en realidad, su propósito en la vida, y tener un claro deseo de lograrlo. Mientras mayor sea nuestro deseo de vivir con constante dvekut a Hashem, mayor será su capacidad de esforzarse y eliminar toda la confusión que le impide el verdadero apego a su Creador. Pero si su deseo y voluntad son débiles, cualquier pequeño y trivial obstáculo le impedirá lograr un verdadero dvekut a su Creador.

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Existe un dicho hebreo bien conocido que dice que “por tantos árboles no se ve el bosque”. Toda creación en el mundo tiene una finalidad espiritual, entonces utilizaremos este dicho para nuestros propósitos, a fin de explicar el estilo de vida apropiado, el de dvekut a Hashem. Hay 613 mitzvot, y la principal es el estudio de la Torá, como dijeron nuestros Sabios: “El estudio de la Torá equivale a todas ellas”. Las 613 mitzvot son solo raíces, pero los detalles de las mitzvot son muy numerosos. Las palabras del Zohar, que dicen que las 613 mitzvot son 613 tiempos, 613 consejos al hombre, son bien conocidas. ¿Para qué estos consejos? La respuesta es que ellos nos aconsejan cómo apegarnos al Creador. Es decir, toda la esencia de las mitzvot no es algo independiente. Más bien, son un mapa, como una guía de cómo lograr dvekut a nuestro Creador. En tal caso, las mitzvot tienen dos elementos: La parte del hacer, o hablar, etc. y adicional a este también tenemos el propósito de la mitzvá, que es la que acerca a la persona a apegarse a Hashem.

Existen numerosos detalles del aspecto práctico de las mitzvot, y ellos son “los muchos árboles del bosque”. (Las palabras etz y etza – árbol y consejo – están relacionadas, pero este es un concepto profundo, y no es éste el lugar para su explicación). Pero desde el punto de vista de la esencia interna, el propósito, todas las mitzvot tienen una finalidad, que es la cercanía a Hashem y dvekut a Él.

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Debemos contemplar esto con el ejemplo de una mitzvá, la mitzvá de que el hombre se envuelva en un talit. El hombre se levanta por la mañana y va a la sinagoga y se envuelve en un talit. De este modo, cumple una mitzvá de la Torá. ¿Qué piensa la persona en el momento que se esta envolviendo? En realidad, la primera pregunta no debe ser en qué piensa, sino, ¿acaso piensa en algo? O quizás, sus acciones se realizan automáticamente y sin pensar (pensamiento contemplativo, por supuesto, existe algo de pensamiento práctico). Pero supongamos que nuestro caso es alguien que sí piensa. Analicemos qué piensa cuando se envuelve en el talit. ¿Es su pensamiento apropiado?, su pensamiento debería ser como el siguiente: “Por cuanto que concluimos que por ley de la Torá las mitzvot requieren intención, yo tengo la intención, cuando me envuelvo en el talit de cumplir una mitzvá de la Torá”. Meditemos sobre esto. Explicamos que el Zohar escribe que las 613 mitzvot “nos aconsejan” como acercarnos a Hashem. Si es así, puesto que un hombre se reviste un talit día tras día, semana tras semana durante muchos años, ¿por qué no siente la cercanía a Hashem que debió haberse desarrollado por las muchas veces que cumplió esta mitzvá? Después de todo, las palabras del Zohar son ciertas y reales. Debería ser que todo aquel que diariamente tiene en mente cumplir el mandamiento positivo de la Torá mientras se envuelve en el talit, debería progresivamente sentir más y más la cercanía de Hashem en su corazón. ¿Por qué vemos que no muchos han, mediante el uso diario del talit, logrado una palpable cercanía a Hashem? Tenemos que decir que existe una manera verdadera, más profunda de cumplir esta mitzvá. Puesto que vemos que el uso diario del talit no lleva a la persona a la dvekut, es decir, dvekut palpable, debemos investigar que nos falta en la manera que usamos el talit. Debe faltar algo, ¿porque el objetivo interno, que es la cercanía palpable a Hashem, no es logrado mediante el cumplimiento de esta mitzvá, entre mucha gente pura?

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Intentaremos entender el asunto. Sólo dimos un ejemplo con respecto a envolverse en un talit. Este fue sólo un ejemplo. Pero también estudiamos Torá y cumplimos muchas otras mitzvot. ¿Qué es lo que nos impide sentirnos cerca de Él? Quizás cumplimos las condiciones externas de las mitzvot, pero muchos de nosotros carecemos de la esencia interna de la mitzvá, la cercanía a Hashem, que es su propósito. Esto necesita esclarecimiento. ¿Cómo debemos estudiar Torá y cumplir las mitzvot de manera que logremos una cercanía palpable a Hashem? Todo judío tiene la responsabilidad de cumplir con “Construiré un santuario en mi corazón”. Esto significa que las mitzvot deben traernos a un estado en el cual Hashem esté con él y resida en su corazón, y realmente sentirá esto, en forma palpable.

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En tal caso, lo que debemos esclarecer ahora es cómo podemos continuar estudiando Torá y observar las mizvot con todas las fuerzas, y al mismo tiempo, que su Torá y mitzvot tomen forma de un camino de verdadera cercanía a Hashem palpable en su corazón. Es decir, debemos buscar el camino para que la persona se acerque a su Creador, de manera que las acciones que ha estado acostumbrado a hacer tomen un aspecto más profundo y realmente lo acerquen a su Creador.

Todo esto está incluido en el comentario del Mesilat Yesharim que existen dos tipos de auto análisis necesarios: investigar y escudriñar. Hay comportamientos que deben detenerse, pero también debemos escudriñar las acciones que deben continuarse, de manera de realizarlas de modo más significativo y verdadero.

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Resumiremos las ideas que hemos escrito hasta este punto. Primero establecimos que el propósito del hombre en este mundo es dvekut al Creador. ¿Qué es este dvekut? Sentir a Hashem en el corazón, palparlo a Él (como será pronto explicado detalladamente). ¿Con qué frecuencia debemos estar cerca del Creador? Cada día y cada hora del día (excepto el tiempo que esté inmerso en el estudio de la Torá, según está escrito en el Nefesh HaJaim, que también aclararemos). La persona debe sentir que así como no puede desprenderse del aire para respirar, porque sin éste moriría, jas veshalom, entonces también, la persona debe esforzarse para sentir que toda su vida es la cercanía a Hashem. De lo contrario, es como si estuviera muerto.

También escribimos que debemos esclarecer por qué la Torá, con la cual estamos muy involucrados, y las muchas mitzvot que cumplimos, no producen en nuestros corazones el simple sentimiento de cercanía y dvekut a Hashem. ¿Qué falta en nuestro estudio de Torá y el cumplimiento de las mitzvot que les impiden producir dentro de nuestro ser una palpable cercanía a Hashem?

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Comenzaremos a esclarecer extensamente el concepto de cercanía a Hashem.

¿Quién es el Creador? ¿Alguien Lo ha visto alguna vez? El pasuk establece claramente: “¡Ninguna persona que Me vea queda vivo!” (Shemot 33:20) Aún con respecto a Su Gloria, que Moshé Rabenu pidió ver (v. 18 – “Muéstrame ahora Tu Gloria”) Hashem le dijo (v. 23), “Puedes ver Mi ‘espalda’, pero Mi ‘rostro’ no será visto”. Hashem El mismo, sin duda, no podrá ser nunca visto. Esto es claro y obvio.

Cuando hablamos de cercanía al Creador, como dice el pasuk: “Y para mí, la cercanía a Hashem me es buena”, ¿a qué nos referimos? ¿Cuál es el significado y el concepto de cercanía al Creador? Se sabe que nuestros Sabios dijeron: “No existe un lugar donde Él no esté”. (Tikunei Zohar 91b) En otras palabras, Hashem se encuentra literalmente en todas partes. De ser así, – si intentáramos entender el concepto de cercanía al Creador en un sentido físico de la misma manera que una mesa podría estar cerca de una silla, entonces todos nosotros estaríamos cerca del Creador, porque dondequiera que estemos, el Creador también está presente. En tal caso, todos estamos siempre cerca del Creador. Entonces, ¿por qué necesitamos esforzarnos toda la vida para lograr estar cerca de Hashem? Después de todo, inmediatamente después que nacemos, estamos cerca del Creador. Entonces, ¿cuál es su trabajo en la vida?

Obviamente, este no es el significado de cercanía a Hashem. Cuando me siento cerca de una mesa, estoy cerca de la mesa. Cuando me siento en una silla, estoy cerca de la silla. Pero no es este el tipo de cercanía al Creador que buscamos.

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La cercanía al Creador es un concepto totalmente diferente. Si nos hemos esclarecido el principio demostrado antes, que todo el propósito de nuestra vida es estar cerca y apegado al Creador, debemos esclarecer que concepto es éste. ¿Qué tipo de cercanía es ésta? Mientras no se haya esclarecido la naturaleza de la cercanía a Hashem y no sepamos a qué tipo de cercanía se refiere, ¿cómo puede saber la manera de encontrar esta cercanía? Si el objetivo de cercanía a Hashem no está claro, por supuesto que tampoco está claro la manera de lograrla. Deberíamos estar gustosos de pagar millones, toda nuestra fortuna, con tal de aclarar este asunto. Si la cercanía a Hashem no está clara, nunca podrá ver cuál es su propósito en la vida, y no tendrá claro que beneficio tendrá para él todos los días de su vida. Entonces, ¿para qué debería vivir si no entiende la vida y su propósito, y el trabajo de toda su vida? Sin conocer el concepto de cercanía a Hashem, ¿puede adquirir la cercanía a Hashem? ¿Se logra automáticamente, sin necesidad de conocer su esencia y la manera de lograrlo?

Después de que la persona se ha esclarecido que el propósito de la vida es la cercanía a Hashem, lo primero que tiene que hacer es aclarar qué significa eso exactamente. Sólo después de que la persona sabe claramente donde exactamente necesita llegar, debe trabajar para descubrir cómo llegar allí. Suministraremos un ejemplo: Una persona viaja de Yerushalayim a Bnei Berak, Si no comprende que quiere llegar a Bnei Berak, ¿cómo sabrá que carretera tomar? ¡No tiene sentido de que trate de averiguar la carretera, porque quizás no quiere llegar a Bnei Berak, sino a Tzfat! Y en tal caso, su trabajo es averiguar cuál es el camino hacia Tzfat. Si es así, la persona primero debe esclarecer dónde necesita ir, y luego su trabajo es averiguar la carretera que lo conduzca a su destino deseado.

Supongamos que es imposible esclarecer el concepto de cercanía a Hashem, entonces ¿Hashem espera que la persona haga algo que no puede hacer? Sin duda, es comprensible para cualquiera, y nuestra tarea es esclarecer el concepto de cercanía a Hashem.

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Si una persona aún no ha logrado un conocimiento claro de lo que es la verdadera cercanía a Hashem, esta falta de conocimiento no es ignorancia sobre un detalle en determinada área, sino ignorancia sobre toda la esencia de la vida. El propósito de la vida en este mundo, y todas las acciones del hombre en este mundo, bien sea estudio de Torá, mitzvot, o asuntos terrenales, son únicamente para permitirnos apegarnos al Creador. Si no sabe que significa apegarse a Hashem, no tiene un entendimiento claro del propósito de su vida, ni un claro conocimiento de la esencia y el propósito interno de todos sus actos. Puede que estudie Torá y cumpla mitzvot, pero no sabrá dirigir a dónde deben conducirlo estos actos.

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Daremos un ejemplo: Un hombre necesita una casa. Durante un período de veinte años aproximadamente, ahorra determinada cantidad cada mes, hasta que al final del período, tiene suficiente dinero para comprar una casa. Con el dinero en mano el hombre sale dispuesto a comprar su casa, sin embargo, no sabe donde venden casas. Se sienta y piensa, pero no puede resolver a dónde dirigirse para comprar una casa. Consulta con amigos, y ellos lo envían a la gente dedicada a este asunto. Ignora sus consejos, y en cambio, se sienta y trata de resolver solo el problema y descubrir los lugares donde podrían venderse casas. Luego va de un lugar a otro sin conseguir nada. Este hombre tiene el dinero necesario para la casa, pero no puede comprarla porque no sabe dónde comprarla.

Esto es análogo a uno que cumple mitzvot y estudia Torá. Posee la Torá y las mitzvot pero no sabe como utilizarlos para lograr el estado de “construiré un santuario en mi corazón”. Necesita tener un “hogar” en su alma para albergar la luz de Hashem, de manera que Hashem resida en su corazón.

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El yetzer hará le permite a la persona estudiar Torá y observar las mitzvot, pero oculta de él un punto simple: cual es propósito de ello. Ni siquiera le permite pensar sobre el propósito. Por el contrario, mantiene al individuo en un estado de hábito, en el cual estudia Torá y hace mitzvot sin pensar en absoluto en su propósito. Ese es el poder del yetzer hará. Le da a la persona todo menos lo principal. Y el propósito de todo se pierde, jas ve shalom y aún cuando permite a la persona pensar sobre el hecho de que el propósito es la cercanía a Hashem, le oculta la naturaleza de la cercanía a Hashem. O bien, le muestra el acercamiento a Hashem de muchas formas y definiciones diferentes, de tal modo que lo mantiene lejos del verdadero entendimiento. También podría convencer a la persona que la cercanía a Hashem sólo puede lograrse en el Gan Edén y el Olam HaBa (el Mundo Venidero), pero en este mundo, está más allá de nuestra comprensión. Fija en nuestra mente que no es necesario entender la cercanía a Hashem, y que llegará automáticamente a cualquiera que se esfuerza en Torá y cumple las mitzvot. Entonces, nos imaginamos que cuando se va de este mundo y asciende al cielo, inmediatamente sentirá una gran y maravillosa cercanía a Hashem, dependiendo de su nivel, pero piensa que este no es un asunto para tratar en este mundo. El yetzer hará convence al hombre de que no hay motivo para preocuparse con asuntos ocultos de “los acontecimientos en el Cielo”, y que esto equivale a querer conocer el futuro y lo místico. Le dice a la persona que en lugar de curiosear y tratar de ver el futuro oculto, mejor debería utilizar su tiempo sirviendo al Creador con Torá y mitzvot de manera simple, y no meter su cabeza dentro de la naturaleza de la cercanía a Hashem.

Tanto ésta como muchas otras ideas son los argumentos del yetzer hará. Son innumerables, pero tienen como común denominador mantenernos alejados del deseo y la voluntad de entender qué es la cercanía a Hashem, y de lograr en nuestros corazones un sentimiento palpable de ello. ¡Que Hashem nos ayude a ignorar las sugerencias del yetzer hará, y a dedicarnos a esclarecer totalmente la naturaleza de la verdadera cercanía a Hashem y la manera de lograrlo!

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Ahora trataremos de describir en palabras simples la esencia de la cercanía al Creador. ¿Qué cercanía es ésta de la cual David HaMelej dijo; “Y para mí, la cercanía a Hashem me es buena”?

La primera pregunta qué debemos formular es: “¿Dónde está Hashem?” Cuando deseo acercarme a alguien, primero debo identificar su paradero. Cuando no conozco su ubicación, como puedo ir allí, quedarme junto a él y estar cerca de él”. Asimismo, cuando la persona busca y desea estar cerca de Hashem, antes debe esclarecer dónde Se encuentra. Si la persona no sabe dónde se encuentra Él, ¿como puede acercarse a Él?

Nuestros Sabios han establecido claramente: “No existe un lugar donde Él no esté” (Tikunei Zohar 122b), es decir, está presente en todas partes, como dice: “Tú eres Uno antes de la creación, y Tú eres Uno después de la creación”. Igual como antes de la creación, Hashem estaba en todas partes, entonces también, aún después de la creación, aunque existe un mundo y seres creados, Hashem está literalmente en todas partes, y nada le impide estar en todas partes. Para acercarse a Él, no hay necesidad de salir del país o de la ciudad, ni siquiera de viajar dentro de la ciudad. “Porque el asunto está muy cerca de ti” (Devarim 30:14) ¡Hashem está en todas partes! Por lo tanto, la persona puede encontrarlo y estar cerca de Él en cualquier lugar.

Si uno contempla este asunto, podría hacer una simple pregunta sobre David HaMelej, quien dijo: “Y para mí, la cercanía a Hashem me es buena”. ¿Por qué utilizó la palabra “cercanía”? Después de todo, si Hashem se encuentra en todas partes, Él está presente dondequiera que se encuentre la persona, hasta donde está parado su cuerpo. ¡No sólo está cerca del hombre, sino que está en el mismo idéntico punto! El término “cercanía” es pertinente cuando una cosa está al lado de otra, pero si están realmente juntas en el mismo punto, no es realmente apropiado utilizar el término “cercanía”.

Sin embargo, lo cierto es que tales preguntas provienen de intentos de definir intelectualmente dónde está presente Hashem. Así, uno descubre que el término “cercanía” no expresa la cercanía entre Hashem y el hombre desde una perspectiva espacial. Pero puesto que la cercanía a Hashem y dvekut a Él no se refieren a espacio físico, la pregunta sobre las palabras de David HaMelej es irrelevante. La idea será explicada a medida que avancemos, pero la pregunta en sí debería motivar a la persona a esclarecer la verdadera naturaleza de la cercanía a Hashem. Solamente después que lo entienda claramente, y su alma comprende claramente la esencia de la cercanía a Hashem, será posible concebir y comprender la diferencia entre “cercanía” a Hashem y “unidad” con Hashem. Que Hashem nos conceda el privilegio de comprender en forma clara y completa estos conceptos.

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Basados en lo anterior, hemos esclarecido que “cercanía a Hashem” no está relacionada a espacio, sino que es un tipo de cercanía más profundo. Pensemos primero sobre el concepto de cercanía en este mundo, y de allí continuar hasta comprender más profundamente que es cercanía a Hashem en el mundo espiritual.

Comencemos con un ejemplo. Un hombre está sentado en su casa y habla por teléfono, durante su conversación entra un amigo a la casa. El anfitrión le indica a su huésped que debe esperar un poco hasta que termine la conversación telefónica. Después que él terminó de hablar, él se disculpa por la demora, explicándole que él estaba hablando con un karov (persona cercana a él). El huésped se interesa y pregunta: “¿Quién es el karov? ¡Dónde vive?” El anfitrión le suministra el nombre completo, y agrega que vive fuera del país. El huésped entonces duda y pregunta: “Si vive fuera del país, ¿cómo pudiste llamarlo un karov?” El anfitrión responde: “No quise decir que es un karov desde una perspectiva de espacio, sino que es mi karov, mi primo”. En el mundo físico existen dos tipos de cercanías: cercanía espacial y cercanía familiar, como con el padre, hijo, tío, primo, y así consecutivamente. La cercanía familiar de un primo no está absolutamente relacionada con espacio. Más bien, puesto que dos personas están emparentadas, tienen una profunda cercanía basada en sus raíces, lo cual los une emocionalmente. En otras palabras, aquí la cercanía es más profunda que la cercanía espacial, porque es una relación basada en una raíz común. Puesto que ambos comparten la misma raíz, existe una profunda cercanía emocional.

En consecuencia, existen dos tipos de cercanía, la primera es espacial y la segunda interna, conduciendo a un vínculo emocional.

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Ahora que hemos esclarecido que en este mundo existen dos tipos de cercanías: una espacial y otra familiar – que generan relación y vínculo emocional, ahora debemos continuar y meditar si los dos tipos de cercanía dependen una de la otra. Claramente, vemos que la cercanía espacial no garantiza cercanía familiar, y cercanía familiar no garantiza cercanía espacial.

En otras palabras, podríamos estar parados al lado de otra persona y estar junto a él sin ningún tipo de vínculo emocional. De hecho, la cercanía espacial podría causar distanciamiento emocional, debido a las diferentes opiniones que surgen que causan rivalidad entre ambas. Lo mismo es cierto en el escenario opuesto. La cercanía familiar que produce un vínculo emocional, o la cercanía emocional en sí, no necesariamente viene con cercanía espacial. Algunas veces, la gente más cercana a una persona, como su padre, hijo, o mejor amigo, están espacialmente muy lejos, y sin embargo eso no genera conflicto con su cercanía emocional de ninguna manera. En consecuencia, la cercanía espacial no garantiza cercanía familiar, y la cercanía familiar no garantiza cercanía espacial.

Ahora, hay una diferencia entre las dos. Cuando decimos que dos personas están espacialmente cercanas, es una condición que está presente en ese mismo momento. Sin embargo, con la cercanía emocional, aun cuando hay cercanía en sus almas, ello podría no ser evidente cada momento. Uno ama a su pariente o amigo, y está muy apegado a él, pero este amor no siempre está en el primer plano del alma. En determinados momentos, se coloca al frente, como en tiempos de celebración, o jas veshalom, lo contrario. En dichas ocasiones, participa y se involucra totalmente con aquellos cercanos a él.

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Ahora, que hemos esclarecido la esencia de la cercanía en este mundo, debemos regresar a explorar la cercanía a Hashem. ¿Existe una similitud entre esa y los tipos de cercanía que conocemos en este mundo?

En lo que respecta a la cercanía espacial, ya se ha mencionado que nada está tan cerca de la persona que Hashem, siendo que “No existe un lugar donde Él no esté”. Siendo así, Hashem y la persona están realmente constantemente juntos, sin separarse en absoluto. No existe nada más en este mundo a lo cual una persona siempre esté cerca. Y aún cuando siempre está cerca de ello, no están realmente en el mismo lugar. Pero con Hashem, Él y la persona están siempre cerca uno del otro, y el grado de cercanía espacial es único, siendo el grado más elevado de ello en este mundo. Con respecto a la cercanía familiar o amistad, hay un pasuk que dice explícitamente: “Ustedes son hijos de Hashem, vuestro Dios”. (Devarim 14:1) Y éste también dice de Hashem: “No abandones a tu Amigo y al Amigo de tu padre”. (Mishlei 27:10) Por tanto, somos, tanto hijos de Hashem y sus amigos, como dice “tu Amigo”.

Por consiguiente, la persona ya está cerca de Hashem desde una perspectiva espacial (“No existe un lugar donde Él no esté”), desde la perspectiva familiar (“Ustedes son hijos de Hashem”), y desde la perspectiva de amistad (“No abandones a tu Amigo y el Amigo de tu padre”).

Entonces, ¿Qué está faltando en la cercanía a Hashem? ¡Lo que falta es lo más importante! En este mundo, cuando alguien está cerca de algo, puede ver y sentir que está cerca de ello. Si estamos emparentados a alguien en virtud de ser su padre, hijo, tío, o primo, él siente la cercanía. Si tenemos un amigo querido, lo siente: el alma lo siente claramente. La gran pregunta sobre los diferentes tipos de cercanía con Hashem que tenemos – espacio, familia, y amistad – es: ¿Sentimos que Hashem está cerca de nosotros a través de todas estas maneras? Cuando decimos que: “No existe un lugar donde Él no esté”, simplemente conocemos este hecho, ¿o realmente sentimos que Hashem está con nosotros en todas partes? Si lo sintiéramos, sería constante, puesto que Él está constantemente con nosotros. En cuanto a cercanía familiar, ¿simplemente sabemos intelectualmente que nosotros somos Sus hijos, o lo sentimos claramente en nuestros corazones, con un amor arraigado y fijo como el del hijo hacia su padre? En cuanto a la cercanía de la amistad, como dice: “tu Amigo” refiriéndose a Hashem, ¿Sabemos que somos Sus amigos íntimos? ¿Es la amistad un sentimiento consciente?

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Resulta que estamos cerca de Hashem en todo tipo de manera, pero tan sólo lo sabemos mentalmente. El problema entre la mayoría de las personas es que esto es tan sólo información, pero el claro sentimiento de cercanía, el sentimiento de que Hashem está siempre cerca y dentro de nosotros, el sentimiento de que nosotros realmente somos Sus hijos, el sentimiento de que somos Sus amigos; es algo que carecemos. Estamos cerca, pero no lo sentimos. Cuando estamos físicamente cerca de algo, lo sentimos, pero cuando la cercanía es espiritual, puede que sepamos de ella, pero no siempre la sentimos.

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Para enfatizar mejor esta idea, meditemos y veamos como aún en este mundo físico, no se puede sentir todo tipo de cercanía. Daremos ejemplos, tanto de la cercanía espacial como de la cercanía familiar, demostrando como la persona podría no estar enterada de esta cercanía.

Antes de que el microscopio fuese inventado, si nos hubiésemos acercado a una persona y preguntamos si hay gérmenes cerca de él, apenas a unos pocos centímetros de distancia, lo habría negado categóricamente, y estaría dispuesto a jurar a ese efecto sin ningún sentimiento de culpa. Ciertamente, él está equivocado, y hay gérmenes muy cerca de él, pero como no pueden ser vistos por el ojo, y podemos ver y ver y no encontrarlos, él está seguro que ellos no existen. Pero en realidad, este es un error definitivo. Vemos que podemos estar espacialmente cerca de algo y aún así estar totalmente ignorantes de ello.

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Suministraremos un ejemplo relacionado con cercanía familiar. Muchas personas llegaron a Israel después del Holocausto casi sin familiares. La soledad de no tener familia los angustiaba terriblemente. Hubo quienes intentaron encontrar algún pariente. Imaginemos que una persona vive en un edificio con un vecino encima de él, y para decir lo mínimo, no existe ningún vínculo de amistad entre ellos. Sin embargo, cada uno busca un pariente durante años. Después de veinte años, accidentalmente descubren que son primos, y que no tienen más parientes, ni en el país, ni en el mundo. Por tanto, una persona podría estar justamente al lado de su único pariente, alguien que conoce bien y vive cerca, pero puesto que no sabe que están emparentados, carece de cercanía emocional hacia él.

Ahora tenemos dos ilustraciones claras de cercanía espacial y familiar, en la cual la persona puede estar muy cerca a alguien, pero sin embargo estar lejos, porque no sabe de la cercanía.

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Lo mismo es cierto con las distintas maneras en que la persona está cerca de Hashem. Mencionamos que estamos espacialmente cerca de Hashem, pero como no puede ver a Hashem cerca, como dice: “Ninguna persona puede verme y quedar vivo”, (Shemot 33:20), no siente esa cercanía. Sabe que Hashem es su Padre, pero no lo siente como tal en su corazón. Sabe que Hashem es su Amigo, pero no lo siente apropiadamente en su corazón. Si alguien fuese informado de que su padre, quien él suponía hace tiempo muerto, estuviese aún vivo, y pudiese verlo, todo su corazón se llenaría de alegría, siendo que él ahora podría ver y relacionarse a su padre. Su pensamiento original, que ya no se relacionaría a su padre, se convertiría en una completa equivocación.

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Cualquiera que no se haya esforzado mucho en conocer a Hashem, su verdadero Padre, no conoce a su Padre. Podría saber que existe, pero no lo conoce. Esto es como alguien que sabe que su padre está fuera del país, pero nunca lo ha visto. Aquí también, una persona que no se ha esforzado mucho en reconocer a su Creador, no mediante análisis, sino mediante el corazón, podría saber que tiene un Padre, pero no conoce de él ni lo mas mínimo. Quien verdaderamente se ha esforzado y tuvo el mérito de conocer a su Creador, su Padre en el Cielo, comprende que antes, no sólo no se había dado cuenta que Hashem estaba a su lado, sino que ni siquiera entendía el significado de tener un Padre en el Cielo. No tenía la herramienta con la cual entender lo qué es Hashem, lo que expresan las palabras: “Ustedes son hijos de Hashem, vuestro Dios” (Devarim 14:1), y lo que involucra el término “hijo de Hashem”. Esto no es conocimiento intelectual, sino una percepción del alma. Ni siquiera el ejemplo de la relación padre-hijo puede retratar la profundidad de lo que significa ser un hijo de Hashem, está por encima del pensamiento humano y las definiciones racionales, es el reconocimiento del alma de su Padre. Debemos entender que cuando la Torá dice: “Ustedes son hijos de Hashem, vuestro Dios”, si la persona lo toma literalmente, pensando: “Igual como yo tengo un padre físico, tengo un padre espiritual” (y Hashem debería dar a todos el privilegio de por lo menos sentir eso) solamente está entendiendo un punto superficial, no la profundidad del asunto. La profundidad de este concepto sólo puede entenderse cuando uno lo siente en su alma, no cuando la gente trata de describirlo con todo tipo de definiciones.

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Ahora debemos reflexionar sobre un encuentro entre padre e hijo mencionado en la Torá, específicamente, el de Yaacov y Yosef. Cuando se encontraron, dice: “Yosef ató los caballos a su carruaje y fue al encuentro de su padre en Goshen, y se presentó ante él, y se echó sobre su cuello y lloró profusamente sobre su cuello”. (Bereshit 46:29) Pensemos, ¿cuánto tiempo Yosef mantuvo esta posición de “se echó sobre su cuello”? Jazal dicen que Yaacov no se echó sobre el cuello de Yosef, ni lo besó, porque se encontraba recitando el Shemá (ver Rashi allí). ¿Cuánto tiempo estuvo Yaacov recitando el Shemá? Media hora, una hora, quizás más tiempo. Pero después de ese encuentro, aunque Yaacov estaba muy unido a Yosef y Yosef a Yaacov, ya no existía el tipo de vínculo descrito como “se echó sobre su cuello”. La más fuerte expresión de su unión fue cortamente vivida.

Si queremos un ejemplo de la naturaleza del apego de un hijo a su Padre en el Cielo, debemos aprender de este ejemplo. Sin embargo, en este caso, el hijo puede estar en un estado de “y se echó sobre su cuello” en todo momento. En otras palabras, él puede lograr la condición en la cual él está siempre pegado y atado a Hashem (existen, por supuesto, reveces, pero esta podría ser su condición general de vida). Uno no puede asir a su padre físico y echarse sobre su cuello en forma permanente, pero uno puede estar atado con Hashem, su Padre en el Cielo, literalmente en todo momento. Cuando uno logra: “Y yo residiré entre ellos” (Shemot 25:8), es decir, que Hashem abiertamente reside en su corazón, está unido a Hashem siempre, en forma análoga al encuentro de Yosef y Yaakov, y aún más. Esta es la unión interna del alma con Hashem. Esta es la forma de vida de un judío que vive en verdadera espiritualidad.

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Imaginemos que mientras Yosef estaba reunido con su padre, su teléfono celular hubiese repicado. ¿Lo hubiese respondido, o nada le habría interesado en ese momento? Yosef estaba en Egipto, una tierra extraña, completamente solo durante muchos años, y finalmente, llega el momento cuando se libra de esa soledad y se encuentra con su padre. En ese momento, ¿habría tenido tiempo para hacer otras cosas? Igualmente, un verdadero judío vive en un estado de estar literalmente apegado siempre al Creador. Inevitablemente, vivimos en un mundo material, y debemos ocuparnos de el al menos un poco, pero su alma siempre está atada al Creador, bien sea que se dedique a ocupaciones materiales o espirituales, su alma nunca se despegará del Creador. Aun cuando conteste su teléfono celular, está unido al Creador, y nunca está distraído, ni desconectado interiormente de Él. Esta es la manera como debe vivir un judío. Este es el único y verdadero vínculo que tiene la persona en el mundo. Algún día, dejará su familia y permanecerá solo. El único vínculo que podemos mantener, tanto en este mundo como en el venidero, que nunca se romperá, es con Hashem. En el Gan Eden, no hay garantía de que estaremos sentados cerca de nuestro padre, hijo, o tío, sino cerca de Hashem. Este es un vínculo que uno debe desarrollar para sí para este mundo y el venidero. El vínculo familiar es un vínculo, pero algún día se romperá. Sin embargo, el vínculo con Hashem es eterno, y nunca se romperá. Si uno desea un verdadero amigo, debe tomar a Hashem como su amigo, y será su Amigo en todas partes –en este mundo, en el Gan Eden y en el Mundo Venidero, que nunca lo abandonará, ni siquiera por un momento.

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Mientras una persona no esté verdaderamente apegada a Hashem, de manera similar al vínculo familiar descrito anteriormente, tampoco podrá sentir la cercanía espacial debidamente. Hashem está de hecho, espacialmente cerca de la persona. Pero todo tiempo que la persona esta atada a Hashem más y más en lo profundo de su corazón, podrá realmente sentir interiormente que Hashem está justo a su lado siempre, en cada momento y en todo lugar. Mientras mayor sea la cercanía con Hashem, y más la persona esté atada a El desde las fibras más profundas de su corazón, más sentirá que Hashem está a su lado. Lo contrario es cierto también, jas veshalom.

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Ahora que está claro qué propósito tiene la vida, es decir, cercanía a Hashem, y cómo debe verse la vida de una persona apegada a Hashem (más o menos) – que dvekut no es un detalle menor de la vida, sino que toda su vida es un proceso de apegarse a Hashem – debe ahora decidir si quiere vivir de esa manera, o quizás es más fácil seguir viviendo en una ilusión, en la cual piensa que tiene una vida pacífica sin el problema de dvekut. Cada persona debe decidir individualmente si realmente desea permanecer apegada a Hashem toda su vida. Si ha verificado que sí quiere, es afortunado. Si aún ve que no lo quiere, debe rezar a Hashem para que lo ayude a querer la verdadera vida, de manera que pueda dejar la vida sin limites que le parece que es la vida, y elegir vivir verdadera vida, de lo cual dice: “Y ustedes, quienes están apegados a Hashem, vuestro Dios, están todos vivos hoy”. (Nosotros todavía no discutimos el camino para estar cerca y apegado a Hashem, sino el deseo de estarlo).

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Tratemos de inspirar al lector a querer estar cerca y apegado a Hashem.

Cada uno de nosotros sabe que llegará el día nos vayamos de este mundo, como dice: “El fin del hombre es la muerte” (Berajot 17ª). Todos después de la muerte queremos librarnos del Gehinom y merecer el Gan Eden. ¿Qué hace la persona en el Gan Eden? El Ramjal escribe al comienzo de Mesilat Yesharim: “El hombre fue creado únicamente para deleitarse en Hashem y disfrutar el resplandor de la Shejiná”. Este es el principal deleite en el Gan Eden. Por consiguiente, si no nos apegamos verdaderamente a Hashem, no tendremos mucho que hacer en el Gan Eden. Gan Eden en realidad significa dvekut a Hashem. Si, jas veshalom, una persona no quiere apegarse a Hashem, ¿qué hará en el Gan Eden? Si dice que en este mundo, él quiere beneficiarse de este mundo, pero cuando deje este mundo, va a querer apegarse a Hashem, debemos saber que este pensamiento es insensato. Los sefarim hakedoshim ya han escrito que la condición de los pensamientos y sentimientos de la persona en este mundo es la manera como serán en el mundo venidero. Por lo tanto, si en este mundo, la mente y el corazón de la persona no están apegados a Hashem, sino a otros asuntos, igual será en el mundo venidero. Aunque quiera apegarse al Creador allí, no podrá hacerlo, porque estará obligado a apegarse a aquello que estuvo apegado en este mundo.
En otras palabras, la persona no puede dividir entre no estar apegado a Hashem en este mundo, y apegado a él en el mundo venidero. Mejor dicho, o estará apegado, tanto en este mundo como en el venidero, o no lo estará en ninguno de los dos, jas veshalom. (Indudablemente que la persona que no hizo lo debido para rectificar su vida tiene otra oportunidad, pero no corresponde aquí explicar ese tema). En consecuencia, debemos entender que si la persona no está apegada al Creador en este mundo, tampoco lo estará en el Gan Eden, ni en el Mundo Venidero, ni tampoco tendrá nada que hacer allí. Debemos meditar bastante sobre el hecho de que perderemos la eternidad por no lograr dvekut a Hashem en este mundo. El Mundo Venidero es llamado “el mundo que es completamente bueno”. ¿A qué se refiere esta bondad? El Ramjal escribe: “Y para mí, la cercanía a Hashem me es buena, cualquier otra cosa que la gente considera buena es ilusión y vanidad”. Podrán ver que no existe ningún otro bien que la cercanía a Hashem, y si la persona no está cerca y apegada a Él, no está conectado con el mundo que es completamente bueno. Necesariamente, para merecer la bondad en el Gan Eden y en mundo venidero, es decir, “estar cerca de Hashem es bueno”, aún en este mundo debemos vivir con esta bondad, con dvekut a Hashem.

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Así como en este mundo, un negocio se cierra un día al año para hacer un inventario de que se vendió y que no, la persona debe hacer lo mismo consigo. Esto no es una introspección personal que toma quince minutos, media o una hora, sino un alto a todo el curso de nuestra vida para preguntarnos: “¿deseo, o no, estar cerca y apegado al Creador? En caso de desearlo, ¿ando por el camino que me hará merecer la palpable cercanía que busco? O, acaso, ¿el mío es sólo un camino de estudiar Torá intelectualmente y realizar las mitzvot con mínima inspiración, pero sin que éstas me acerquen a Hashem de verdad? Debemos salir con conciencia clara que queremos lograr la verdadera cercanía a Hashem. La persona debe tomarse todo el tiempo necesario para lograr dicha claridad, pero eventualmente, debe estar consciente de que únicamente la cercanía y dvekut a Hashem representan la esencia de la vida. Debe anhelar vivir esta verdad. Luego, deberá elegir un camino determinado que lo conduzca allí. Pero nuevamente, antes que nada, debe quedar claro que el verdadero propósito de la vida es – cercanía y dvekut a Hashem.

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Después de haber esclarecido en sumo grado que todo el propósito de la vida es la verdadera cercanía a Hashem, y la persona siente un deseo real de vivir en conformidad, con lo descrito es el momento apropiado para que entienda y reflexione sobre el camino que lo conducirá a ese estilo de vida. Podría pensar que puesto que está inmerso en la Torá y las mitzvot, seguramente llegará el día en que de repente sienta la cercanía de Hashem en su corazón. Sin embargo, muchos tropezaron por esta equivocación, pensando que la cercanía a Hashem simplemente llega al corazón de cualquiera que estudie Torá y observe las mitzvot, lo cual es totalmente incierto.

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Jazal dijeron: “Hasta el más vacío de ellos está lleno de mitzvot como una granada” (Berajot 57a) La pregunta es: “Entonces, ¿por qué dicen que están “vacíos”? ¡Después de todo, no están vacíos si sus mitzvot son tan numerosas como las semillas de una granada! La respuesta del Gaon HaRav David Povarsky zt”l fue excelente. Dijo que puede que tengamos a nuestro favor muchas mitzvot, Torá, Jesed (actos de benevolencia), y muchos otros. Sin embargo, seguirá definiéndose como una persona vacía. ¿Por qué? Porque una granada tiene muchas semillas, pero cada una está separada de la otra, es como una manzana, o una pera, donde toda la fruta es una unidad, sino por el contrario, cada semilla está sola. Lo mismo sucede con las mitzvot que realizamos. Una persona puede estudiar Torá y realizar muchas mitzvot, pero seguirá estando vacía, puesto que cada una está separada de la otra, sin una verdadera unión entre ellas.

La Torá y las mitzvot deben constituir una unidad, todas formando parte del proceso de construcción de una estructura. No deben estar separadas una de la otra, jas veshalom. Puede ser que determinada persona estudie Torá toda su vida y cumpla muchas mitzvot, pero aún así estar entre “los vacíos”. No habrá adquirido el elemento interior que unifique toda su Torá y mitzvot. ¿Qué es ese elemento interno que unifica? ¡Dvekut a Hashem! La Torá debe ser estudiada en el espíritu del versículo: “Hashem, la Torá e Israel son uno” (Zohar 3:73). A través de la Torá nos apegamos a nuestro Creador.

Similarmente, la palabra mitzvá tiene su raíz en la palabra tzavtá (conexión), refiriéndose a la unión con Hashem, como se sabe. En consecuencia, tanto la Torá como la mitzvot tienen un objetivo interno, que es cercanía y dvekut a Hashem. Cuando trabajamos en el logro de dicho objetivo único, toda la Torá estudiada y las mitzvot realizadas se entrelazan, llevando a la persona a un fin común. Pero si la Torá y las mitzvot no acercan a la persona a Hashem, por cuanto que no hay nada que las una, existiendo una separación entre ellas. Cuando el Creador no está en nuestro corazón, y no se cumple en éste el versículo: “Yo moraré entre ellos”, dentro del corazón del hombre falta el elemento unificador. Puede que la Torá y las mitzvot estén allí, pero no existe la “unidad” de un corazón consagrado a nuestro Padre en el Cielo. No está apegado a Hashem en lo profundo del corazón.

Cada persona debe realizar un auto-análisis y revisar: “¿Mi estilo de vida, mi Torá, oraciones y mitzvot, están encaminadas a llevarme a un verdadero y palpable dvekut a Hashem, o quizás son mis actos, jas ve shalom, como “el más vacío de ellos”, faltándoles el elemento interno focal que unifique la Torá y las mitzvot?”

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Este punto requiere gran atención. Muchos confían en que su camino es el verdadero, y que con el transcurrir de los años, merecerán la cercanía a Hashem. Sin embargo esto no es necesariamente cierto. Este razonamiento podría servir de excusa para evitar trabajar de verdad y con mayor esfuerzo. Nos resulta fácil creer que estamos en el correcto que nos conducirá a una palpable cercanía a Hashem. ¿Pero qué hará la persona cuando al final de su vida, descubra que su camino no era correcto y que no logró una palpable cercanía a Hashem? Eso será demasiado tarde y no podrá dar vuelta al timón y tratar de vivir nuevamente de manera diferente. Indudablemente, es difícil comprobarle a alguien que su camino no necesariamente lo conducirá a una palpable cercanía a Hashem. (Por supuesto, existen muchos caminos válidos, pero aquí nos referimos a aquellos que se han equivocado siguiendo el camino incorrecto).

Por lo tanto, cada persona debe examinarse bien a si mismo y con mucha desconfianza, no sea que su camino no sea el verdadero. No puede confiar en el hecho que muchos otros han tenido éxito haciendo lo mismo, puesto que cada caso debe ser estudiado individualmente con el asesoramiento de una persona sumamente entendida. No podemos confiarnos en ideas casuales escuchadas en un lugar, u otro. Cada persona debe examinar su camino muy cuidadosamente, suplicando mucho a Hashem que Lo ayude a encontrar la verdad, y que encuentre el camino verdadero que lo acerque a Él. Aun cuando andemos por el camino verdadero, debemos rezar para tener el mérito de entenderlo debidamente, porque muchas veces la persona se encuentra en el camino verdadero, solo que la persona no lo entiende correctamente. Por último, cada persona debe elegir un camino determinado y claro que lo conduzca a dvekut a Hashem, pidiéndole insistentemente que lo ayude a encontrar el camino más apropiado para él.


2- Fe en la existencia de un Creador

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Después de esclarecer que la obligación y propósito de la persona en este mundo es estar cerca y apegado a Hashem, y que ésta debe ser su única aspiración en la vida, tratemos ahora de describir como debe vivir la persona para lograr la cercanía y dvekut a Hashem.

Presentaremos ideas simples, que el lector podría suponer que las conoce. Sin embargo, quien entiende sobre trabajo personal sabe que toda la función del hombre es trabajar en los aspectos simples y conocidos, como dice el Ramjal al comienzo de la obra Mesilat Yesharim: “Mientras más recto sea, mejor” (Rosh Hashaná 26b). Durante todo el camino, debemos recordar que el punto, es que las cosas deben ser tomadas y realizadas con simpleza. Mientras más simplemente sean tomadas las cosas, más cerca estaremos de la verdad, o sea, de Hashem, pero si nos excedemos en cálculos y queremos pensar cada cosa dos veces; jas veshalom, nos alejaremos de la verdad, o sea, de Hashem. Debemos entender que el secreto de la vida interior es, la simpleza del alma, como dice el versículo: “D-s mío, el alma que Tú me has dado es pura”. Así como un niño aún inocente entiende cosas simples, igual sucede con el alma de la persona, el elemento puro dentro de él requiere ideas simples. Para despertar el punto de la verdad en el alma, el elemento puro, debemos utilizar el poder de la simpleza. Esta será la clave durante todo el camino que avanzaremos, con la ayuda de Hashem.

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¿Cuál es el punto por el cual debemos comenzar a trabajar? Tomar conciencia que hay un Creador, El claro y simple conocimiento de la existencia de un Creador del mundo. La gente piensa que este conocimiento sólo debe ser transmitido a personas que no conocen el judaísmo, y a quienes tenemos que enseñarles y demostrarles Su existencia por muchos y diferentes medios. Pero aquellos que se criaron en hogares donde son “observantes, e hijos de los observantes”, que cumplen muy bien la Torá y las mitzvot, y están siempre inmersos en ellas, ¿Que necesidad tenemos de informarles que hay un Creador? Acaso, ¿no saben ya esto? La persona que no ha examinado este punto de la existencia del Creador piensa que es simple y claro y no requiere de ningún esfuerzo. Ellos creen que nuestra avodá comienza en un nivel mucho más alto, pero están equivocados, y de hecho, cada persona debe trabajar sobre este simple punto, la más simple de las ideas – ¡que el mundo tiene un Creador!

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No obstante, la persona piensa constantemente: ¿Qué me falta en mi creencia de que hay un Creador del mundo? ¿Será que tengo que estudiar los secretos místicos y las opiniones de los filósofos?” ¡No, no es ésa nuestra intención! Nos referimos a una fe muy simple – fe de que el mundo tiene un Creador. Para entender por qué debemos trabajar esto, a continuación damos un ejemplo que lo iluminará y aclarará.

Una persona gana veinte millones de dólares en la lotería. Sus pensamientos están totalmente inmersos en su gran ganancia; mientras camina, duerme y se levanta. Piensa en ello mientras camina por la calle, y también cuando se acuesta a dormir, resultándole muy difícil dejar de pensar en su ganancia y lo qué hará con ella. En cambio, alguien que no ganó, sino que sólo escuchó el nombre del ganador, no piensa mucho en ello.

Reflexionemos sobre la diferencia entre los dos. Ambos saben con claridad quién fue el ganador. Sin embargo, mientras que los pensamientos del ganador están totalmente inmersos y apegados a ese conocimiento, los de la otra persona, no lo están. No ocupan totalmente sus pensamientos y su corazón.

Con este ejemplo, podemos captar y entender mejor el caso de la fe. Todos sabemos que existe un Creador, pero la pregunta es, ¿lo sabemos como el ganador de la lotería de nuestro ejemplo, o como el que no ganó? ¿El conocimiento de D-s está arraigado en su mente y corazón, o es algo que sabe, pero no está conectado siempre? Todos sabemos que existe un Creador, pero ¿con qué frecuencia pensamos en Él? ¿Hasta que punto estamos apegados a ese pensamiento? La creencia de que existe un Creador debe permanecer en nuestra mente y corazón literalmente siempre. Este no es tan sólo un conocimiento general que sirve de fundamento para la vida, sino que debe representar la fuerza vital de la persona cada instante del día.

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Dijimos antes que el objetivo y propósito de la persona debe ser estar cerca y apegado al Creador, y para estar cerca y apegados a algo, ese algo tiene que existir. Si el ente al cual la persona quiere estar cerca y apegada no existe, ¿cómo puede conectarse a éste? Para sentirnos cerca y conectados a Hashem, debemos sentir claramente que Él existe. Si la persona trata de acercarse a D-s antes de que su corazón lo sienta, fracasará, puesto que carece del conocimiento de Su existencia. En su corazón, intenta acercarse a algo cuya existencia no siente claramente. Por lo tanto, la persona debe comenzar su avodá sintiendo con todo su corazón que el mundo tiene un Creador, y sólo después, trabajar para acercarse a Él.

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Existen tres tipos de conocimiento: Jojmá (sabiduría), biná (entendimiento) y daat (conexión). Jojmá es conocer las cosas en su sentido literal; biná es entenderlas bien, y daat es estar relacionado a una materia, totalmente apegado. Está escrito: “Y con el daat serán llenadas las cámaras” (Mishlei 24:4). Es decir, las cámaras del corazón están llenas de dicho conocimiento, y estamos totalmente comprometidos en ello; éste es el daat completo. Algo que la persona conoce, pero que no abarca todo su corazón y pensamientos, es un daat parcial. El daat completo sólo existe cuando todas las fibras del alma y el corazón de la persona están constantemente conectadas al conocimiento.

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Tenemos que saber que respecto al conocimiento de la existencia del Creador, también existe el criterio de jojmá, biná y daat. Jojmá y biná es cuando se sabe que existe un Creador, y le es claro que no hay posibilidad de que no lo haya; pero el daat existe cuando este conocimiento está arraigado en su mente y corazón. No es suficiente la jojmá y biná para que el conocimiento de algo se aferre en el alma, para ello necesitamos daat. El alma tiene la fuerza de conocer en detalle las cosas, y esto ocurre cuando la persona está relacionada con algo y se apega a ello, en gran manera; está comprometido con ello.

Nuestros rabinos escribieron sobre este importante y poderoso principio. Que el alma de la persona que percibe a su Creador sólo con jojmá y biná, pero no piensa en Él constantemente, necesariamente en el interior de su alma carecerá en gran medida del conocimiento del Creador. Aunque puede conocerlo intelectualmente, su corazón y sentimientos no lo conocen debidamente. La regla es que quien quiere conocer verdaderamente al Creador, saber ciertamente que el mundo tiene un Creador, sus pensamientos deben estar fijos y apegados a Él, y sólo entonces podrá conocerlo en su alma.

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Tenemos entonces que quien busca la verdad, primero debe desarrollar una fe simple y clara, la fe simple de que el mundo tiene un Creador.

Al principio, debemos estar seguros intelectualmente que existe un Creador, es decir aclararse a sí mismo que cree que el mundo tiene un Creador como lo recibimos de nuestros padres y antepasados (pero no mediante análisis filosófico, prohibido por nuestros rabinos). Después de que la persona ha comprobado que cree terminantemente que existe un Creador del mundo, su avodá es vivir constantemente en todo momento con ese conocimiento.

Seguramente no podremos de un día para el otro comenzar a vivir con este conocimiento todo el tiempo. Antes debemos desear vivir recordando constantemente en nuestro corazón la existencia del Creador. En forma práctica, este objetivo se logra trabajando por etapas, como explicaremos más adelante. De este modo, con la ayuda de D-s, podremos vivir constantemente con el conocimiento del Creador en el corazón.

Antes de comenzar a trabajar en esto, la persona debe estar clara de que aquél cuyo corazón conoce constantemente al Creador es totalmente diferente a quien no vive de ese modo; no sólo es otro nivel, sino un tipo de vida completamente diferente. Está en otro mundo. Existe una vida con el Creador, y una vida (ilusión) sin Él, quien vive con el Creador parte de un mundo a otro totalmente distinto, lo cual no puede ser correctamente explicado por escrito. Pero cuando la persona merece alcanzar ese nivel, sentirá que es una creación totalmente nueva, similar a lo que dice el Rambam en Hiljot Teshuvá (7:6-7) “el arrepentido es otra persona completamente distinta”.

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Cuando vivimos constantemente pensando que existe un Creador: al levantarnos, al lavarnos las manos, al recitar birkat hamazon (bendición después de las comidas), antes de dormir, y durante todo el día – aun cuando no superemos ese nivel (que D-s nos permita elevarnos más), podemos cambiar toda nuestra vida, de un extremo a otro, permitiéndonos lograr una sinceridad interna, y un sentido más profundo de propósito, el cual a su vez producirá una estabilidad interna, que penetrará en toda nuestra constitución espiritual. ¡Ya no será la misma persona! Hasta los demás se darán cuenta que su alma ha sufrido cierta transformación interna.

La persona debe entender e internalizar la idea de que es fundamental para su vida tener a Hashem en su mente y corazón; esto está dirigido a todo judío, bien sea hombre o mujer, sin distinción alguna. De esta manera vivirá con el Creador, comerá con el Creador, se irá a dormir pensando en el Creador, es decir, toda su vida debe estar llena de pensamientos del Creador. Para lograr esto, no tenemos que ser genios, ni personas especialmente dotadas. Lo único que necesitamos es una pequeña medida de sinceridad en el corazón con la cual buscar la verdad y a Hashem, que es el propósito de la vida. Puesto que sabemos que el propósito de la vida es estar cerca y apegado al Creador, en lo primero que debemos enfocarnos es en la capacidad de recordar constantemente de que este mundo tiene un Creador.

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No existen palabras para expresar el valor del maravilloso tesoro que obtendremos si pensamos en el Creador. Todo el oro y la plata de este mundo no pueden pagar el valor de dicho conocimiento, que es un inigualable y maravilloso tesoro, mediante el cual podemos alcanzar la perfección, la cercanía a Hashem, y dvekut a Él. (Este pensamiento nos permitirá cumplir la Torá y las mitzvot debidamente). Si la persona conociera la grandeza de este tesoro, que es vivir con el pensamiento simple de que el mundo tiene un Creador, y pensar mucho en ello, lo perseguiría a toda costa. Renunciaría a los adornos y vanidades de este mundo, y se apegaría constantemente a esa idea (salvo cuando estudia Torá).

Pero la voluntad de Hashem es que antes de que la persona trabaje y adquiera dicho nivel, no pueda sentir cuan maravilloso es, y lo contenta que estará cuando lo adquiera su alma. La voluntad de Hashem es que la persona trabaje con fe, y sólo después sienta lo que dice el versículo: “Prueba y verás cuan bueno es Hashem” (Tehilim 34:9).

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Dice el Gaón de Vilna que cuando la persona se va al otro mundo y se da cuenta de lo que pudo haber logrado en éste, y no lo hizo, el alma sufre horriblemente. La diferencia entre el que llega al Gan Eden con el nivel de daat antes descrito y el que no lo ha logrado, es como la diferencia entre el cielo y la tierra. Estará en un lugar completamente diferente en el Gan Eden. Quien posee y vive constantemente con ese profundo conocimiento, merecerá un lugar más elevado en el Gan Eden, puesto que estará más cerca de Hashem. Ya que la esencia interna del Gan Eden es la cercanía a Hashem. Por lo tanto, mientras más piense la persona en Hashem y Lo ame en lo más profundo de su corazón, más cerca estará de Él en el Gan Eden. Estos conceptos son claros, conocidos y obvios para los versados en la pnimiut (aspectos más profundos) de la vida. Sin embargo, el yetzer hará incita a la persona a vivir superficialmente en su pensar y en su actuar, de manera que no entienda la grandeza y profundidad de la idea de vivir constantemente con Hashem. Mientras más penetre el conocimiento de que existe un Creador en lo más profundo del alma, nivel tras nivel, llenando totalmente su corazón, mayor será su cercanía a Hashem en este mundo, en el Gan Eden, y en el Mundo Venidero. Merecerá estar cada vez más cerca de Hashem por toda la eternidad. Lo contrario también es cierto, jas veshalom. Si en lo profundo de nuestro corazón estamos desconectados de Hashem, realizando sus actos por fuerza de la costumbre sin ninguna conexión con Él, entonces, aunque ciertamente recibiremos recompensa por ellos, perderemos la esencia principal de la recompensa, que es “deleitarse en Hashem”. Debemos entender que la única finalidad de la vida es estar conectado y apegado a Hashem en los lugares más recónditos del corazón, mediante el estudio de la Torá y el cumplimiento de las 613 mitzvot.

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A pesar de que este asunto parece simple (el constante conocimiento de que existe un Creador) y a pesar de que no hay cosa más clara, en igual medida la gente está alejada de ello. La persona puede estudiar Torá la mayor parte del día, realizar muchos actos de bondad, y observar las mitzvot “fáciles” tan cuidadosamente como las “difíciles”, y aún así, casi nunca pensar en Hashem, ni darse cuenta para Quien trabaja. El Jazón Ish escribe al final de una carta personal de instrucción, que “lo más importante es saber para Quien trabajamos”. La persona puede trabajar, utilizando un método específico y una guía ordenada, pero no obstante, ignorar el punto principal: Recordar para Quien trabaja.

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Podríamos preguntarnos: “¿Acaso no recuerdo yo para Quién trabajo? ¡Por supuesto que sí! Estoy claro que trabajo para Hashem” Para comprender la equivocación de este razonamiento, daremos un ejemplo: La persona está sentada en frente de una mesa, y sobre ella hay algunos alimentos: carne, papas, arroz, y más. El ve la comida, pero cuando desea comerla, no se le permite. Cuando en otra oportunidad vuelve a tratar, le preguntan: “¿Qué te falta?” ¿Para qué necesitas comer? Sabes que hay comida, y la estás viendo, ¿entonces que te falta?” La respuesta obvia es que el conocimiento de que la comida existe y verla no satisfacen su hambre. La persona no puede estar satisfecha sólo con saber que está allí, sin haberla ingerido. Sólo nos sentimos satisfechos cuando el alimento ha entrado al organismo.

En cierto modo, este ejemplo explica el punto en cuestión. “Lo más importante es saber para Quien trabajamos”. Existe un tipo de conocimiento análogo a la comida que conocemos, pero no podemos ingerir. Hay otro tipo de conocimiento que entra en la persona, como el alimento que ingresa al organismo y entonces está adentro. Cuando el conocimiento de “para Quien trabajamos” es una idea corriente, pero no reflexionamos constantemente en ella, entonces este conocimiento permanecerá externo. No vivimos con ello, ni lo “saboreamos”. Es como que sabemos que existe la comida, pero no la comemos. Cualquier información que practicamos sin reflexionar es sólo intelectual, “no conocimiento del corazón”. En este sentido el conocimiento intelectual es totalmente deficiente. Nuestra principal avodá es asegurarnos que la instrucción: “para Quien trabajamos”, se convierta en un conocimiento interno que defina nuestra vida; y para convertirse en un conocimiento interno, primero debe acompañarnos en nuestro pensamiento cada hora del día. Recuerde el simple hecho de que existe un Creador y entonces, si esta idea está siempre fija y pegada en su mente, su corazón absorberá el mensaje gradualmente. Por lo tanto no será “La existencia de Hashem” tan sólo un conocimiento intelectual, sino un “conocimiento del corazón”. Una vez convertido en “conocimiento del corazón”, vivimos con él, y éste nos sustentará.

El profeta dice: “El justo vivirá por su fe”. (Javacuc 2:4) Explica que él recibe vitalidad de su misma fe en que existe un Creador. Cuando el conocimiento es sólo intelectual, proporciona poca vitalidad, pero cuando se encuentra en el corazón, la persona obtiene vitalidad del conocimiento simple de que existe un Creador.

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Dice el versículo: “Prueba y verás cuan bueno es Hashem” (Tehilim 34:9). Debemos probar y ver las bondades en Hashem. ¿Cómo se hace esto? ¿Es esto comida que se saborea y pasa por la garganta? Evidentemente, si la información es intelectual no puede ser saboreada, pero cuando se trata del conocimiento del corazón, este último lo palpa, lo siente, y saborea su dulzura. Entonces, se cumple el “y verás”, es decir, la forma de ver la fe antes de ser “probada” es totalmente distinta a la de después de ser “probada”. Toda la esencia de la fe es percibida por el hombre de manera totalmente diferente. Cuando la fe pasa del simple conocimiento intelectual al palpable “conocimiento del corazón”, se convierte en un tipo de fe totalmente distinto.

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“Prueba y verás cuan bueno es Hashem”. ¿Cómo lo probamos? ¿Colocándolo en un tenedor y metiéndolo en la boca? Lo probamos, pero con herramientas distintas. Lo saboreamos con el alma y el corazón. Mientras más piense la persona en el Creador, más cerca está de comprender lo que dice el versículo: “Prueba y verás cuan bueno es Hashem”. Pero cuando llegue a pensarlo con mucha frecuencia, podrá literalmente saborear ese “buen sabor” siempre, y “deleitarse en Hashem”, también en este mundo. Sin embargo, cuando la persona tan solo conoce el concepto, sin esforzarse en pensar mucho en ello, es sólo un conocimiento intelectual, incapaz de proporcionar sabor, ni deleite. En este caso, desperdicia con sus propias manos la oportunidad de experimentar: “Prueba y verás cuan bueno es Hashem”.

Como sabemos, Hashem creó el mundo con el propósito de otorgar bondad a Sus criaturas. ¿Qué es esa bondad predestinada? “Prueba y verás cuan bueno es Hashem”. Y como dice la obra Mesilat Yesharim: “Todo lo demás que la gente considera bueno es vano, vacío e ilusorio”. Lo único bueno en el mundo es acercase al Creador, sentirlo en lo más profundo del corazón, y saborear la dulzura de su cercanía. Por eso la Torá es llamada “buena”, como dice: “una buena adquisición” (Mishlei 4:2), y mediante ésta, podemos saborear a Hashem (por así decirlo).

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Debemos saber que este punto, pensar sobre el Creador, es la base y la clave para entrar a la vida interior, la verdadera vida del alma. Sin este pensamiento la vida es superficial. Debemos entender que pensar en Hashem es la clave para lograr todo en el mundo. Debemos estudiar Torá y observar las mitzvot, pero siempre “lo más importante es saber para Quien trabajamos”. De este modo, tanto la Torá como las mitzvot serán como deben ser. Si recordamos constantemente para Quien trabajamos, todos nuestros actos serán correctos. Con esta clave podemos abrir todas las puertas cerradas que obstaculizan el camino para acercarnos a Hashem. Mientras más profundice la persona, mayor será su sensación de “prueba y verás cuan bueno es Hashem”. Experimentará lo que dice el versículo: “Y entonces te deleitarás en Hashem” (Yeshayahu 58:14), también en este mundo.

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Ahora, tratemos de aplicar el asunto a nuestra vida diaria. Mostraremos como vivir con Hashem en forma simple. Hasta tanto la persona no tenga la absoluta claridad que todo el sentido de su vida es sólo para buscar a Hashem, encontrarlo, y acercarse a Él, este camino no le será atractivo, ni podrá apreciar su profundo valor. Solamente cuando la persona, piensa entiende y siente en su corazón que la vida únicamente es para buscar a Hashem, encontrarlo, y acercarse a Él, entonces aceptará correctamente el ir por este camino, se relacionará debidamente con él, y entenderá que toda su vida depende del mismo.

Todos los caminos están lleno de dificultades, y generalmente no existen atajos, de manera que debemos avanzar lentamente, y en el debido orden. Sólo cuando la persona siente y entiende profundamente que la vida es únicamente para buscar a Hashem, no se dará por vencido, aunque en su camino hayan obstáculos y reveses. Finalmente, entenderá que no existe alternativa. Debemos perseverar y buscar a Hashem a toda costa, porque no existe más nada en la vida, y ésta es únicamente para buscar a Hashem, para acercarnos a Él. Si ha sufrido un revés, no pensará en rendirse y buscar en otra parte, porque está absolutamente claro que la vida es así. Por lo tanto, nunca se dará por vencido en sus caídas, si no que en él se cumple el versículo: “Siete veces se cae el justo y vuelve a levantarse”. (Mishlei 24:17)

Siendo que el camino de la avodá que será descrito más adelante no es un camino corto, sino que toma mucho tiempo, la persona que posee la debida perspectiva de las cosas, antes se preparará para una inversión de años, entendiendo que todos esos años son únicamente para dicho propósito. Sin embargo, si la persona toma este punto como algo secundario, entonces sólo podrá llevarlo a cabo durante poco tiempo. Si éste se alarga, sentirá que no desea invertir tanto tiempo en un asunto secundario, renunciará, e invertirá sus energías en otra cosa que piensa que es más importante en su vida. Por lo tanto, como explicamos anteriormente, el fundamento esencial para cualquiera que quiera emprender el camino que describiremos más adelante, es el claro conocimiento de que ésta es la senda de la vida y es por eso que vive aquí, y aunque le tome muchos años, no lo verá como una pérdida de tiempo, sino que reconocerá que todo el tiempo que le fue asignado, es para realizar esta avodá – acercarse a Hashem mediante la Torá y las mitzvot.

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Ahora nos extenderemos y esclareceremos el tema de manera práctica. La persona se levanta por la mañana, le toma uno o dos minutos aclarar la mente. ¿Cuál debe ser su primer pensamiento al despertar? ¿Qué tiene que correr a rezar? ¿Qué todavía no terminó algo que comenzó el día anterior? ¿Qué tiene algo importante que hacer hoy? Nuestra mente no debe considerar esos pensamientos y similares como los más importantes. Algunos son insubstanciales, mientras que otros son buenos y correctos, pero no constituyen el pensamiento más importante. ¿Cuál es el primer pensamiento que debe ocupar nuestra mente al despertar?

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Nuestro primer pensamiento al despertarnos debe ser que existe un Creador. Debemos comenzar el día con el pensamiento más básico y fundamental, que es la existencia de un Creador. Si este fundamento no está firmemente enraizado en nuestra alma, de manera que viva con nosotros y lo sintamos siempre, carecemos del fundamento básico para toda la avodá del hombre. Esta es la base, y sobre ella, debemos construir toda la estructura del nuestra alma. Con la ayuda de Hashem, más adelante lo explicaremos detalladamente.

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Después que la persona recuerda bien que existe un Creador, deberá reflexionar con simpleza: “¿Quién me despertó de mi sueño? ¿Quién me da la fuerza para levantarme de la cama? ¡Tú, Hashem!”. Luego, deberá decirle con simpleza: “Tú me levantaste de la cama, y te Lo agradezco. ¿Para qué me despertaste? Para servirte debidamente. Por lo tanto, deseo dedicar el día de hoy totalmente a Tu servicio”. Cuando la persona va a la sinagoga, ¿qué debe estar pensando? ¿Ante Quién me pararé a rezar? ¡Ante el Creador! Le hablaré, Lo alabaré, Le rogaré, y otros pensamientos por el estilo. Todo esto está construido sobre el fundamento definido, de que existe un Creador.

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Este es el fundamento y la raíz de toda la avodá de la persona: sentar el fundamento en el alma para que ésta sienta literalmente en todo momento la existencia de un Creador. No debe ser sólo un conocimiento mental, sino más bien, su vida debe estar absorbida por ello, y todo su ser debe experimentar el hecho básico y simple, de que existe un Creador. Durante todo el día, la persona debe ir con este simple pensamiento, “Existe un Creador”. Esta es la idea más simple, sin tener que hacer un análisis profundo (quienes requieren un estudio más profundo, deben asignar un tiempo fijo para ello. Pero durante el día, la mayor parte de la avodá debe ser este simple pensamiento, el cual se reafirmará y aclarará a medida que el individuo profundice en el tema durante el tiempo asignado). Debemos vivir con el pensamiento simple en la mente, y con él, lentamente hacer vivir este punto simple en el corazón. Este es el conocimiento más simple y claro, exento de complejidad – el conocimiento de la existencia de un Creador. Cualquiera que desee construir un mundo interior sólido, debe comenzar con esta avodá.

Durante todo el día debemos recordar este simple pensamiento. Al principio, la persona debe preparase recordatorios externos, una vez cada hora aproximadamente. Después de que el alma se haya acostumbrado a eso, debe aumentar a cada quince minutos (por ejemplo). Lentamente, paso por paso, debe recordarlo con mayor frecuencia, hasta que recuerde cada pocos minutos que existe un Creador. Eso no debe hacerse rápido, sino efectivamente. Después de que la persona siente haber logrado ese nivel, y lo recuerda casi automáticamente, solo entonces debe continuar disminuyendo el tiempo aún más. Llegará el día en que Hashem le otorgue el privilegio de recordar constantemente que existe un Creador.

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La esencia de la avodá que aplicamos es, que mediante el pensamiento tranquilo y simple, pero en forma muy frecuente, una y otra vez, eliminaremos la “orla” (barrera espiritual la cual genera insensibilidad hacia la santidad) del corazón, y permitirá que el corazón perciba las cosas debidamente.

En el ejemplo de Rabí Akiva encontramos un concepto similar con el agua que penetró la roca. Piense al respecto. El agua que caía eran simples gotas, la primera era igual a la segunda, y a la tercera, y así consecutivamente. En este ejemplo podemos apreciar que, a pesar de su simpleza, una simple gota cayendo constantemente es capaz de romper una piedra. Igualmente sucede con el corazón de la persona, conocido como “corazón de piedra”. Si la persona quiere romper su corazón de piedra, debe repetir el mismo simple pensamiento y las simples palabras, una y otra vez, muchas veces, hasta lograr eliminar la piedra de su corazón, mereciendo entonces disfrutar con uno de carne, un corazón que siente y conoce a su Creador.

Cuando la persona toma este simple punto y recuerda en su mente que existe un Creador, repitiendo las palabras una y otra vez, será capaz de romper la “barrera del corazón” – la calcificación del corazón, y lo hará puro y santo, permitiéndole conocer verdaderamente al Creador.

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A fin de que la persona observe estas palabras de manera ordenada, antes debe tener en su mente y corazón el conocimiento simple y verdadero.

Al comienzo de su obra Mesilat Yesharim, el Ramjal escribe: “Mientras más profundice en el asunto, verá que la única verdadera perfección es dvekut a Hashem. El rey David dijo: ‘Y para mí, la cercanía a Hashem me es buena’ (Tehilim 73:28). También dice: ‘Una cosa pedí de Hashem y ella siempre la buscaré: concédeme habitar en la casa del Eterno todos los días de mi vida; para contemplar la hermosura de Hashem, y visitar en Su santuario’. (ibid. 27:4) Sólo esto es bueno, y cualquier otra cosa considerada buena por la gente es vana, vacía e ilusoria”.

Debemos entender el fundamento más sencillo de la vida. ¡Todo lo que tenemos durante toda nuestra vida, tanto en este mundo como en el venidero, y por toda la eternidad, es a Hashem! Debemos conocerlo, acercarnos y apegarnos a Él, “y cualquier otra cosa considerada buena por la gente es vana, vacía e ilusoria” Todo, absolutamente todo, es solamente vanidad, salvo el conocer al Creador, la cercanía y la dvekut a Él, no existe nada en ningún lugar, ni en ningún tiempo más que Él. Cuando la persona entienda esto y lo analice debidamente, comprenderá un punto básico y simple: Todas sus ocupaciones diarias siempre deben girar en torno a Hashem. Debe vivir de manera que Hashem sea el centro de todo en cualquier situación, lugar y tiempo. Debe buscar a Hashem en toda situación, lugar y tiempo. Cuando entendemos que las 613 mitzvot son únicamente consejos (como dice el Zohar) para lograr el conocer al Creador, la cercanía y la dvekut a Él; y que la Torá, raíz de todas las mitzvot, nos fue entregada para unirnos al Creador, comprenderá que tanto en cuestiones seculares como sagradas – las 613 mitzvot – buscan acercarnos a Hashem. Es decir, debemos recordar que tanto en asuntos cotidianos como espirituales, debemos buscar la manera de acercarnos y conectarnos a Hashem.

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Cuando pensemos así, estaremos muy cerca de andar por el camino antes descrito. Por cuanto que todo nuestro modo de vida es conectar a la persona a Hashem, en todo lugar y situación. Cuando la persona carece de este conocimiento básico, le resultará muy difícil avanzar, pero cuando conocemos la verdad, que toda la vida se trata de buscar y acercarse a Hashem, estará en capacidad de emprender el camino indicado en este libro.


Section 3 Emunah, Man and his Creator

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We have so far described the way to achieve the first stage – maintaining in one’s mind and heart the basic awareness that there is a Creator. Before we continue, it is important to remember an essential rule for success, both in physical and in spiritual matters.

Any achievement begins with an effort “from below,” (issarusa dilesato) which stimulates a corresponding blessing “from Above,” (issarusa dile’eila) which enables one to attain one’s goal. A person on his own can do nothing; he is feeble. Nevertheless, the rule is “If I do not do for myself, who will do for me, but if I am on my own, what am I?” If one focuses on “if I am on my own, what am I?” he will think that there is no point in trying. But the truth is that “If I do not do for myself, who will do for me?” In other words, a person must realize that he cannot accomplish anything on his own, yet he must nevertheless do his part. If one truly senses this, he will make the effort, with the knowledge that on his own he cannot achieve anything – because man’s ability is limited. One can start various projects and never finish a thing. “A task is accredited only to he who completes it,” and in fact, it is only Hashem who brings each thing to completion. Hence, nothing can really be attributed to man’s efforts. One can only put forth the effort “from below.”

“Man prepares his heart, but the expression of the tongue is from Hashem.” A person tries to prepare his heart, but the resulting words are only from Hashem. A person can never feel that he has started and completed a task by himself. Since this is the real truth, one must realize that all one does is to put forth the effort “from below,” but one must seek help from Hashem. Each time again, he will call upon the Master of the World and say to Him, “I have done my part. Now, Hashem help me. Otherwise, I will not be able to attain what I seek.”

No matter what area a person is working on, he must daven. If he is working on being aware of Hashem, he must recall that on his own, a person is forgetful. If he tries to remember by himself, and does not ask Hashem for help, he will never achieve true awareness. Hence, with regard to our topic, a person must make maximum effort to constantly remember that there is a Master of the World, but he must also daven to Him to truly implant this knowledge in his heart. Once the first stage has been truly acquired, we may move forward with the next stage in our avodah.
As stated above, knowledge that there is a Creator is not a fact that from time to time surfaces in one’s consciousness, rather, it is an awareness experienced in the soul. Just as a person is basically aware of the time of day and does not err by five hours in either direction, so too, must knowledge of the Creator be alive in the person, encompassing his whole life. If a person hasn’t yet reached this level, it is not appropriate for him to advance to the next stage. The path of avodah must be well-founded, so that one advances to a later stage only after the prior stage is inwardly acquired.
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After one has indeed merited that the awareness of the Creator is part of his being, he is ready to progress to the next stage.

The next stage consists of understanding the nature of the relationship between the Creator and His creation– the recognition in one’s soul that he and the entire world are creations of Hashem. Until this point, we have discussed the knowledge that there is a Creator. Now, we will continue and work with the fact that Hashem created all that exists. Certainly, this is obvious to any believer, but our task is not to merely know this, our main avodah is to actually feel it. The soul must feel that it and the entire world are creations of Hashem.
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Pharaoh said, “The Nile is mine, and I made myself.” In other words, he clearly believed in Hashem’s existence, since he said, “Who is Hashem that I should listen to Him?” Despite this, he believed that he, not Hashem, created himself.

We see here an example of someone who entertained the absurd idea that he created himself. Now, one might think that this was just some fool who lived on the earth once upon a time and maintained this absurd notion that he, not Hashem, created himself, chas veshalom, and that has nothing to do with us. He disappeared along with his mistake, so why should we bother with this ancient error?

Yet, the truth is not so. We have a tradition from our teachers that the whole Torah, with all its details and fine points, relates to every single person. Each person has within himself an aspect of Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe, and the other great people of the Torah. Similarly, each person has within him the opposite kinds of forces – Lavan, Pharaoh, Bilaam, and the other evil people mentioned in the Torah.
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We must understand that this does not only mean that there are hints and lessons we can learn from our great leaders and the evil people of old. Rather, the idea is that “Avraham” is a force of purity that exists in each soul, and so it is with all the holy Avos and the rest of the seven “shepherds” of our people (Yosef, Moshe, Aharon, and Dovid). Conversely, the evil characters are forces of impurity present in each soul, as the Rambam writes (in a letter to his son), “Pharaoh is truly the yetzer hara.” This teaches that every soul has a force of evil called Pharaoh, and the claims and acts of Pharaoh seen in the Torah and Midrashim actually exist in the soul. There is a Pharaoh in the world, and a Pharaoh in the soul. The Pharaoh in the world once existed, but is no more, and we are presently not very much involved with him. But the Pharaoh of the soul exists now in literally each and every Jewish soul, and we are very much involved with him. We must recognize him well and know how to wage war against his false views and the foolish thoughts he sends our way.
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We can now well understand that each of us has deep in his soul a force that proclaims, “The Nile is mine and I made myself.” We learn how to eliminate this distortion. We must understand that the feeling that we and the entire world are created beings is not at all simple to attain. There is an internal force in a person called “Pharaoh,” which prevents a person from feeling this. If we skip this stage, the soul will retain a force that contradicts simple emunah. Therefore, we must work hard to instill inside ourselves the simple fact that we are created by Hashem and to sense this at all times.
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We must contemplate and understand that a person is himself a microcosm of all existence. Any force of evil we see in creation must be present in each person’s soul. However, not all forces are equal. Some forces are quite apparent in the soul, while others are more hidden, but each force in the world has a corresponding presence in the human soul.

Harav Yerucham Levovitz zt”l of Mir once expressed the idea that there exists in a man’s soul an entire zoo, containing a lion, a bull, a snake, and so on. We will not go now into all of the soul’s forces, only the force mentioned above – the force in each person’s soul that feels that he created himself. This is not so strange. We have seen in recent generations, up to our time, that people think they came into being naturally. The difference between that view and the view that one created oneself is not all that great. They are both absurd. Yet, both of these beliefs are present in the soul. Each soul contains a feeling that it created itself and that it came into this world through a natural process.
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Although each soul possesses all of these forces, they are not necessarily evident in every believing person. Therefore, a person may come to think that there is no need for him to work on these points. He will skip over this aspect of avodah and want to immediately begin working on loftier points. But this attitude and form of avodah is fundamentally flawed. Although these negative thoughts may not be apparent in the soul of any believing person, deep down, they certainly exist. If one neglects these forces and ignores their presence, he leaves within himself a vacuum and a missing rung on the ladder. Every vacuum and missing rung causes a lack of stability and permanence in one’s avodah.Therefore, the proper way is to work with each stage, even those that seem simple and unnecessary, because in fact, there is no stage that can be ignored.
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What lies at the root of our spiritual deficiencies, such as our lack of real emunah in Divine Providence? It is not only a problem with emunah in Divine Providence, but a more basic problem. It comes from the lack of real palpable emunah in the existence of the Creator and the awareness that He created the individual. Certainly, the person knows all this in his mind. But since deep in the soul, there is a force that feels otherwise, the emunah is not sufficiently clear. Since the fundamental, simple emunah in the existence of the Creator is lacking, there will be a lack in the results of that emunah. Therefore, a person must instill within himself the simple emunah that there is a Creator, and the fact that Hashem created him.
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One’s age is irrelevant. If one has worked on the simple points, he may progress further, but if not, he must return to the beginning and establish a healthy foundation of simple emunah. Every person who works in this way and properly establishes simple emunah in his heart in a living, palpable and clear way, will immediately feel that many of the difficulties he had previously encountered will disappear – or at least, have been diminished.

As long as the light of simple emunah does not properly illuminate the soul, the soul is immersed in deep darkness. There is no light clearer and brighter than simple emunah, and when a person is lacking this light, he is missing the primary pure light, and his soul feels sadness and a lack of clarity. Even if the soul is not aware of the problem and does not understand the cause of its darkness, this fact is nonetheless true. A soul without pure and clear emunah is lacking the ultimate light, the light needed to generate all the other illumination inherent in Torah and mitzvos.

We will try to clarify the matter to help anyone who seeks simple and pure emunah in Hashem. In this way, he will attain true happiness and a solid foundation for the entire structure of true avodah.
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“In the beginning, Hashem created the heaven and the earth.” When the Chofetz Chaim zt”l would sense a weakening of his own ruchniyus, he would review the account of the days of creation, learning the order and details of creation in a very simple way.

One might wonder: Didn’t the Chofetz Chaim know Who created the world? Did he have some doubt about it, chas veshalom? Of course not! But the explanation of this conduct is that when a person senses some weakness and laxity in his Torah study or another matter, it is likely that the weakness does not stem from that area itself. Rather, the problem stems from the ultimate foundation of everything: emunah. That does not mean that the individual is weak in the intellectual aspect of his emunah, and that chas veshalom, he has some doubt in his mind. Rather, the point is that the light of emunah in his heart has become somewhat weakened, and it is no longer actively illuminating his heart. When there is a weakness in the ultimate source, which is emunah, one senses a weakness in Torah study and other aspects of one’s avodah.
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Let us ponder this point and consider it. The Chofetz Chaim was truly one of the greatest of his generation. Yet, he himself did this in order to awaken within himself the most basic point of emunah. He did not engage in sophisticated philosophizing, but rather returned to the simplest, clearest points of emunah. He achieved all this through a simple review of the pesukim about the works of creation, studying them with a deep simplicity.

You should know that this is a very great secret. The soul, deep down, is very simple and uncomplicated. Therefore, when a person wishes to arouse in himself the inner aspect of the soul in all its true purity, he must employ the simplest concepts and strengthen the roots of simple emunah. The first area to strengthen is the awareness that there is a Creator, as we mentioned above. He must then focus on the relationship of the Creator and that which He created, until these concepts are alive and clearly present in the soul in a palpable way, and the soul feels them and is in contact with them literally at all times.
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We must not make light of this recommendation to adopt the way of the holy sage, the Chafetz Chaim zt”l. We must toil to implant within ourselves the most basic principle of all – simple and pure emunah. Generally speaking, when we discover problems in our spiritual lives, we notice only the external aspects, which are the branches, but the true root of them all is deep down in the soul.

The root of the Jewish soul derives from Avraham Avinu, whose very first efforts were in the area of emunah, as it says, “At the age of three, Avraham recognized his Creator.” Certainly, the way Avraham attained emunah was different than the way we should attain it, since we already possess a tradition from our ancestors, and we have the Torah, which was not the case with Avraham Avinu. But what we share in common is the need to plant within ourselves the main foundation, which is true emunah in the living G-d.
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For example, many people fail and succumb to the temptation to speak loshon hara or to use their eyes in an inappropriate manner. They then attempt to tackle these problems in any number of ways. You should know that the root of all these problems is the lack of palpable emunah. Therefore, the primary way to begin repairing all breaches in observance is not only with practical resolutions as to how to act in various situations, but primarily, to perfect one’s emunah, so that it becomes pure and clear. Then, the rest will be much easier, and he will be able to deal with the particulars of any sinful behavior, which all stem from a lack of clarity in emunah.

As one’s emunah becomes more alive and clear, he will find the strength and courage to properly toil in Torah and keep all the details of the mitzvos correctly. The opposite is also true: the more the emunah is missing from one’s soul, chas veshalom, the more difficult it will be to toil in the holy Torah and observe the details of the laws with a true sense of fear of Hashem. May Hashem enable every one of us to truly reach this level.
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We will attempt to demonstrate how to learn the story of creation, in a way that will instill and awaken in the soul pure and simple emunah. We wish again to emphasize that we are not looking for new ideas, but only to understand the pesukim with absolute simplicity.

It is written, “And when your son will ask you…” From here, Chazal derive the obligation of recounting the story of the Exodus to one’s son on the night of Pesach. In each person, as well, there is an inner “father” and “son.” The intellect is the “father,” and the heart is the “son.” (“The heart understands”– meivin – is related to the word ben [son]). The intellect is the “father,” and it must teach its “son,” the heart. This teaching can be accomplished through thought, by thinking of something until it is firmly established in the heart, or through speech, by articulating words of emunah until they are fixed in the heart, as will be explained later at length.

We should understand that this is not an obligation only on the night of Pesach, but rather for all year around. One must instill in the “son” within himself – his heart – the simple foundations of emunah. “Even if we are all wise, all insightful, all know the Torah, it is incumbent upon us to recount the exodus from Egypt.” This is because chochmah, binah, and da’as are one matter, and simple emunah in the heart is another matter entirely. One might possess chochmah, binah, and da’as, and yet, be lacking simplicity. That is why, on the night of Pesach, each person must recount (lesaper – to enlighten, based on the word sapir [sapphire]) and light up his soul with the fundamentals of simple emunah learned from the exile and redemption from Egypt.
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We learn a great and important principle from the way the story must be told on the night of Pesach. The gemara in tells us that it must be related in a manner of question and answer. Chazal have revealed to us a great principle about human nature. When a person wants to instill within himself a very fundamental concept, he should do so by clarifying it through the method of question and answer.

Now, when one asks this type of question, he is already well aware of the answer, so what is the point of asking the question? However, Chazal have revealed to us here that this is the way to impart understanding to the heart. (In a deeper sense, the question gives credence to the stubbornness in man’s heart, while the answer reveals the point of truth in the heart.) Therefore, when a person wants to speak to his heart and instill a concept in a structured and firm way, he must do so in the manner of question and answer. This is an extremely important principle that sheds valuable light on the proper manner of working with one’s soul.
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We will now employ this principle to study the account of creation.

“In the beginning, Hashem created the heavens and the earth.” “In the beginning,” refers to the beginning of creation. When it says, “created,” what does that tell us? That there is a Creator and a creation. Without this passuk, one might have thought that chas veshalom, the world came into being through a natural process. But the Torah clarifies for us that there is one truth, which is that there is a Creator and a creation, and the existence of the world didn’t just happen on its own. Who is the Creator? “Elokim.” The Torah tells us Who created the world – Hashem. A person should think about this and talk to Hashem and say, “The Torah says that You created the world! You, and none other created every single thing.” Every believing Jew knows all of this, but we must firmly infuse ourselves with the concept that only Hashem, and nothing else, created the world. One who has not toiled greatly to infuse this pure emunah into his heart is almost definitely lacking in his emunah.

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In this manner, a person must speak to Hashem in very plain words, and say to Him, “If not for this pasuk, there would, chas veshalom, be a possibility of thinking that there was no Creator. But the pasuk clarifies for us that You created the world.” A person should repeat this tens and hundreds of times, and even more, in order to implant and illuminate this simple emunah in his heart.

He should say, “What did You create? The heavens and the earth.” He should lift his hand, point to the sky, and ask, “Who created these heavens?” He should then answer his question, saying to Hashem, “You created the heavens! You, and no one else, chas veshalom.”

Likewise, he should point to the ground, as bnei Yisrael pointed when they said, “This is my G-d and I shall make a home for Him,” and say to Hashem, “You created the earth. Was the earth made by itself? Absolutely not! Rather, You created it.”

In this way, a person should continue with these pesukim. For example, it says, “and there was light.” A person should contemplate the light, and ask, “Who created the light?” He should respond as above, “You, Hashem, created the light.” In this way, he should go through each detail, through all the works of creation, and consider all the individual creations he sees. Regarding each one, he should ask, “Who created this?” He should respond to himself (in the form of communication with Hashem, as will be described later), “You, Hashem, created this object.” In this way, a person must strive for weeks or months, for about half an hour each day, each person according to his ability, and instill in himself the simple emunah that all was created by Hashem. (Editor’s note: Although this work often mentions the need for about an hour devoted daily to these efforts, the author subsequently explained in person that those who find it difficult to devote a full hour can start with even a few minutes, and gradually add to the time, until it reaches an hour. The author also mentioned that ideally, this contemplation should take place at night.)
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There is a basic difference between man and the other creations. When a person infuses himself with the knowledge that the heavens, earth, animals, birds, etc. were created by Hashem, he is dealing only with things that are external to him. After that, his avodah is to instill in himself the awareness that he himself is a creation of Hashem, until he feels it properly. One must consider his hands, his feet and all the parts of his body – as the Zohar says that a person must make Hashem the king over all his limbs – and clarify to himself that each limb is a creation of Hashem, until he senses this as an obvious fact. He must continue infusing it in his heart until he merits that feeling.

A person cannot instill this knowledge within himself unless he devotes a good amount of time to it. One must divide his time, devoting most of the day to Torah study, and spending part of the day working on his emunah. If there is Torah with no emunah, then chas veshalom one is not attached to the Creator. If one does not set aside time each day for contemplating and instilling these concepts, he will forget them, and they will never enter his soul.
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A person’s avodah in all areas in general and in this area specifically, should be divided into two parts: 1) He must fix a set time every day to contemplate these matters; 2) Throughout the day, about every half hour, he must remember the point of avodah that he is trying to acquire. (Except for while he is learning Torah, when he must be immersed in his learning.)

With regard to the area of avodah we are now discussing, a person must remember about every half hour that everything is created by Hashem. He should make reminders in order to accomplish this. He should contemplate a particular object that is before him, and ask himself in the question and answer method described above, “Who created this object?” He will answer, “You, Hashem, created it.” In this way, the matter will become fixed in his heart, both through the time devoted for this each day and through the remembrance at brief intervals throughout the entire day.
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Using this method of avodah, we can advance from one stage to the next. However, you must remember that you cannot advance too quickly. As long as a prior stage is not well-established in the heart.) you cannot advance, but rather, you must continue to properly internalize the prior stage. You must work on the topic we have mentioned until the clear awareness that everything is created by Hashem is properly fixed deeply in your heart. At that point, it will be as if the object is crying out and proclaiming, “I am a creation of Hashem!” May Hashem help us all to merit that this emunah shall take root deeply in our hearts and truly sustain us, and may we thereby merit closeness and attachment to the Creator all our lives.
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We will now summarize what has been said so far. The purpose of every Jew is to be close and attached to the Creator. We discussed at length the meaning of deveikus – an inner bond with the Creator. One’s entire life must revolve around one point. All one’s actions must be focused on the One Who created him, the One Who sustains him and guides him each moment, the One before Whom he will give an account of all his deeds, and from Whom he will eventually receive his reward – which is itself the experience of deveikus to the Creator of the world.

The sefarim hakedoshim write that if a person does mitzvos for the sake of pride and honor, then when he requests his reward after leaving this world, he will be told, “‘The one you worked for will give your reward.”’ Go and seek your reward from that which motivated you. Go to the attributes of pride and honor to receive your reward. Only if a person serves the Creator can he expect reward from Him.

Essentially, we have presented a way to bring a person to a state in which he and the Creator will be very strongly bound together and he can live with Hashem every moment and in every situation. We wish to show how a person can be bound with Hashem in every time, place and situation. We are striving to achieve one thing – to connect every person to Hashem in all aspects of olam, shana and nefesh, space, time and soul, until, as the passuk says, “they will be as one.”

The first point we mentioned is that a person must remember the existence of Hashem. After that, we taught that a person must always remember that each thing is a creation of Hashem. Not only did He create it in the past, but He is creating it in the present, as it says, “He makes light and creates darkness,” in the present tense. The sefarim hakedoshim write that each moment, Hashem makes His creations anew. The relationship of Creator and created, then, is not only a matter of the past, but a constant process. A person’s avodah is to sense that each thing is a creation of Hashem and to sense the relationship of that which is created to the Creator.


Section 4 Belief in Divine Providence

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The third stage, which we will now discuss, is Hashem’s guidance of the world. The Rambam writes, that there were those who erroneously thought that although Hashem created this world, He subsequently abandoned it and the world is now governed by the stars and the constellations, chas veshalom.

A person’s avodah is to recognize intellectually and feel in his heart that Hashem has not abandoned His world for even a brief moment and will never ever abandon it. Every believer knows this well, but our avodah is to ensure that this knowledge permeates every fiber of the heart, so that a person will feel it during each step of his life. Through this awareness, he will become strongly attached to the Creator.

Before progressing further, we must point out that although the ideas are presented one after another, it takes time for each level to be attained. It is also essential to review the material often. If this were just a matter of intellectual knowledge, one could just rely on one’s memory, but since it is a matter of internalizing the ideas and living with them, one must review them again and again.

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We will now discuss Divine Providence, with the help of Hashem. A person’s activities can be divided into two general categories: Those considered minor and those viewed as major. For example, purchasing a home, getting married, and the like, are seen as major events. One does not change his home on a daily basis, and certainly, one hopes to marry only once a lifetime.

In these types of cases, most people with emunah are aware of Hashem’s Providence and feel that they need His help. Many will seek out various tefillos composed by the greatest tzaddikim, look for segulos, and try to increase their merits. But when it comes to the small events that occur on a daily basis, the fact that these things come so naturally, causes many people to forget the truth, that just as marriage is dependent on Hashem’s help, so is every minute detail of life.

For example, when a person enters a store to purchase a small cassette tape recorder, he checks the various brands, compares prices, tries them out, and finally buys one. Does he feel that he needs Hashem’s help now, just as he does when he gets married? Yet, this is his avodah – to remember that Hashem is guiding his life on a daily basis, even during very minor events. When one remembers this with every detail of life on a daily basis, he lives a life of emunah, a proper life in which he is connected to Hashem.
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Let us explore this further. Let’s say that we ask a person who is about to buy a table, a set of chairs, or something similar, “Do you think you really have control over what kind of table you will buy, or do you clearly believe that you cannot determine this at all, and it is Hashem Who decrees exactly what you will buy?” Most people, apparently, know the truth that a person doesn’t really have the ability to determine which table he will buy. However, this is something hidden in the back of their minds. Not only is it far from their heart, but it is not even in their consciousness. A person doesn’t naturally think about this or contemplate it at all. A person’s avodah, therefore, is to train himself to think before doing even small acts, like the purchase of a table or chairs. Don’t run to the store without a moment’s thought. Stop to think a little and contemplate what you are about to do. Consider whether you are the one who determines what you will achieve through the act you are about to do. After you have thought about it, verbalize this contemplation and say to Hashem, “Master of the World, I know clearly that when I buy the table, I do not have control at all as to which table to buy, but it is all by Your decree.” (However, a person can certainly effect the decision through prayer, as will be explained later at length, with the help of Hashem.)

Care must be taken that this basic emunah should not be used by the yetzer hara as an excuse to absolve oneself from the responsibility to make reasonable hishtadlus to spend one’s money wisely. One is required to make responsible and well-considered choices taking into account all relevant factors, in particular how this purchase will affect others. The result of an irresponsible, rash decision may be that Hashem will decide to let you suffer the consequences of your folly.
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A person should train himself gradually that whenever he is about to buy an object or accomplish anything else, he should consider whether the matter is really under his control. In this way, he will instill within himself the fundamentals of simple and pure emunah, that there is one unique G-d, the Master of all the worlds, Who alone determines every single detail (except for the fear of Heaven, as Chazal have said, “Everything is in the hands of Heaven except for the fear of Heaven.” ).

One should accustom oneself, for a long period of time, to perform every act with a thought of emunah. In this way he will connect all his actions to the Master of all the worlds. His life will be saturated with emunah, and all his deeds will be linked to the one unique G-d. This habit will become his nature, and he will truly acquire it in his soul. Pure, unadulterated, and simple emunah will be firmly entrenched within him.
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This is a person’s avodah: to infuse within himself the knowledge that the only One Who determines each and every event is the One Master of the world. We shall try to make this matter more meaningful to you, so that not only will you accept this intellectually, but you will also feel it in the depth of your heart.

A person’s avodah is to first nullify the notion, and then the feeling, that he is in control of events in the world. His avodah is to weed out this feeling from its roots, to ferret it out and destroy it, until he truly feels that he has control over nothing but the acquisition of fear of Heaven. Chazal have said that in reality this is the sole arena of free will. Other than that, every single event is determined by the One Master of the world.
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It is written, “You shall know today and impress on your heart.” This is a most basic principle and the root of the entire process of avodah. A person’s task is first, “know today,” to establish the concept in his mind. After the idea is a well-established fact in his mind, there begins the process of “and impress it onto your heart,” taking the knowledge to heart. The feelings of one’s heart must be in consonance with one’s way of thinking, so that it receives the knowledge without any obstruction. This requires a pure heart that has been freed from the “foreskin of the heart” which prevents the truth from penetrating into the heart and guiding it. This is the process of spiritual growth for any level a person strives to acquire. First there is the stage of “know today,” and then, there is the stage of “and impress on your heart.”
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There are two ways to affect the transition from the stage of “know today” to the stage of “and impress on your heart.”
The first is through extensive contemplation on the matter one wants to master. This can be achieved by setting aside a set time each day to think about it for an extended period of time. (We will later discuss the statement of the Ramchal in Derech Etz Chaim that everyone must devote about an hour a day for contemplation.) This must be followed by repeated brief references to this thought at intervals throughout the day (except when one is studying Torah, as mentioned before).

The second way is to repeat statements relevant to the topic numerous times. Speech has the power to inspire the heart, as will be explained later, with the help of Hashem.
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We will now focus on the method of contemplation during the allotted time devoted to such thought. We will try to show how to think in order to acquire emunah in Hashem’s Providence over every detail of life.

A person should sit in his house and devote about an hour of quiet time, free of any worldly distractions, and begin to think: “Who lives in this house? My wife and I,” and so on. Then, he should think: “Who determined that she would become my wife? Did I determine it, or was it the One Unique Being – Hashem – Who determined it?” He should talk about this in the form of a question (as described above) and then respond to himself, “Chazal, whose words are absolute truth, revealed how Hashem guides the world and they taught us that forty days before a fetus is formed, a Heavenly voice proclaims, ‘The daughter of this man will marry that man.’ Hence, Hashem Himself determined who would be my wife. I didn’t determine it at all, only He did.

Since this marriage was determined by Him, it must be clear to me that whatever resulted from this marriage also came through Him. There is no such thing as Hashem doing an action and not foreseeing all its results. Everything was revealed to Him from the beginning, and whatever ensues is His will. Hence, all the results of this marriage are really His will.”
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The person should continue to reflect: “Who determined that I would live in this house? Was it I, because I looked at a number of places and liked this one, or did Hashem determine it, as Chazal have said that a Heavenly voice proclaims, ‘This house will go to that person’?”

He should consider the fact that although he already knows the absolute truth of Chazal’s words, he rarely devotes serious thought to the practical ramifications of this and other teachings. Like many other lessons and experiences, this teaching of Chazal is relegated a humble place in the individual’s memory. In addition, since he doesn’t think about it often, his heart doesn’t sense it. The feeling that he determined it by himself is closer to his heart.

A person will thus gain a clear grasp of his condition. He knows intellectually Who determined who will be his wife and where he will live, but he has two problems: 1) He doesn’t think about this much; 2) His heart doesn’t feel it. He will then resolve to think about it more frequently and to work on similar details. He must first rectify the first problem, by at least keeping this belief alive in his mind with clear, pure and calm thought. Slowly, the concept will take root in his soul, and his heart, too, will feel it strongly.
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In addition to contemplating this, one should articulate all his thoughts, repeating words of emunah, and affirming that only Hashem determines every detail. He should review each point, one after the other with great patience, because this will have a major effect on the soul. There are two ways to do this: He could speak about Hashem in the third person, saying that Hashem determines each detail, such as this one and that one. The other way is to speak directly to Hashem in the second person, saying, “You, Hashem, determined who will be my wife and where my home will be.” This is a lofty level that expresses the goal of a person’s life which is to feel that he is in the presence of Hashem. But if this is difficult to start with, one may use the third person.
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In this way, a person should analyze all the aspects of his life in great detail. He should also articulate any considerations that might, chas veshalom, oppose simple emunah: “It seems that I chose my marriage partner and my home.” Then, he should discount them one by one, saying to Hashem, “Even though I feel that I am in control, I know that in fact this is not true. You are the One, the only One, Who determined that this person will be my marriage partner and that I will live here.”

A person should carefully consider one detail after another. He should consider, for example, the chair he is sitting on and the table nearby. He should reconstruct the process of the purchase, how he chose the particular style and color of the table and chairs: “If so, on the surface, it seems that I chose my table and chairs.” But, he should then continue to reflect and then articulate: “This is not true. Only, You, Hashem, determined precisely which table and chairs I would get. Without a doubt, even if I chose the color and style, the manufacturer makes many such chairs, so why did this chair or table specifically become mine? This was Your doing, Hashem, and You determined it with precision.”

In this way, he should consider the contents of his wardrobe, his household items and all his belongings. With each item, he should repeat in his mind and verbally state that only Hashem determines with precision which object will be his. He should thus cover all the objects he owns, and review all the events he has experienced, considering each one in detail, instilling within himself the fundamentals of emunah, the simple emunah that only Hashem determines each detail. He should first think about it in his mind, and then articulate it, as we said before, either in the third person (“He”) or in the second person (“You”) – if he is ready for that.
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“I have emunah because I spoke.” As the sefarim hakedoshim explain, “When do I have emunah? When I speak!” That is to say, emunah is planted deeply in a person’s heart by expressing it in words. The more one articulates one’s emunah in addition to thinking about it, the more emunah will take root deeply in his heart. The opposite is also true: “Emunah is lost; it is cut off from their mouths.” As the sefarim explain, emunah is lost because it is missing from their mouths. Since they were not accustomed to constantly articulate words of emunah, in addition to thinking about it, emunah became lost from their hearts. The deep clarity of the light of emunah was concealed and buried in their hearts; it was not alive there in an active way.
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These words of emunah can be expressed in two forms. When talking to friends, emunah must be a dominant theme that accompanies everything one says. But that is not enough. Even when a person is alone, which in fact is the main time for instilling emunah, he should express ideas of emunah in great detail, as explained above. “Even when I walk in the shadow of the valley of death, I will not fear, for You are with me.” A person must constantly speak words of emunah, and always live with Hashem with pure emunah. In this way, “Even when I walk in the shadow of the valley of death, I will not fear, for You are with me.” The person will always be in the state of “for You are with me.”
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The gemara defines man as “one who prays” (mav’eh), based on the passuk, “If you wish to pray, then pray (be’ayu).” A person’s task is to speak to Hashem and about Him with words of pure emunah. One who habituates himself to constantly speak this way and does not give up hope can reach a wondrous level of emunah. He can attain a true acquisition of pure emunah in his soul. This can be achieved entirely through simple words of emunah, not with lofty and sophisticated ideas, but with total simplicity. This is the essence of the Jewish soul – simple and pure emunah in the Creator of the Worlds.
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The times when a person must strive to instill emunah in Hashem’s Providence fall into two categories, as we explained above with regard to every aspect of avodah: 1) During the time in the day devoted to contemplation, which we have just been discussing. 2) At brief intervals throughout the day – about every fifteen or thirty minutes.

During the months in which a person is working to attain this level of faith, the matter must occupy his heart throughout the day. He must live with this perspective all day long. If he works with it only during his designated hour of contemplation, there will be an interruption of 23 hours until the next time he thinks about it. Anything that is not constant cannot properly take root in a person’s soul. Therefore, throughout the day, one must think about the matter he is toiling to master.
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There are two applications of remembering Hashem’s Providence throughout the day: 1) frequent events; 2) daily regular occurrences.

A person plans, for example, to purchase a table, chairs or the like. Preferably, before leaving the house, he should think to himself and say, “I am going to buy a table and chairs. I cannot really choose at all. Only Hashem will determine which table will I purchase. What I do and the choice I make will not make any difference at all, but nevertheless according to the level of hishtadlus (required effort) expected from me, I need to go about making a choice, as the Mesillas Yesharim says that even though one extends an effort, he must know that his effort does not really accomplish the result.”

This is the perspective with which he should enter the store. Even when he is in the store and begins to select the table and chairs, he must keep in mind that his choice is like that of a monkey that acts as directed. He is not in control at all, because Hashem has already determined which table and chairs will enter his home.
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We have used the example of a table and chairs, but obviously, the point is that a person should not buy anything without some prior contemplation. No matter what he buys, be it a refrigerator, a washing machine, a cabinet, or anything else, he must first prepare himself mentally, as described above, and then go to buy the item together with Hashem, not by himself, chas veshalom. A person must acquire the habit of not doing any significant act without entertaining a thought of emunah beforehand. One who acts in this manner will find that along with each material acquisition, he has gained a great and powerful spiritual acquisition. By going about a purchase in such a manner, he will infuse his heart with emunah in Divine Providence. By repeatedly thinking and articulating these thoughts, pure faith in Hashem’s Providence will take root inside him.
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We have dealt so far with significant decisions, such as major purchases. Once one has attained the habit of contemplating significant acts, his avodah is to accustom himself to do so regarding even minor decisions and undertakings.

We will provide an example: A person goes to buy food for Shabbos. Through this commonplace act, he can acquire a great deal of emunah. For example, he stretches out his hand to take a package of noodles from the shelf. He should think to himself and say, “This shelf has dozens of packages. Why did this one come to my hand and not another? It must be that for some hidden reason, You decreed that precisely this package would come to my hand, and not another.” (We are not going into what might be the reasons why Hashem decrees such things.)

The details are numerous, but there is one underlying principle: a person must train himself to inculcate himself with emunah in Divine Providence every time he buys something, as described above. An acquisition carried out in this way can enable one to make a great acquisition of emunah. Certainly, if a person takes this to heart, and accustoms himself to do so always, emunah will firmly take root in his heart.

One must accustom himself to living this way and in doing so make a lofty and awesome spiritual acquisition, that of pure emunah in Hashem and His Providence. One should accustom himself to ponder many different situations throughout the day. For example, when he sits down to eat some bread, he should consider the fact that specifically this piece of bread came to his hand. When washing his hands or drinking, he should reflect upon how this water came to him specifically though precise Divine Providence.
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Of course, one cannot always contemplate every detail of his life, but one should strive constantly to expand his awareness to more details of life, little by little, until the concept is fixed in his heart.

The main thing is that one must avoid the superficial perspective, in which Hashem’s Hand and Providence are seen only during very unnatural events and miracles. Rather, a person must see Hashem during each detail of his life, even the smallest of them, although it may seem to be a very natural happening.

The point is not to rely upon stories of wondrous events. To be spiritually alive, one must live with genuine emunah his entire life. One who lives in such a manner will attain a very high degree of deveikus to Hashem, provided that he has fulfilled the prior conditions, which are remembering Hashem’s existence and being aware that He is the Creator and we are his creations.

But contemplation is not enough; one must express these thoughts. One must know that he is not talking to himself. He is talking to the Creator of the world with the definite faith that He listens attentively to every word of emunah that comes from a sincere Jew.
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We must understand that although this is a simple path, it affects the deeper recesses of one’s soul. The yetzer hara may ridicule a person claiming that this approach is simplistic. However, anyone who has achieved the simplicity born of kedushah will understand and sense that it is davka through simplicity that a person is lifted above a life that is shallow and superficial, and placed into a world of depth and meaning.

Hashem is called a “hidden G-d.” Where does He hide? In a person’s heart. A person must work to reveal Hashem’s presence in his heart. This is achieved through an approach of uncomplicated simplicity based on kedushah. A thoughtful person can discover Hashem through each detail of creation, and remove the veil from his heart.
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Now that we have shown how to instill in one’s midst a simple and pure faith in Hashem’s Providence, we will see how establishing this emunah in one’s heart will weaken the intensity of one’s anger.

The truth is that anger is a measuring rod for a person, through which the extent of one’s faith in Hashem’s Providence can be measured. The greater one’s emunah is in Hashem’s Providence, the weaker is his trait of anger. And the further one is from faith in His Providence, the greater will be his anger. (This is besides the differences in people’s natures, making some people quicker to anger than others.) Therefore, if a person wants to check if his efforts have borne fruit and whether faith in Hashem’s Providence has made inroads into his heart, one method is to check the degree of his anger. If his reactions have not changed and he becomes as angry as he did before, he has not truly acquired emunah in Hashem’s Providence. But if he finds that the degree of his anger is decreasing, he can take that to be an indication of the extent to which he has indeed acquired emunah in Hashem’s Providence.
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We will give a brief introduction before we explain how instilling emunah can cure the trait of anger. There is a principle that applies to all true avodah in general and specifically to the trait of anger. The way to correct any flaw in one’s character traits and give it a proper balance is through bringing Hashem into the picture.

“If I (Hashem) am here, all is here.” That is to say, if Hashem is included in the process in an appropriate manner, the matter in question will be properly rectified. When Hashem is truly present at the heart of a matter, it will perforce be corrected and ultimately perfected. A person’s entire avodah therefore is to bring Hashem into the picture.
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We will now discuss and explain how to cure the trait of anger. How does one bring Hashem into the picture, in order to bring about such a cure?

What leads a person to anger? One simple answer is that anything that opposes one’s will brings him to anger. Sometimes, the anger is very weak and barely discernable. Sometimes, it is strong and very evident in the heart. And sometimes, it is so powerful and fierce that it is obvious from the person’s facial expression.

Another cause of anger (this is included in the first aspect, but is a specific application of it) is that when a person’s honor is slighted, he is angered. He feels he deserves honor, and it has been denied to him.
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Generally speaking, there are two situations that make one angry: 1) When one’s will is frustrated not through another person, but through natural events; 2) When another person thwarts one’s will.

We will provide some examples. A person gets up one morning and embarks on a journey. Suddenly, he gets a flat tire, and he can’t continue driving. No one caused this to happen. Tires naturally wear down until they get ruined. This event can make a person angry, because he planned to meet someone at a particular time, and now, he can’t. There is no one to direct the anger against, because the event didn’t occur through a person. If you would ask him, “At whom are you angry?” He would correctly respond, “I am not angry at the tire, but at the situation. I am unable to carry out my wishes and plans.” Seemingly, his anger is not directed against anyone specific. (Later, we will see that this is not exactly true.)
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The second kind of anger occurs when one person does some harm to another, such as breaking his window. Here, there is someone at whom to direct the anger – the specific individual who caused the damage.

Hence, there are two kinds of anger: 1) Where there is no clear target for the anger, because there is no one to get angry with; 2) Where there is a person who caused one to become angry.

On a deeper level, all kinds of anger are the same. We will explain. When a person really understands emunah in his mind and is properly aware of it in his heart, he realizes that in each case, the source of the event that made him angry is only the Creator.
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We will initially consider the first kind of anger, and then, with Hashem’s help we will discuss the second.

A person wakes up in the morning, gets into his car, and drives off. Later on, he gets a flat tire. If a person simply reacts to this mishap he will naturally feel angry and frustrated. However, if he lives in the proper way, he will do the following: when he enters his car in the morning, he will first of all think, “Who gave me the car? Hashem! From where does the car receive its ability to be driven? Hashem gives the car the capacity to drive each moment.” (The phrase in our Morning Prayers, “With His goodness, He renews creation each day” is said in the present tense.) If this attitude permeates mind and heart, then if the car malfunctions for any reason at all, he will think as follows: “Who gave the car the ability to work until now? Hashem! And Who now took away its ability to be driven? Hashem! If so, if I get angry at my inability to use this car, that really means I am getting angry with Hashem, because it was He Who took away from me the ability to drive this car now.”
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However, many people live with a superficial outlook on life and do not keep in mind – all the more so, in their hearts – that Hashem alone provides the ability to use a car at each moment and it is He Who constantly guides our lives. When such people encounter some problem on the road, they will find it extremely difficult to suddenly remind themselves that Hashem alone guides them. Hashem was not in the center of their thoughts before the problem surfaced, and as a result, anger will surface.
But if one constantly remembers that Hashem controls everything with precise Providence, then even when it seems that his journey was unsuccessful because there were numerous delays, he will remember in his mind and feel in his heart that: 1) Only Hashem has led him until now; 2) Only He is delaying him now, as there is no other cause. He will understand that the present hindrance is from Hashem.
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In the Torah we find an episode that is almost identical to the situation described above. Bilaam was going on his way, and his donkey crouched down and prevented him from continuing. Bilaam thought that the donkey had chosen to stop him, but that was not at all the case. The donkey did not stop of its own free will, but through an angel, a messenger of Hashem. In other words, the fact that it stopped and did not continue was a direct result of Hashem’s will. But since Bilaam did not understand this, at whom did he get angry? At the donkey! When he later understood that the hindrance was from Hashem, he realized that there was no one at whom to direct his anger.

If a person would always think in this manner, he would realize that there is no reason to lose one’s anger, because everything is from Hashem. He will realize that if he feels anger at the cause of a disturbance, he is in fact angry with Hashem, which he certainly never intended. He will realize that all of life is in truth a constant interaction with the Creator, and he will direct his attention toward Hashem, remembering Who is behind each moment and experience. He will not pay any attention to the many intermediary factors, but to He Who stands behind everything – Hashem Himself.
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Once a person has come to realize intellectually and feels in his heart that every single event comes only from Hashem, he must think more deeply about it. Does this act of Hashem stem from His love, or, chas veshalom, from hatred? Clearly, Hashem loves every person very much, with a love that transcends the kind found in created beings, a love whose essence can only be present in the One G-d.

Here is a simple example: Someone gets drunk on Purim, and wants to drive a car. His father tries to convince him that it is very dangerous, but the son doesn’t listen. The father tries to take away the car keys, but he is unsuccessful. When he sees that the son is about to drive away, he goes and lets the air out of the tires. The son realizes that he cannot drive, and begins to scream, “Father, what are you doing to me?” The father doesn’t answer, because the son will not understand him then. The son dejectedly returns to the house and falls asleep. The next morning, he barely remembers what happened, and asks his father about the previous evening’s events. When the father tells him what happened, the son hugs and kisses his father, saying, “Thank you for saving my life!”

Similarly, a person must clarify to himself that the event in question occurred through Hashem, as a result of His love toward him. That being the case, it undoubtedly was for his benefit. Although the benefit and the love are not immediately apparent, he must accept in his mind and feel in his heart that the event occurred as a result of Hashem’s deep love for him. The entire event was only for his benefit, even though he does not sense the nature of the benefit.
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Once a person realizes and feels that every single incident that occurs to him flows from Hashem’s deep love and is entirely for his benefit, there is no place for anger. Anger arises when someone offends a person or tries to harm him. But if the act is entirely positive, devoid of evil, and results from Hashem’s deep love, what place is there for anger?
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We will summarize what we have discussed so far. To begin with, a person must come to know and feel that Hashem alone causes each event. The second stage is for the person to know and feel that Hashem loves him very much. The third stage is to know and feel that Hashem is the only One Who knows what is truly best for him. If He put the person into this situation, then His infinite wisdom has determined that this was the best way to benefit the individual at this time.

Sometimes, the yetzer hara tries to fool a person and puts the thought into his head: “True, this was totally for my benefit, but why couldn’t Hashem have benefited me in a different way, in a way that I could see even with my physical eyes that this was good?” You must believe, understand, and feel that Hashem knows everything. His infinite wisdom has determined that this was the only way to benefit you at this time.
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Once a person has internalized this concept, he will not get angry over anything that happens to him. Not only that, but he will even be happy about it. Chazal refer to, “those who rejoice even when suffering.” This comes from a clear recognition of Who was the cause of the event, and why He caused it. Hashem Himself, out of his infinite love, brought this upon him.

When a person understands this and feels it with all his heart, there can be no place for anger, only for joy. If his heart is not filled with joy, and certainly, if there is still room for anger, his emunah is obviously not pure enough.

This is a person’s avodah – to fully internalize these ideas of emunah into his heart. The first step is to give it a lot of thought. The next step is to speak about it often, repeating the concepts time after time. He should say to Hashem, “I know that You caused this event, I know that You love me, and I know that this was for my benefit. Enable me to feel all this.” A person should repeat such words thousands of times, and even more, until he really feels them and that they have penetrated to the depths of his heart.
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Even if a person fails and does become angry, he should not get upset about that. He should think back on how he began the day, and realize that he was not sufficiently aware of Hashem’s guidance. Then, he should go back and instill in himself the emunah, many thousands of times. This should be done both before an unpleasant situation arises, and during such situations. He should go back and infuse these words in his heart incessantly, without being disheartened by failures. If he perseveres with this, despite the failures and setbacks and is not overwhelmed by them, Hashem will certainly grant him the privilege to acquire pure faith in his heart.

It is essential for a person to keep a daily account of his spiritual growth. This is particularly important when one is working on anger. One must check if he became angry that day, identify that it was a result of a lack of emunah, and commit himself to improve. This will have a very positive effect.
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We have described, so far, how to deal with anger that comes through an event that doesn’t involve another person. Now, with Hashem’s help, we will discuss anger that is aroused by the behavior of another person.

We have already mentioned that this is a very difficult situation, because when another person is not involved, it is clear that one cannot really get angry at the rock that one tripped over, or the tire that burst. The person understands (if he is worthy) that it came from Hashem. But when another person makes one angry, one is apt to think that since that person has free will, the event was not decreed by Hashem, but is a result of that individual’s free will. It is natural to be inclined to become angry with that individual who chose to harm him.
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There is a well-known incident that happened in the beis din of the Beis Halevi (Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, 1820-1892). A butcher once came to him with a question about the kashrus of an animal, and he ruled that the meat was forbidden. The butcher calmly accepted the decision, in spite of the financial loss this ruling caused him. Some time later, this same person came before the Beis Halevi to resolve a financial dispute between him and another man. After the Beis Halevi ruled against him and in favor of his opponent, he became enraged. The Beis Halevi commented that even though the man lost more money as a result of the first ruling, he didn’t have anyone with whom to get angry then, because the animal was not his opponent. But in the second case, there was someone to blame, and this stirred up hostile feelings.
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There are two issues when the anger-provoking situation is caused by another person: 1) It appears that the other person chose to hurt him; 2) The very fact that there is another person involved draws one into a fight, due to feelings of pride and honor. This can only be corrected through pure, clear emunah. When a person lives with true emunah, it makes no difference if he was harmed by a rock, water, a person, or anything else. Only a lack of clear emunah creates these distinctions and incites anger.
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The Zohar points out that when a dog is struck by a stick, it runs after the stick and tries to bite it. This is because the dog is unaware that the real cause of the blow was not the stick, but the person holding it. People make the same mistake. They fail to realize that any time a person serves as an intermediary to bring about an unpleasant occurrence, he is only a stick in Hashem’s Hand.

One must identify the true source of an event. It is not the stick, but Hashem. Sometimes, this stick appears in the form of a rock, sometimes as water, and sometimes as a person. The common denominator, though, is that they have the same origin – Hashem Himself.

When David Hamelech was cursed by Shimi ben Geira, his reaction was, “Hashem told him to curse.” This is the foundation of emunah – “Hashem told him to curse.” Similarly, we may say that Hashem told him to hit, Hashem told him to break, Hashem told him to embarrass. Although these examples are not found in the Torah, a wise man will extract the message from “Hashem told him to curse,” and understand that the proper approach should be nothing other than “Hashem told him.”
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One must understand the inner structure of creation. There are two ways a person might view the world: 1) The world is comprised of inanimate objects, plants, animals, and people. This is a superficial approach, because the person is only looking at the external aspect of creation. 2) We say in the Morning prayers: “You existed before the world was created, and You exist now that the world has been created.” Why did Chazal reveal this fact to us?

Clearly, any time Hashem caused some knowledge to be revealed to man, it must be that it is needed for his avodah. If so, this must also apply with regard to the statement, “You were the One before the world was created, and You existed now that the world has been created.” Chazal revealed to us a new perspective on creation. We should not just focus on the perspective of seeing the inanimate objects, plants, animals, and humans, which is the perspective of after creation. We must learn to live even now with the perspective of “before the world was created.” This is a deeper view of life, and provides an inner, true perspective of the essence of all created beings.
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This is the explanation: from the perspective of “after Creation” every object, plant, animal and human being is related to as having its own independent destiny and existence. This way of thinking naturally leads to a life filled with anger “caused” by others who have wronged or insulted him. But if one sees the world through the eyes of emunah, he lives every minute in the reality of, “You existed before the world was created.” He finds Hashem in everything. He doesn’t view the inanimate object as something independent; he senses Hashem’s energy in it. The same is true with the plant, the animal, and the person. Therefore, he never really focuses on the created being, but rather on Hashem. He senses that the entire physical world is a garment with which Hashem has disguised Himself, so to speak. He does not bother himself with the garment, but with the underlying essence, which is Hashem. Therefore, whenever something happens, he sees only Hashem, Who is the real cause of all events.

This outlook on life will completely transform a person. He will escape from the superficial state of seeing only created beings and connect to a deeper state of sensing the Creator. His only involvement will be with Hashem. (This is the depth of Chazal’s comment that when Esther said, “May the king come” she had in mind the King of the World. That was how she lived – seeing Hashem in everything – and her entire focus and communication was only with Him.)
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You should understand that this is the true way to look at creation. When one views the objects of creation as separate entities, their value is lowered, because in truth the sole importance of anything is measured by its very own degree of G-dliness. Other ways of assessing value that are commonly employed in this world are definitions that come from the world of falsehood. The truth is that each thing is as great as the G-dliness it reveals. The deeper perspective of seeing the G-dliness underlying an inanimate object, a plant, an animal, or a human, elevates them from the state of ordinary creations to the state of being creations connected to Hashem, in which there is a revelation of G-dliness. This is the entire value of any created being – the degree to which it represents and reveals the presence of Hashem.
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When a person merits to maintain the perspective of “before the world was created,” within the present state of “now that the world has been created,” he can become close and attached to Hashem even while interacting with anything in creation. The physical world does not become a barrier between him and his Creator. This is achieved when the person mentally removes the outer form of the object and sees Hashem’s presence in everything. We are not referring to the specific spiritual energy of the object, but to the ultimate common source, which is Hashem. In this manner, he will never be bound to the events and acts of the physical world, since he realizes that they are not truly the underlying reality in which these interactions transpire. In this way, he will not depend on the unpredictable variables of physical existence. Furthermore, by removing their outer form and exposing their inner essence, which is Hashem, a person is able to connect with Hashem through any event. We have elaborated on this somewhat, because it is a fundamental understanding of the inner essence of life and man’s ability and responsibility to cleave to Hashem.
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When a person has the privilege to understand and internalize this concept, he achieves a powerful bond with the Creator, for there is nothing to separate between him and his Creator. He relates to the inner essence of each thing, which is Hashem’s light, and thus, the outer form of things do not block him from deveikus to his Creator. This person can connect to Hashem not only while learning Torah and performing mitzvos. He lives according to the passuk, “In all your ways, you must know Him (da’ehu).” Literally in everything he does, he knows (yode’a) Hashem and is attached to Him (yediah means connection and deveikus, as is known).

This is a person’s avodah – to reject the superficial outer appearance of the world around him and to cleave at all times to the inner essence, which is Hashem. This includes a clear awareness of Hashem’s existence and His Providence, as we explained before. By acquiring this way of life, a person escapes the world of separateness, and joins Hashem’s world: “Hashem is One and His name is One,” becoming a member of the people “who acknowledges Your oneness” (Hoshanos). The purpose and endpoint of this stage is total deveikus to the Infinite. Each person should strive to achieve this to the best of his capabilities.
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Once a person has reached the level where his emunah is strong, and he sees Hashem’s guidance in everything he does, he should enter the world of tefillah. We intentionally use the term “world” here. This is because tefillah is not merely a matter of reciting three prayers a day. Rather, a person must enter the “world of tefillah”. Life with tefillah is an entirely different kind of existence. David Hamelech said, “and I am tefillah.” He was always involved in tefillah; he lived in the world of tefillah. When a person lives in this world of tefillah, he will not allow even fifteen minutes go by without turning to Hashem in prayer, whether in thought or verbally. The first thing to understand is that tefillah is an entirely different way to live, not merely a detail that applies at specific times in the day.
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We will explain. A sincere Jew lives in a way that ensures he is with Hashem throughout the day: his Torah is with Hashem, his mitzvos are with Hashem, and so on. What binds the person to Hashem throughout the day is tefillah. The real purpose of tefillah is to bring a person to a state in which he is always close to Hashem. When we understand that this is the purpose of tefillah, it becomes clear that tefillah cannot be limited to three or four times a day. If that were the case, the main point of tefillah – the constant connection to Hashem – would be lacking. If it only takes place during a small part of the day, how could it generate a bond that lasts throughout the entire day? Clearly, some form of tefillah must be present all day (as described later). Of this, David HaMelech said, “and I am tefillah.” His entire being was always involved in tefillah.
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If a person does not remember Hashem during the day, how can he turn to Him at all times? If he does not even remember Him, he will certainly not daven to Him.

Therefore, it is clear that first of all, a person must remember Hashem throughout the day, as explained above in detail. Furthermore, even if a person remembers Hashem, but does not remember His constant Providence over each thing every single moment, why would he turn to Him for help? After all, he doesn’t presently remember and feel that Hashem is the sole address to turn to for help in all areas.
Therefore, it is clear that to embody, “and I am prayer,” one must first have a constant awareness of the Creator and be constantly cognizant that there is a “Master of this palace,” Who is the only Master over each and every detail in the “palace” we call life.
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When a person goes through his day thinking and feeling that the success and failure (chas veshalom) of all his actions depends only on Hashem, his mind or his lips will murmur a prayer to Hashem for success in his efforts, before and even during each undertaking.

We will provide some examples: A person is about to daven Shacharis. From many years of experience, we know that it is very difficult to pray with proper intent. Who can help a person with this? Certainly, one should try to maintain proper focus to the best of his ability, but without Hashem’s help, he cannot succeed.

Chazal have already stated, “Each day, the yetzer hara opposes a person anew; without the aid of Hashem, the person cannot be victorious.” Consequently, a person cannot succeed in having the proper thoughts during his prayers relying only on his own abilities. Who can help him? Only Hashem!

If a person is wise, he will turn to Hashem and beg Him for the privilege to daven with proper intent. Likewise, if during the tefillah, he encounters difficulty in concentrating, he should pause a moment and daven to Hashem, either mentally or verbally (depending on the situation), to help him so that he can resume proper tefillah.
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Here is another example – when a person is about to begin a session of Torah study, he must understand that without Hashem’s help, he will not be able to grasp the truth. The Torah is loftier than human intellect. In the sefarim hakedoshim, it is referred to as sechel nivdal, “a separate intellect,” because it is separate and elevated above human intellect. Therefore, it is clear that there is no way for a person’s mind, which is merely human intellect, to understand the depth of the inner truth of the Torah. That being the case, how can one hope to understand the holy Torah properly? This can only happen with help from Hashem, “for Hashem gives wisdom, from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

Therefore, when a person realizes that left to his own resources, he cannot understand the Torah, and success can only come through Hashem’s help, he must pour out his heart in tefillah to Hashem (in his own language) that he should have the privilege to grasp and discover the truth of our holy Torah. Before a person begins to learn, he should beg Hashem for the ability to understand the holy Torah properly. Also, while he is learning, any time he is faced with a question or something he doesn’t understand, he must naturally turn to Hashem and beg for the privilege to understand the matter at hand.

A person who learns Torah in this manner, attaches himself to Hashem even while learning, and his Torah and tefillah are connected. If he doesn’t do this, and forgets about Hashem because he is immersed in his studies, there is a danger that even when he has finished his learning session, he will, chas veshalom, forget about Hashem. Therefore, the proper way is to do as described above when learning Torah. In this way, his Torah will be attached to Hashem, and will attach him to Hashem. It will not, chas veshalom, distract him.

This is not some new concept which we have invented; it was the way of our master, the Chazon Ish, as is recorded in his biography. Any time he would come across a question or something difficult to understand, he would go to a corner of the room and pour out a whispered prayer before Hashem, asking to be able to understand the matter properly.
Of course, you don’t need to go into a corner. Each person should act according to the needs of his soul. You can certainly do this in front of the sefer, turning to Hashem with your mouth or mind, asking Him to help you understand the holy Torah. (Incidentally, besides tefillah during learning, which can bind a person to Hashem, each time one has the privilege to understand a Tosafos and the like, he should briefly thank Hashem at the end of the piece. He might say, “Master of the World, I thank you so much for enabling me to understand this Tosafos.” In this manner, he will bind himself to Hashem the entire time he is learning. This is a wonderful suggestion for achieving true deveikus to Hashem.) A person should accustom himself to ask Hashem for understanding before learning, while learning, and after learning. He should ask to be able to remember the material and to have the privilege to learn in the future. If a person does this on a regular basis, he will achieve something really great, with the help of Hashem. He will understand the holy Torah, and also attain deveikus in the process.
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Here is another example: A person goes to a store to purchase a table, a set of chairs, or the like. We described above how before and during a purchase, one must awaken the emunah that Hashem has determined which item he will purchase. In addition, before purchasing any such item, one must turn to Hashem and express all his thoughts: he needs a new table, and plans to buy one, he is going to try to find one in a particular store, and any other such matters. He should spell out every single detail before Hashem. Then, he should ask Hashem to guide him in the proper way, so that he will buy the right table, he should not have to trouble himself too much, he should succeed in guarding his eyes from improper sights on the way, and any other matters relevant to the purchase of that table. That is to say, he should seek Hashem in all aspects of the purchase and ask for help in all of them.
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Any person working on himself will understand that these are only examples. A person must gradually train himself to daven for success during all of his actions. (This must be approached gradually because “if you grab too much, you have nothing” and anyway, it is pointless to move too fast, because this is a matter of the heart, and the heart cannot make radical changes suddenly.) This includes repairing a broken object, or preparing food, or traveling to be somewhere by a specific time, or looking for a study partner, or whatever. He will then acquire the habit to constantly turn to Hashem, with his mind or his lips, for each detail of life at all times. In this way, he will have the privilege to attach himself to the ultimate source of life – Hashem. This is a very wonderful piece of practical advice.
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You should know that although tefillah has the ability to help childless couples, heal the sick, unleash a shower of material and spiritual blessings, and is a means for attaining all good things, these benefits are all incidental to the main point of tefillah. The real greatness of tefillah is that through it, one can become tied and attached to the ultimate source of life – Hashem.

When davening to attain a particular thing, whether spiritual or material, a person must bear in mind the main point of his prayer. This is really the whole secret of life – to always remember what is primary and what is secondary, and to always find the way to attain closeness to Hashem through every thing and each situation. Everything else is incidental and secondary to closeness and deveikus to Hashem. This is particularly true concerning tefillah, which is essentially communication with Hashem, closeness to Hashem, and deveikus to Him.

A person’s avodah is to be constantly mindful not to be too engrossed in the subject of his requests, but rather, in the essence of tefillah, which is communication and closeness with Hashem. Tefillah is so called based on the passuk, “Naftulei Elokim Niftalti” (“I have been attached to Hashem”) which refers to deveikus, as the sefarim hakedoshim state. This is the whole inner essence of tefillah – attachment to Hashem.
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When a person davens and talks to his Creator, there are two possibilities: he might speak in the third person, saying “He,” or he might speak in the second person, saying “You.” The ideal way to daven is to use the second person. Although this may be very difficult at first, because the soul doesn’t feel Hashem’s immediate presence, a person must accustom himself to it. With time, little by little, Hashem will grant him the privilege to feel that He is nearby.

This must also be achieved in stages. At first, one should speak mainly in the third person, using the word “He,” and occasionally use the second person. Gradually, as he begins to feel more comfortable saying “You,” he should increase his usage of this mode, until all his words are in the form of direct communication with Hashem, and he has the privilege to feel that his Creator is right near him. This is the goal of life. The whole purpose of man’s life in this world is to live with his Creator, and to feel that Hashem is really next to him. This, in fact, is one of the most difficult levels to achieve. As the Ramchal says, our senses contradict this truth. But when a person gradually accustoms himself to attain it, Hashem will certainly help him until he really feels Him right nearby, and he can talk to his Creator “as one talks to a friend”
This may at first seem beyond a person, but if one accustoms oneself to have all his activities center around Hashem and talks to Him throughout the day, it will become much easier. He will grow in this lofty avodah of feeling that Hashem is there and to speak to Him at all times as if to a friend. This will become very simple and natural. This was the way of the great rabbis in all the generations. They sensed in a most tangible way that Hashem was present right next to them.


Section 5 Fear of Hashem

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Yiras ha’onesh (fear of punishment) is the foundation of one’s spiritual growth. It is referred to as “inferior fear” in the sefarim hakedoshim (as opposed to awe of Hashem’s greatness, which is called “superior fear”). Yiras ha’onesh is divided into two parts: 1) fear of punishment after death, such as Gehinnom; 2) fear of retribution here on earth, through various forms of suffering.

We shall begin by discussing punishment after death. Most people find it difficult to attain this kind of yirah. Since we can’t see Gehinnom with our eyes, it is hard to fear it. It is human nature not to fear that which we cannot conceive, let alone see. If a person would be pure, and by means of his soul be able to perceive the punishments of the afterlife, he could attain fear of Gehinnom. But since very few people are on the level of perceiving what transpires in the spiritual world through their souls – and in any case, attaining yiras ha’onesh would be a prerequisite to reaching that level – this is obviously not the way to attain yiras ha’onesh.

What then is the primary way to attain yiras ha’onesh? One has to use one’s mental faculties – specifically the imaginative faculty – to picture Gehinnom, and thereby reach yirah. The problem, however, is that few people in our day and age are endowed with an imaginative faculty strong enough to influence their hearts to fear punishment. This being the case, it is most difficult to attain yiras ha’onesh. The body can’t see it; the soul, which can perceive it, is hidden from consciousness; and our power of imagination is too weak.

In view of these considerations, many teachers in these latter generations decided not to dwell at length on yiras ha’onesh. Others, on the other hand, felt that we cannot abandon this foundation of our avodah. They continued to work with it a great deal, in spite of the difficulties involved. They actually spent their entire lives teaching people about it. Nevertheless, due to the difficulties involved, they were not very successful.

Both of these approaches are dangerous. If a person skips over yiras ha’onesh, and moves forward to something higher, he is lacking an important foundation. Chas veshalom, at times when he is uninspired and falls spiritually, when the fire of the love of Hashem is not burning within him, what will prevent him from sinning if he has not acquired yiras ha’onesh? But the other approach is also dangerous. Since it is so difficult to attain yiras ha’onesh, a person is liable to spend his entire life trying to master it, and never move on to higher levels. He will leave this world with very little to show for his efforts.
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We will begin to explain the essence of yiras ha’onesh. As we have mentioned a number of times, a person must strive to find Hashem in every aspect of life. This applies to yiras ha’onesh as well. We must first find Hashem in this avodah of yiras ha’onesh, and then figure out how to come closer to Him through it. First, we must contemplate – who created Gehinnom? Hashem Himself. It is the fruit of His handiwork. In addition to that, consider – who metes out the punishment in Gehinnom? Does it operate on its own? Of course not! Only Hashem, the One and Only, creates Gehinnom anew each moment. (This is why “He forms light and creates darkness; He makes peace and creates evil” is stated in the present tense; all things are created each moment anew.) He is the One Who punishes in Gehinnom.
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Now let us consider why Hashem created Gehinnom. Does He want to harm us? Certainly not! Rather His desire is clearly that we should all attain closeness to Him. When a person sins, he creates a barrier that prevents him from attaining closeness to Hashem. One of the ways to remove that barrier is through the punishments of Gehinnom.

Hence, Gehinnom is merely a means of attaining closeness to Hashem. If one only fears Gehinnom, without remembering and being conscious of Who created it and Who punishes there, and for what reason, he has misunderstood the whole point. He fears the external aspect of Gehinnom, but fails to grasp the purpose for which this fear was created.
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Once, however, we internalize an awareness of the existence of the punishment of Gehinnom, this very awareness generates a fear of it. Why does Hashem want us to be afraid? Does Hashem want to upset a person and frighten him? That is certainly not the case. Rather, the entire purpose of one’s life is to be close to Hashem. Yet, as we said, by transgressing Hashem’s will, a person creates a barrier between himself and his Creator. Hashem has therefore created Gehinnom so that a person will be afraid of that, and hence refrain from doing those very things which will distant himself from Him.

The fear of the punishment of Gehinnom is thus not a goal unto itself at all. Its whole purpose is to prevent a person from distancing himself from his Creator, and to ensure that he has the privilege of attaining true closeness to Him. Merely fearing Gehinnom without remembering the purpose of the fear misses the point.
This is a very fundamental idea. One must remember that both the punishments as well as the fear of Gehinnom exist only for the sake of allowing us to attain closeness and attachment to the Creator, as opposed to any external reason.

When a person strives to acquire yiras ha’onesh, he should first be aware of what or whom he fears – Gehinnom itself, or Hashem Who punishes there. (Of course, it is natural to fear the punishment, but the main thing to remember is Who punishes. This is a deep concept, which Harav Yechezkel Levinstein zt”l used to speak of.) One must remember the purpose of this fear.
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When a person strives to acquire yiras ha’onesh in this way, his entire avodah takes on new life. Otherwise, one might, chas veshalom, strive for years to attain fear of Gehinnom, and yet completely forget about Hashem all that time. He will have become preoccupied with fear of Gehinnom, but forget about Hashem. When a person progresses in the way we have recommended, however, yiras ha’onesh itself becomes a means to draw him close to his Creator, and not, chas veshalom, the opposite.

The key is to determine whether yiras ha’onesh is helping one remember Hashem more and feel that he is getting closer to Him, or if it has made him more self-absorbed and consumed with worry about getting hurt and punished.
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There is something else you should know. Yiras ha’onesh is not only a last resort that is needed for small-minded and foolish people. It is true that the sefarim hakedoshim have written that yiras ha’onesh is meant for such people. What they intended to say is that such people can only attain yiras ha’onesh and nothing more. However, it is clear that even the greatest people need yiras ha’onesh.

When a person is uninspired and feels intellectually unmotivated, he needs a strong measure of yiras ha’onesh. At such a time, the attitudes that usually motivate him are not operating, and the only thing that can protect him is the yiras ha’onesh in his heart. A person must therefore know that when he starts working on yiras ha’onesh, he is thereby fulfilling Hashem’s will.

This becomes another element that binds a person to Hashem. One must expend effort in acquiring yiras ha’onesh because this is the will of Hashem. (Certainly, there are times when one may feel yiras ha’onesh because he fears the punishment itself. He thus works on his yiras ha’onesh because he is concerned that he does not have sufficient fear and might therefore come to sin, chas veshalom, and be punished. Because he is afraid for his own sake, we might think that this is not acceptable. In heaven, however, it is considered that he is working on this for both reasons – because he fears the punishments of Gehinnom, and because Hashem’s will is that he should toil to acquire yiras ha’onesh.)

We see now that one can connect to Hashem even through yiras ha’onesh, which is a person’s concern that he might get punished and harmed. To do this he should remember: 1) Who created and still creates Gehinnom; 2) Who decrees the punishment in Gehinnom; 3) the purpose of that punishment, which is to bring a person closer to Hashem; 4) the purpose of the fear, which is to prevent a person from sinning and becoming distant from Hashem; 5) the reason for working on acquiring yiras ha’onesh (at least partially), which is because such is Hashem’s will.

We now have five ways in which yiras ha’onesh can bring a person closer to Hashem. With these in mind, even when he is working to attain yiras ha’onesh, he will not be self-absorbed, but will remember his Creator properly and even merit coming closer to Him.
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When a person bears in mind these five points, he is ready to start working to attain yiras ha’onesh. Obviously, he must first study the works that discuss yiras ha’onesh, particularly the chapters about Gehinnom and the chibut ha’kever (punishments of the grave) as described in Reishis Chochmah (Shaar HaYirah). In addition, Minchas Yehudah – HaRuchos Mesapros, by the kabbalist HaRav Yehudah Fetaya zt”l – describes in detail what happens to a person in the soul-world after the soul leaves the body. Each person, according to his mental abilities, should envision in his mind what he has read.

The most important thing is that, while one is working to acquire yiras ha’onesh, he should pour out his prayer to Hashem is his own words. For example, he might say, “Master of the world, You have commanded me to fear Your punishments. Why? So that I will not become distant from You, but on the contrary, merit to come close to You. You gave me a brain, and the ability to imagine. Nevertheless, with my present abilities, it is difficult for me to attain yiras ha’onesh. Therefore, Master of the world, I will do my part to do whatever I can to fear You, but I know that I cannot succeed on my own. Therefore, Master of the world, have pity and compassion on me, and plant fear of You in my heart, so that I will always fear You and will not come to sin, and I will have the privilege to always be close to You.”
Each person should elaborate according to his ability to express himself from the depth of his own heart. He should detail all of his innermost feelings, the reason he is striving to attain yiras ha’onesh, and the difficulties that he is encountering. He should then beg for help from Hashem in this. This must all come from a clear recognition that one could toil for a thousand years and still not attain true yiras ha’onesh without Hashem’s help. He must know, understand, and feel that all his avodah depends solely on Hashem’s help. He should pray in this way regarding yiras ha’onesh in general, as well as its application. For example, he might be walking in the street and afraid that he might not properly guard his eyes, chas veshalom. He should preface the situation with a prayer, asking Hashem to give him the proper sense of yirah on the road, so that he will guard his eyes. Likewise, any occasion that calls for yirah should be preceded by a brief prayer. In this way he will pray to acquire yiras ha’onesh in general, and also in any particular situation where he feels he might falter.
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Until this point, we have discussed the fear of Gehinnom. We will now discuss the fear of suffering in this world, such as illness and pain. One should first look at the world around him and see all the ill people – may Hashem have compassion on them. One person might suffer from heart disease (may Hashem protect us from this) and another might have an illness in his legs, and so on. He should then ponder – why do these people have such illnesses? Is it for no reason? It cannot be, because there is no suffering without sin. This may not be apparent within a particular lifetime, but if a person has sinned with a particular organ, he will be punished and suffer in that organ. Therefore, whenever we suffer in any particular limb, we must know that this is the result of something that we have done. Such reflection will instill yirah in the heart.
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In addition, one should imagine applying yiras ha’onesh in a very realistic way. For example, standing near someone else’s possession when no one else is around, he should say (first to himself and later to Hashem), “I seem to have the ability to steal this article, because no one is watching. Why wouldn’t I do such a thing? Because I know that if I steal, I will be punished. If I steal with this hand, it will be punished, whether through a minor or a major injury, or through some disease.”

He should consider such examples with his legs as well, thinking and then saying to himself, “I can go to a certain place, which I know is forbidden to visit, such as a place where people are dressed immodestly (and there is an alternate route). Why don’t I go that way? Because I know that if I do, I will be punished in my legs, chas veshalom.” The same applies to sins through seeing, hearing, and anything else.

One should picture such a situation again and again, in many different ways. Whenever one encounters an ill person, he should use the opportunity to attain yirah. Understandably, this approach is only appropriate while he is focused on yirah. One must always see things from the perspective of the area in which he is working. In addition, it is important that one not fall into the mistaken idea that he knows why someone else is suffering.

This is easier to attain than fear of Gehinnom, because the suffering in Gehinnom is not visible, whereas suffering in this world is clearly seen, and a person does fear it. However, the difficulty is that many people commit terrible sins, and yet, we don’t see them being punished at all. Therefore, a person (either consciously or subconsciously) loses the awareness and feeling that sin causes suffering, because he often sees just the opposite. The truth is that there are sins for which one is punished in this world, and there are sins for which one is punished in the upper world, according to profound Divine considerations. It is therefore difficult to attain real yirah in this manner. Nevertheless, a person should try to acquire yirah through contemplating both the suffering of Gehinnom and suffering in this world, each person according to his ability. Certainly, one must pray greatly for this, as we discussed at length above.

We must now emphasize something else. Just as a person has times when he feels that he is growing spiritually and times when he feels he is falling, so there exist different pathways for each of these times. The pathways for spiritual service for times of growth are awe of Hashem’s greatness, love of Hashem, and the like. The pathway for times of regression is yiras ha’onesh. This is how Hashem made the world. Therefore, each type of avodah is precious to Hashem if performed properly.

Clearly, a time of regression is not the time to start working to acquire yiras ha’onesh, because then one is lax, and it is hard to acquire anything. However, it is the proper time to employ yiras ha’onesh. (In a deeper sense, one must rectify his penimius – the inner soul-level, which is accomplished through love of Hashem and the like, as well as his chitzonius – the external body-level, which is accomplished through yirah.) A person should therefore have true fear of Hashem, because otherwise, his feelings of fear will express themselves with regard to external things, not fear of Hashem and His punishments. One must understand that there is an inherent need to attain yiras ha’onesh, and it is not merely a last resort. But this must be achieved with a clear recognition that such is Hashem’s will, and not just something to be done because one is worried about himself. In that way, he will attain joy together with fear, because he will rejoice that he is able to do Hashem’s will. This is a deeper fulfillment of yirah – “rejoice with trembling,” regarding which Chazal said, “Where there is joy, there must be trembling.” When a person toils and attains yirah for the sake of Heaven, then together with the yirah, he feels glad to be fulfilling the will of his Creator. If so, there is yirah together with joy. The joy comes about through the closeness to Hashem generated by yirah. This is a deep idea that requires careful thought.
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It is written, “Just as a father chastises his son, so Hashem your G-d chastises you.” We see that suffering and punishments should be viewed as part of a father-son relationship, which is a relationship of love. If one enters more deeply into the inner world of yirah, one finds Hashem inside the yirah, and discovers His love for him. In this way, one cleaves to Hashem through the yirah. Yirah, after all, is a positive mitzvah in the Torah, and the word mitzvah is related to the word tzavta (connection). If so, even through yirah, a person can merit becoming attached to his Creator.

Many people are unaware of this, thinking that yiras ha’onesh is nothing but apprehension. They recoil from working on yirah because they don’t want to live in a state of fear. Again, this attitude stems from a lack of an inner awareness as to the nature of yirah, which is really “Where there is joy, there must be trembling.” With this deeper kind of yirah, one attains love of Hashem and deveikus to Him, and there is no place for sadness at all.

If the yirah does not bring a person to love and deveikus, it must be because the person is engaged in an external level of yirah, and he has not entered the inner depths of the world of yirah. Therefore, when a person begins to attain yirah, he should do so with an awareness and desire to thereby attain love, deveikus, and joy. This is the deeper intention behind Chazal’s praise of those who rejoice even when they suffer. That is, the suffering itself leads to love, joy, and deveikus to Hashem.

Harav Shach zt”l once explained that a person is able to have deveikus to Hashem even while he is in Gehinnom. The depth of that comment is the idea explained above. There is no process of growth which allows for any separation from Hashem. Through every single matter, a person can become bound with Hashem. It is clear that a person can and must achieve closeness and deveikus even through yiras ha’onesh. When a person is privileged to appreciate this, he will approach the attainment of yirah with joy, just as he would approach the attainment of the love of Hashem with joy, because essentially they are equal in enabling a person to become close and attached to his Creator. This is what David HaMelech meant when he said “Closeness to Elokim is good for me.” That is, even the name Elokim, which represents Hashem’s attribute of justice, is good for me. Through both attributes, whichever way things go, one can attain closeness and deveikus to Hashem.
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Until this point, we have dealt with yiras ha’onesh, whether in Gehinnom or in this world. But in fact, there are five levels of yirah. 1) Yirah of punishment and suffering, which was explained above. 2) Yirah for one’s honor – when a person is afraid of being embarrassed, as Chazal say, “Each person is singed by his friend’s canopy in Olam Haba”. 3) Yirah of a lack of shleimus – when one recognizes that perfection is deveikus to Hashem, he fears that his sins will prevent him from attaining this deveikus. (These three aspects of yirah are mentioned in Mesillas Yesharim, in the chapter on watchfulness.) 4) Yirah and awe of Hashem’s exaltedness – when performing a mitzvah, he fears that he might not be doing it properly and thus detract from the honor of the King. 5) Yirah of sinning – he always fears that his deeds may diminish the honor of the King of the world. (These last two aspects are described in Mesillas Yesharim in the chapter on fear of sin.)

We will not deal here with fear of losing one’s honor in the World to Come. Most people do not naturally sense the honor granted in the higher world, since it is a perception of the soul. As with yiras ha’onesh, it would be necessary to employ the imaginative faculty to attain this. Since this is difficult for most people, we have not elaborated on it. Some people, however, naturally pursue honor, and it would be easier for them. Others would need to invest a great deal of time in it. It seems that most people in our generation would be best advised to work with yiras ha’onesh and fear of lacking perfection, and not deal with fear of losing one’s honor. Our time in this world is brief, and we have much work to do. It would require too much time for most people in our generation.
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We will therefore now deal with the fear that one should have lest one lack shleimus – deveikus to Hashem – because of his sins. First, we want to remind you that the Ramchal writes, “True shleimus is deveikus to Hashem.” Every sin hinders closeness and deveikus to Hashem. If so, the beginning of a person’s avodah is to understand that shleimus is deveikus to Hashem. After that, he must understand that sinning is a contradiction to deveikus to Hashem and prevents it. He must then yearn greatly for this deveikus. When a person really wants it, he will fear lest that desire not be fulfilled. But as long as there is no strong will for closeness to Hashem, there cannot be the fear of lacking it.
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For example, take a person who leaves his home with the intention of going to the wedding ceremony of a friend. The chupah is called for six o’clock. When he walks toward the bus stop, he sees the bus pulling away. The more he wanted to be at this wedding and the closer he is to his friend, the more upset he will be about missing that bus. The opposite is also true. The weaker his desire to attend that wedding, the less concerned he will be about his not being able to be there on time. The same applies here. The weaker one’s desire to be close and attached to the Creator (if it is only an intellectual decision), the less he will fear sin. There is a fundamental difference between knowledge in the mind and that of the heart. Anyone who studies the Ramchal knows that the purpose of life is closeness to Hashem, and that sin prevents one from reaching this goal. But this might be only intellectual knowledge, which cannot inspire fear. A person’s avodah is to ensure that his heart desires to be close and attached to Hashem. The more this idea penetrates into the heart, the more one will fear sin – which is the very thing that hinders the goal of closeness and deveikus to Hashem.

To further illustrate, there are many people who know that it is very important to study the entire Talmud, yet they waste so much time precisely because this knowledge is only in their minds. It is not their heart’s absolute desire. Their hearts are filled with many other desires. A person must reach a state in which his whole heart will yearn for nothing but closeness and connection to Hashem, to the extent that he will think about this for the major part of the day. He will then try to remove any obstacle, and he will fear sin properly. Hence, there are three stages: 1) A person must know that the whole purpose of life is to be close to Hashem. 2) This knowledge must fill his heart and become his greatest longing. 3) He must know that sin blocks him from this goal.
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These points are not necessarily interdependent. It is possible for a person to have a very great desire to be close and attached to Hashem, and yet not feel that sin contradicts this. The fact that sin prevents closeness to Hashem is not apparent and sensed by all; it is something we must learn and understand. It requires effort to understand that in addition to making one’s primary yearning the attainment of closeness to Hashem, one should feel that sin prevents and contradicts his life’s longing and goal. This itself is a test, for if one were to feel that by sinning he is losing the degree of closeness to Hashem he had attained, it would be easy to avoid sin. Since this is something that does not come naturally, it is clearly Hashem’s will that a person must toil for this as well.
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We will now move on to the avodah of acquiring these ideas. We have already provided the key – that the purpose of life is closeness to Hashem and deveikus to Him. At this point, we will try to describe how a person should strive to acquire this knowledge so that it is always felt in the heart and gradually comes to be the dominant force affecting his emotions.

The avodah of acquiring true desire is the root of everything. When there is a strong and true will, it is said that “nothing stands in the way of the will.” When the will is weak, the entire structure lacks a foundation. A person must therefore strive to truly want to be close to Hashem, and not merely say so outwardly. (This applies to anything one is working on. He must really want to attain it. We are dealing now with the root of all wills, the most inclusive will, which is to be close and attached to Hashem.) This is not to say that one who has not toiled has no desire to be close to Hashem, but that his will is not powerful enough. If one does not truly want, but only would like to want, he lacks the foundation known as ratzon, and the entire structure is weak. Generally, most people get stuck at a certain level because they don’t have a strong will to continue and advance. Therefore, the beginning of a person’s avodah is to ignite the ratzon more and more.
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How can a person strengthen his ratzon? The Zohar likens the body to a dying ember and the soul to a fire: “If the body does not burn brightly with the light of the soul, it must be struck.” In other words, the ratzon is hidden and covered over by the physicality of the body and the control the body has over the soul. The body must be “struck” and purified. But this avodah of fasting and self-affliction is not relevant to most people in our generation, as our sefarim hakedoshim stated already 200 years ago. Therefore, we will not deal with this aspect.

There is another method which was adopted by many tzaddikim during their periods of hisbodedus, solitude. They would cry out and scold themselves for their lack of true ratzon to become close to Hashem. They would scold themselves repeatedly until their hearts would open up somewhat. This is also not simple. First of all, one must know how to do this – to cry out from the inner depth of one’s heart, not from the mind. One also needs inner fortitude, so that he can truly scold himself. One who is not so strong will either not scold himself honestly, or might become dejected and bitter. Certainly, one cannot grow through sadness and self-deprecation.
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For us, the most effective method is for a person to designate a quiet place to speak to Hashem in his own language. For example, he might say, “Master of the world, You know that I want to be close and attached to You. However, my ratzon is too weak. I know that my entire purpose here is to become close and attached to You, and this is dependent on my really wanting it. In my present state of not really wanting it very much, it is impossible for me to attain closeness to You. Please, Master of the world, help me and plant in my heart a true ratzon to be close to You.”

In this fashion, each person should elaborate in his own words, according to the best of his ability, day after day. This method has two great advantages: 1) Speaking in this manner itself inspires true ratzon; 2) since he is praying for it, Hashem will hear his prayer, and help him so that he will really want to be close to Hashem. If a person stubbornly persists in this for a long time, and keeps asking to have the ratzon to be close to Hashem, Hashem will surely help him and he will develop a true ratzon.
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If a person cannot do even this, he must regularly listen to a tzaddik who speaks about this from the sincerity of his soul, and continue to do so until he can inspire himself. Ultimately, however, a person must come to the point where he can inspire himself, because inspiration that comes from the outside cannot last.

We now have three possibilities: 1) A person can inspire himself through self-affliction and fasting, and through scolding himself for not having enough desire to be close to Hashem; 2) He can beg Hashem a great deal each day to help him to truly have proper ratzon; 3) He can hear a tzaddik speak about it, until he becomes inspired.

Each person should choose the method that is most appropriate for himself to awaken his soul to really want to be close to Hashem. As long as there is no true ratzon, the structure of avodas Hashem will be weak. Ratzon is the foundation. If there is true ratzon to be close to Hashem, there is a foundation. If not, chas veshalom, the foundation is lacking, and the whole structure is in jeopardy. One must be very careful with this.
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Let’s give an example. A true servant of Hashem wastes hardly a moment. He is totally involved in Torah, avodah, and acts of kindness. To an outsider, it seems impossible. How can one live with such pressure? The answer is that as long as there isn’t true ratzon, it is pressure, because it goes against a person’s will. But when this is a person’s ratzon, he is fulfilling his will, and there is no feeling of pressure at all.

The beginning of a person’s avodah is to have a true desire, so that the ratzon to be close to Hashem will be true and strong. In fact, according to chasidut, when a person merits entering the inner essence of ratzon, he finds oneg (delight) in fulfilling the ratzon. There are two stages here. At first, he must truly desire this with a strong and true ratzon, even though the ratzon cannot be fulfilled yet due to the fact that he has not yet merited to delight in Hashem. After that, however, he will be able to fulfill the ratzon, which is the pleasure of “delighting in Hashem.” One must first pass through the stage of unfulfilled desire. Then, when he really desires it almost every moment, he will ultimately enter into the inner essence of ratzon, which is to delight in Hashem.
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Once a person has merited a strong ratzon to be close to Hashem, it is possible that true fear of sin will surface within him, because he will fear becoming separated from his Creator.

Earlier, we described the form of this avodah. At first, one must pray often for the privilege to feel this fear and avoid sin. As above, he should involve his senses in the avodah by standing next to another person’s possession and saying (first to himself and then to Hashem), “I could take this object, but I won’t because I wish only to be close to Hashem.” He should employ many practical examples in many different kinds of ways. He should also accustom himself to examine every deed and ponder and then say, “This deed will bring me close to Hashem, but that deed would, chas veshalom, distance me from Him.”

The entire day should proceed in this way. One should always consider and check if the matter at hand will bring him close to Hashem or far from Him. Through thinking about this constantly, the concepts will gradually become fixed in his heart, and his whole life will become a search for ways to be close to Hashem. He will naturally tremble and be afraid of anything that distances him from his Creator. If a person continues to think in this way, he can reach the state where his heart will, for the most part, be gripped by the search for closeness to Hashem.
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Another principle in attaining yirah is that one must be refined and quiet. Speaking loudly contradicts bashfulness and yirah. A person should accustom himself to be refined and act calmly. Haste and boisterous behavior also contradict the attainment of yirah. This is a broad topic.
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Above the level of yirah of lacking perfection (level three) are yirah due to Hashem’s greatness (fourth level) and yirah of sinning (fifth level). To be on these levels, one must sense that he is in the presence of Hashem, but to attain that level, one must first work on the quality of ahavah. This is also the order in Mesillas Yesharim – first comes saintliness and then higher yirah. Therefore, we will now move on to discuss ahavas Hashem.


Section 6 Love of Hashem

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Ahavas Hashem is a positive commandment in the Torah, as it says, “And you shall love Hashem your G-d with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your resources.” We see that everyone is obligated to love Hashem. The pasuk mentions three levels of love: heart, soul, and resources. The mishna in Avos explains that there are two kinds of ahavah, conditional love and unconditional love. Conditional love means that one’s love is a result of receiving something, but when this ceases, the love ceases.

On the other hand, unconditional love is an intrinsic bond. Ahavah has the numerical value of echad. This ahavah stems from an inner unity between the lover and the beloved. Conditional love of Hashem can be found amongst the gentiles, because they are capable of having love and gratitude toward those who benefit them. Unconditional love, of the sort we are discussing, is only present in the Jewish people. This love is unity with the Beloved, and only the Jewish people have unity with Hashem (“Yisrael and Hashem are one”). Therefore, they can have this inner love.

In general, gentiles are only capable of conditional love. The gemara says that if a Jewish person gives a coin to a poor person so that his own son will live, his action is valuable. Even if his son will not live, he will still be glad that he gave the charity. Deep down he really wants to give without receiving anything in return. This is unconditional love. But in the case of a gentile, if his son dies and there is no specific justification for his giving, the love ceases, and he has no interest in giving.

It is clear that when attaining the attribute of ahavah, one must first attain ahavah that is dependent on something, and afterwards, ahavah that is not dependent on anything. The soul of a Jew contains both of these qualities, conditional and unconditional love, and a person must work to bring this latent love into action. First, he must uncover in his soul the conditional love, and then he can reveal the unconditional love. (There are individuals born with unconditional love that is already apparent. They may skip the first stage, since the unconditional love is already revealed and they are able to involve themselves with it immediately.)
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For one to possess even the conditional kind of ahavah, he must recognize from whom he is receiving. If he thinks the item is actually his, the gift will not inspire him to ahavah. If Reuven gives a gift to Shimon, and Shimon thinks that Reuven is just returning something he had borrowed, this will not cause Shimon to love Reuven.

The same is true regarding love toward the Creator. First of all, one must clearly recognize the benefits Hashem has bestowed upon him. Only then will he be able to love His Creator with conditional love. If a person lives without thinking, he will not sense the Creator’s kindnesses, and it will be nearly impossible for him to truly love the Creator, even conditionally. Therefore, a person must first contemplate and recognize the areas of life and the ways in which Hashem bestows kindness upon him.
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A person’s avodah is to understand and to perceive that he himself owns nothing. Every single thing he possesses – everything – comes from Hashem. It is not enough to have the awareness that Hashem has given him many gifts and is very kind to him. He must recognize that every single thing is from Hashem, and that each thing he has is only an expression of Hashem’s kindness.

Take, for example, a person who buys a house. After a number of years, the house goes up in value, and he profits significantly. A person might think simply that Hashem was kind to him by giving him this profit; but that is not enough. A person must consider that the very idea to buy that house was a gift from Hashem. In other words, not only his material acquisitions and pleasures, but every thought and feeling, and every aspect of his body and soul is a gift from Hashem. Every good idea that comes to one’s mind is from Hashem, and so it is with even the smallest details. In the beginning of this avodah, a person should look at the “bigger” things, like money and children. As one progresses, he should see that his entire being, including all his thoughts, feelings, and movements, without exception, are gifts and expressions of kindness from the Creator, blessed be His Name.
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There are two parts to this: 1) negating the notion that one thinks and achieves things by oneself; 2) the positive perception that everything is from Hashem. This is a person’s avodah. By nature, a person rushes through life and doesn’t think at all, so his human nature gives him the sense that he is smart, insightful, knowledgeable, and so on. One must therefore consider each detail: “Where did I get this from? Through my own ability, or from Hashem?”

A person generally thinks he has “help from Hashem.” In other words, he does most of the work, but Hashem helps out. The truth is not like that at all. Even a person’s own efforts come only from Hashem’s power. The good thoughts and the energy to work and acquire things are all gifts from Hashem. The effort known as hishtadlus (necessary personal effort) derives its energy and its associated wisdom and plans from Hashem. Everything, then, is a gift from Him.
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In order to acquire the awareness that everything is from Hashem, a person should sit in a quiet place, and think to himself, “Who gave me my wife? How did I merit her? Did I do this with my own strength and wisdom? Certainly not! Only Hashem gave her to me. All of my wisdom and other capabilities are only from Hashem.” In this manner, he should consider one detail after another. If he lives in a house and is pleased with his acquisition, he should consider, “Who gave me this house? Did I find it with my own wisdom, or was it from Hashem?” He should train himself to review all his possessions and consider one detail after another, for a long period of time, day after day. He should first consider this in his thoughts, and then express it with his mouth. He should begin speaking in the third person – “Hashem gave me.” He should then switch to the second person – “You gave me.” Earlier, we described the methods of speech in the second and third person. He should continue with this process until he understands and feels that things do not come to him through his own power. Even if he employed wisdom and intelligence, those, too, are gifts from Hashem, Who places wisdom and intelligence within the person. A person must have no sense of ego here. He is merely like the guardian of an item, who has nothing of his own. All he has – his body, his money, his thoughts, his speech, his feelings, and more, are from Hashem.
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When a person has the privilege to actually feel these ideas, he reaches the level (expressed by Moshe and Aharon) of “Nachnu mah? (We, what are we?).” He feels that he does not have anything of his own, and everything he has is only from his Creator. This is more than a mere desire to be humble; it is a perception of the truth of existence. Everything belongs to Hashem, and a person is merely the guardian of the wisdom, the money, the children, and whatever else he has.

One must accustom himself to this way of thought time and again, realizing that in all areas of life, he is a guardian over things that really belong to Hashem. The children are not his, but a gift on loan from Hashem. The wisdom is not his, but a deposit. This money is not his, but a deposit. He must not entertain the thought that something is “mine.” Everything belongs to Hashem, and all is from Him. If something is mine, it just means that Hashem gave it to me as a deposit in order to serve Him with it, but nothing more than that.
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When a person feels that everything he has is a gift from the Creator, he should ponder, “Why did Hashem give me these things?” He should answer, “Because He loves me; all these gifts are expressions of His love toward me.” In this way, he should stop and think, and then say, “Master of the world! Who gave me this object? You did! Why did You give it to me? Because You love me.” He should discuss each detail, and mention Hashem’s love each time, until the idea that Hashem loves him is fixed in his heart. One must repeat this patiently thousands and tens of thousands of times, with simplicity, focus, and inner quiet.
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After a person has acquired conditional ahavah in his heart, his avodah is now to acquire the kind of ahavah that is not dependent on anything. We have mentioned that this attribute is already deep within us, because “Yisrael and Hashem are one.” Of course, this is something that can only be perceived by the soul, not by the body. Therefore, the whole essence of this ahavah is a revelation of the inner essence of the Jewish soul. For a person to attain this level of unconditional love in a solid way, and not merely pick up small fragments of it, his whole life must revolve around Hashem. All of his thoughts must be focused on Hashem. He should be totally devoted to thoughts about Hashem’s existence, and his thoughts and inner conversation should be with Hashem, so that He will be the center of his life at all times. In this way, he will experience a revelation of the concept that “Hashem and Yisrael are one.”

But all this can only occur after a person has successfully followed the path we have discussed until this point. His heart will then be pure and clean, and Hashem will dwell within it. Then, his entire being will be attached to Hashem from the depth of his heart. Because he has nullified the thoughts of the vanities of the world, and is totally immersed in thoughts about Hashem, there will be no barrier preventing Hashem from being revealed in his heart.
This is a very broad topic, and what we have touched upon is only a drop in the ocean. We have, however, tried to at least bring a person to a measure of understanding and the ability to seek the path so that he will always live with Hashem; and that he may merit to converse with Hashem with simplicity, and with a feeling that Hashem is with him and actually within him at all times. When a person is privileged to reach this level, he will be able to remember with every breath that he is in the presence of Hashem. Even if he forgets momentarily, he will remind himself immediately. Fortunate is the one who is always closely attached to Hashem, and whose whole way of life is like this.
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The inner path towards unconditional love requires contemplation and speech. One must contemplate well the nature of unconditional love, consider examples in this world, and consider our spiritual underlying essence, until the ideas are fixed well in his mind, and he possesses complete faith that unconditional love exists between Hashem and the Jewish people.

After that, comes the avodah through speech. This is a very precious and wondrous avodah, in which one selects pesukim that mention Hashem’s love toward the Jewish people and their love toward Him. Alternatively, he might select his own words, according to his ability, and repeat a phrase many times, for half an hour, or an hour, or more, each person according to the affinity of his soul. These words must emanate from the heart, not just from the mind, and one must persist with them for a very long time. In this way, his soul will be greatly fired with the love of his Creator.
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This must be done with inner quiet and calm, as well as inner strength. There must be an inner passion, not an outer passion. Outer passion is only excitement, and excitement does not really penetrate the barrier that covers the soul. Only “flashes of fire from the flame of G-d” can burst through the barrier of the heart of stone that prevents the feelings of the soul from being revealed. When this is done with inner quiet and passion, and one persists for a long time without fail, Hashem will surely accept his efforts and remove any foreign barrier that prevents him from actually sensing the unconditional love that is there.

This method is well-known to ovdei Hashem, and is not a new idea. It is also discussed, in part, in the work Yesod VeShoresh HaAvodah. It has been tested and proven many, many times. But success requires a person to be very solid in his avodas Hashem and not prone to fool himself at all.


Section 7 Closeness to Hashem

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After a person has merited that his soul clearly feels the mutual love, both conditional and unconditional, between him and Hashem, his avodah is to reach the inner essence and purpose of avodas Hashem, which is closeness and deveikus to Hashem.
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First of all, a person must fix deeply in his mind a very powerful belief that Hashem is really present in every place. This can come about either through simple contemplation based on an unquestioning faith in the words of Chazal, or, if one’s soul needs it, through studying the inner wisdom of the Torah, which deals with this matter in detail. In any case, every person’s avodah is to fix in his mind with total faith that the absolute truth is that Hashem is present, right near him, at all times. He must repeat a great many times the words of the Rama in the beginning of Orach Chaim, which are taken from the Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim. He should also read the words of the Mesillas Yesharim in the section about Yiras Cheit, and review them literally thousands and tens of thousands of times, and even more, until the concept is firmly fixed in his mind. He should accustom himself during any free time he has, such as when walking in the street or waiting for something, to review this concept that Hashem is present, is right there. While working on this matter, he should not work on anything else. He should accustom himself to remind himself of this upon awakening, when walking, and at all times, until it is fixed in his mind, and he will naturally recall it at very brief intervals.

This avodah must definitely be accomplished both in thought and through speech, saying, “Hashem is present right next to me,” and so on, each person according to his mode of expression. The main thing is to remember at all times, both through words and thought, that Hashem is right nearby. Without this avodah, a person may feel that Hashem is only in the high heavens, while I am on the earth. But this is not at all true. Hashem is everywhere, including next to each person at all times. This avodah will help one remove the erroneous thought that Hashem is only in the heavens.
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After one has merited having his mind fixed on the thought that Hashem is present and close to him at all times, he is ready for an extremely lofty kind of avodah. This entails not living with Hashem as “He” – something hidden – but as “You.” In other words, although a person may believe that Hashem is right nearby, he may nevertheless relate to Him as “He,” as if He is hidden. Certainly this is true in one sense. Hashem said, “No man can see Me and live.” No being has a perception of Hashem, and so He is perceived as being hidden. But our teachers have said, “He is hidden from their intellects, yet revealed in their hearts.” In other words, although He is hidden from the intellect of all beings, and He cannot be grasped mentally in any way, He is revealed in the hearts of the Jewish people, as it says, “Hashem is the Rock of my heart and my portion.” In the heart, one can feel that he is relating directly to Hashem. This is the depth of the inner essence of a person’s avodah here in this world – to live with Hashem, relating directly to Him at all times.
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One must first internalize in his heart and mind that this is the true inner life. As the Vilna Gaon writes in the beginning of Orach Chaim, “This awareness is the entire greatness of the tzaddikim.” One must fix in his mind and heart the basic concept that the whole purpose of our involvement in Torah study and fulfilling mitzvos, with all their details and minutiae, and the purpose of every spiritual and material endeavor, is only for this end. The goal is to bring a person to a way of life in which he lives with Hashem, relating to Him directly, literally each moment.
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Once it is clear to a person that this is the true inner life, he must train his thoughts and language to speak to Hashem in the second person (“You”) at every opportunity, on awakening, when walking, and so on. During anything he does, he should communicate with Hashem, saying, “You,” and ask for His help. This is not primarily for the sake of fulfilling the mitzvah of prayer, but mainly, in order to get used to saying “You” to Hashem at all times. Prayer is a means of achieving a direct connection with Hashem in the second person.
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Besides praying, one must accustom himself to say things like, “You, Hashem, are with me,” “You are near me,” “I am not alone here, because You are with me” (“Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for You are with me”). He should employ various different phrases appropriate for the occasion. What the statements will have in common is that they will enable him to focus on the fact that Hashem is present. He must do this many times, both during brief free moments and during designated times. This must continue for a very long period, for months and for years. In this way, he will break through the barrier that blocks the Creator from him, and he will feel at all times that Hashem is with him. His life will be focused on this idea, and every action will be directed toward this reality.

This avodah should not be separate from one’s other acts of avodas Hashem, whether they are Torah, prayer, or acts of kindness. One should understand that the purpose of everything is the awareness of Hashem’s presence nearby, and he will always cleave to this direct relationship, never ignoring it for a moment. He will continue in this manner throughout his entire life, until his day of death, and merit being attached and “bound in the bond of life” – in other words, with Hashem – both in this world and in the next. He will be able to testify about himself, “All my days, I was tied with a single bond to Hashem.” He will be a person totally attached to the Living G-d, the life-source of all worlds.

Beyond all this is the higher aspect of integration in the Infinite, of which it says, “I speak to him mouth to mouth,” but the meaning of this pasuk cannot be written.

One should know that this avodah is not as difficult as it may seem at first. It is a matter of habit. If one will just accustom himself to follow our instructions with simplicity and consistency, he will definitely earn the privilege to live this way.


Section 8 Integrating with Hashem

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Once a person has really attained the feeling that Hashem is right near him, his avodah is to attain hiskalelus in the Infinite, as it says, “I am His.” (A deeper form of this avodah is to cause all the creations to be miskalel in Him.) In a general sense, this avodah has three phases.
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The first phase is the perception from deep in the soul that the created being is, so to speak, part of Hashem, as it says, “For Hashem’s portion is His nation.” Chazal have also said, “Hashem and Yisrael are one” and, “The creation is like a snail whose shell is part of its body.” There are many other statements of this nature, all of which point to the depth of this concept that the creation is, so to speak, part of Him, blessed be His name.

Although many great people have tried to explain the depth of this concept by employing various different terms, ultimately, it is all a secret, and it is beyond the grasp of a created being. (Just as the Infinite cannot be grasped, so can one not grasp that which is a part thereof, so to speak. Think deeply about this. This should be adequate for one with understanding.) Therefore, the way to attach oneself to this extent is not through intellectual understanding and mental clarification, but through total faith in Hashem and the words of Chazal. When one attaches his thought to this concept very often (without attempting to understand, but just with simple faith in the concept), and articulates it with his mouth, so that this concept is regularly on his mind and tongue, he will merit to be integrated at this level, and will feel that he is part of Hashem, so to speak.

I must repeat and warn that you may not try to understand this intellectually, because it cannot be understood at all. “If your heart runs” – in order to understand this – “return to your place.” This affirms the need for simple faith in the concept, until it is sensed through the feelings of the heart, not through rational thought.
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The second phase, which is higher than the first, concerns one’s removing all thought about his sense of self. During the first phase, a person is involved with his I, but he doesn’t deal with it as something separate – “There is me and there is the Creator, and I am close and attached to the Creator.” Rather he feels “I am part of Him, so to speak.” There is an involvement with the self, but this is a self that is part of Hashem, so to speak. In the second phase, there is no involvement at all with the self (other than the extent to which the Torah requires it), but only with Hashem. Any time a person begins to think about himself, whether about a positive or negative quality he possesses, whether of greatness or lowliness, he should take his mind off the matter, and return to connect his thoughts to Hashem. He should only deal with the self as required to fulfill the Torah and make a daily spiritual accounting for a specific period of time. Other than that, he should not deal with the self at all, but only with his Creator.
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In a deeper sense, ignoring the self includes ignoring all created beings, because they are a large manifestation of the self (since the world is a microcosm). Rather, one will be involved only with the Creator. He will think of the created beings only as needed in order to do acts of kindness and such. In this stage, a person is not attentive to his I. Rather, the essence of his soul is absorbed with Hashem. Through regularly shifting his thoughts from the creations to Hashem, and not thinking about them, but about Hashem, one escapes from attachment to the created world in general and to the self in particular, and has the privilege to be integrated with Hashem.

This level is higher than deveikus, because with deveikus, there is an I that cleaves to Hashem. But on this level, one is not involved with the I, but only with Hashem. This is hiskalelus. Material things exist based on the perception of man, the recipient of Hashem’s kindness. When the recipient is not involved with a thing, it is as if it does not exist. When a person removes his thoughts from the self and thinks only of the Creator, there is no self. Understand this, for these words are very, very deep.
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This second phase has two parts: 1) contemplating the greatness of the Creator, His actions, and so on; 2) thinking about His essence. Here, there can be no contemplation, but only simple thought about the existence of the Creator. This is a higher level than the first. When a person attaches his thoughts in this manner constantly, the principle that a person is wherever his thoughts are may be applied. He is absorbed in the object of his thought. When he thinks only of the existence of the Creator, he is, so to speak, actually integrated in Him. This discussion should suffice for one who understands. You should realize that this state requires one to divest himself of complex thought and become united with Hashem.
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The third phase is an attachment to the concept of, “There is literally nothing other than Him,” which the sefarim hakedoshim discuss. Study their words, which will suffice for one who understands. All our words about being miskalel in Hashem have been written with extreme brevity. The outstanding ones in the generation who seek total perfection will need a longer and more detailed explanation. We have only come to expose a spark of this great light, as Chazal said, “The Master of the palace looked at him.” This comment will suffice for one who understands.

Finished, but not complete.
If Hashem will give us the opportunity,
we will continue to expand upon these topics.