Wednesday nights - Rav Benzion's Tanya shiur..........Please continue to daven for the good health of the Rebbe (Yechiel Michel ben Devorah Leah) and Rebbetzin (Feiga bas Sarah).

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Elul is Do-It-Yourself Month

Last week's Drops of Rain was very apropos for Elul. The piece revolved around the necessity to know if one is for real or not. The only way to know for sure is to be tested. While the whole piece is very important, available in its entirety here, it is specifically the last paragraph that spoke directly to the avodah of Elul:

"The month of Elul is upon us; in the blink of an eye we will be standing before the King of Kings on Rosh Hashanah. We never ask Hashem for nisyonos; we would much rather our faith and commitment not be tested. But we need not wait to be up against a wall to find out if we really mean it. We can and must ask ourselves if we are for real. If we were to be tested, how far would our current convictions take us, and how can we recommit to the values and creed of authentic Jewish living? Would that we could stand in front the Master of the World over the upcoming Days of Awe and be able to say with absolute assurance, to ourselves, our loved ones and the Almighty, 'I am for real.'"

In conjunction with the above idea, we bring to your attention something that the Rebbe said a number of years ago. Integrity means what the Gemara refers to as tocho k'varo, that one's inside should be like his outside. In other words, what he portrays outwardly, in his actions and behavior, must reflect where is at on the inside. The holy texts (Maor Einayim and Pele Yoetz among them) are replete with the idea that when we daven, we must "connect" our hearts and our lips, that the words that we speak should be coming from our authentic selves and not just "from the lips out". There are many such instances when our pnimiyus might not be in line with our chitzoniyus.

It isn't easy, said the Rebbe. The head and heart act as strangers; the distance between them is sometimes like from one end of the earth to the other, and it is very difficult to be genuinely moved till the point that an outwardly expression should truly be coming from your essence, from the real you. Especially during the days of Elul when one is expected to return to the Almighty and do teshuvah, what can a person do to be moved in the depths of his heart to change for real? We entertain the idea of doing different, of being different, but it is rare that even a fraction of all the good intentions and resolutions, dreams and aspirations leave any imprint on our actualized self. Let no one doubt that when we think all of those things we are for real for we most surely are. But there is a disconnect, a divide, between our thoughts and our actions; it is called arlas halev, the foreskin of the heart.

The Rebbe, shlit"a, said, "The way to break open the shell that surrounds our hearts is to stop and contemplate the following. What am I? What is my life? And what does the Creator want from me?"

It sounds simple; it sounds terrifying. It requires the nerve and humility to admit that that might be all it takes. But sitting down in a quite place and asking oneself these fundamental questions that shoot to the very core of one's existence is something that may be powerful enough to make a little crack in the heart's casing.

Elul is Do-It-Yourself Month; we must take action and reach deep within us to re-confront the basics. What am I? What does Hashem want from me? Am I for real? Do I really believe in what I am doing? Of course we all believe. Its just a matter of getting in touch with that preexisting authenticity that is natural to every one of us. Asking ourselves will help open us up to that reality. Do whatever it takes to take the time.

"As the dawn broke unto the day, I rose and made my way,
To a quite place far away from the din and roar,
A tranquil little nook, beside a little brook,
Where my soul felt reborn and restored.
There I could reflect, my world to perfect,
There my heart soared aloft, there it came alive,
A paradise of green, I could ponder there my dream,
And ask the questions about the meaning of life..."

The above quote is from the Rebbe's nigun, "Im Lo Achshav Eimosai". DOWNLOAD or click the "play" button below to hear the ballad in its entirety.

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