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).

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Not Being By Being

Dear Readers,

Please accept my apologies to those of you who asked me to shed some light on the latest "Rebbe Quotes" post. Here is a little background as to what that quote was referring to. (The Rebbe spoke about this about six years ago on a Shabbos afternoon shiur.)

Every neshamah longs to reconnect with Hashem, its Source. At times, and hopefully those times are often, a person can experience an intense yearning to return to whence it came, to be enveloped in G-dly light and ultimately to melt back into Hashem, completely one with the Creator.

Now, were this to happen, the person would no longer exist, not in a physical body and not even the neshamah itself would survive, as is written, "No person can see Me and remain alive." Be that as it may, as a flame to its source, we are compelled to grow closer and closer, to yearn more and more, until the corporeal body can no longer contain the longing. At that point the opposite of what we were hoping for occurs. Hashem pushes us back into a physical and mundane existence. He distances us from Him. He does that because there is a purpose to living in a physical world and as detached entities from Him and His Oneness. By living in a body in this world, we can sanctify those places that are devoid of Hashem's revelation. Through our interaction with the world, we bring knowledge of Hashem to places where there was none previously, slowly transforming the darkness into light. By struggling with the confines of the physical, with doubt and worry and all the other symptoms of this world, we sanctify Hashem's Name. That is something that never could happen if Hashem would let us melt back into Him.

That is the nature of our existence in this world - always torn between coming closer and being pulled or pushed back (however you want to look at it). This is the concept of והחיות רצוא ושוב - v'hachayos ratzo v'shov, ebb and flow.

Now, while we are certainly meant to strive to reconnect, we are not given the option of completely surrendering our very existence to Hashem. Would that we could, but it was not Hashem's intention that we cease to exist. We are commanded to live in a body and perform mitzvos to the best of our ability until such time as Hashem decides we have had enough (until 120!).

So, the only way we can really give ourselves over to Hashem is by the abnegation of our own desire to be swallowed up in Him. We must experience that longing and try to get there. But we must then take a step back, embrace the limitations Hashem has placed upon us, and commit ourselves to fulfilling His Will - performing the mitzvos in their physical manifestations.

If I can't not be by not being, then I will not be by being.

Okay, Hashem. I get it. You don't want me to disappear into Your light. You are keeping me at a distance. Fine. If I can't cease to exist in that manner, by not being, then I will nullify myself and my own "selfish" longing by accepting Your Will and fulfilling Your mitzvos as You see fit - by being. The ultimate bittul of self is living a life in this world of Torah and mitzvos.

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