Every aspiring עבד ה' appreciates the significance of the adage “קנה לך חבר”, and the terribly painful loneliness of או חברותא או מתותא. For years, I have desired to form a chaburah of individuals whose attempt to guide their life at achieve both יראת שמים and קרבת אלוקים. As members of such a chaburah, I hoped that together we could develop profound thoughts concerning avodas Hashem, both its theoretical as well as its practical elements. We would assist each other in developing the unique ideas and approaches of each member.

Over the years and in different stages of my life, I was fortunate enough to meet such individuals. With current technology, we are attempting to form this chaburah, despite the geographical distance that may separate us. We would like to invite others with whom our ideas may resonate to join us by reading, commenting, and ultimately sharing your thoughts with us. קנה לך חבר, says the Arizal, means that your pen (קנה) should be your friend – as you write, your thoughts become clearer.

The exact parameters of this blog will be defined as we develop our ideas. All entries are guided by five principles:

a) יראת שמים

b) desire for קרבת אלוקים and becoming a better עבד ה'

c) strict adherence to Halacha, including הלכות לשון הרע

d) belief in גדלות האדם, both in oneself and all other people

e) intellectual rigor
Anyone who does not feel passionately about these five principles is asked not to comment, since any comment that does not meet the above-mentioned criteria will not be posted.

About the name of the blog. “השגה” represents the intellectual grasp of any given idea, while “הויה” represents the incorporation of that idea into the person’s weltanschauung. Our goal is to merely discuss theoretical ideas and then return to our daily lives. We want to transform the ideas of the Torah into a living Torah, a תורת חיים.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Thoughts on Avodas Hashem

It is so easy to lose direction. Totally and absolutely lose our way. A little loss of focus leads to a millimeter-worth of richuk, completely unobservable to a naked eye, only discernible to the most sensitive and most focused individuals. Then another millimeter, and then a whole centimeter. Before a person knows it, he finds himself so far away. The changes are first pnimi. B’chetzonius, very little, if any, change can be perceived. The rot starts in the most hidden recesses of an eved’s being.
It starts with thoughts. A thought enters the mind, an inappropriate thought. Not necessarily an issur, but not a thought that in any way leads to avodas Hashem. It’s an interruption, nevertheless. A fleeting thought is not per se the end of the world. Doesn’t the Gemara tell us that bad thoughts simply can’t be escaped. Granted, long term, as a person works on himself, the nature, frequency, and intensity of these thoughts changes, but on the micro level, they can’t be escaped. The question is what is done with this thought. The problem is the holding on to the thought, engaging in the thought, cherishing the thought, expanding the thought, saving the thought for a later time. The thought begins to grow, gain power and momentum, and in the most inopportune time it comes to us, disturbing the most powerful elements of our avodas Hashem.
At this point, we have already let it go to far. We must use all of the tools that our Sages have provided for us in order to “abort” this process before it proceeds too far. If we do this early enough, little damage is done, and we will have actually grown from this stealthy attack of our yetzer.
Unfortunately, we sometimes let it go. We have this gnawing feeling that things are not b’seder, but we are too caught up with all kinds of engagements, maybe even good engagements. Rav Tzadok begins Resisei Layla defining this world as a place of hiluch, a place of tirda, with only death bringing rest. Nach nafshei.
We forget that lo b’raash Hu, but in a kol dmama v’daka. In that nekuda pnimis without which, as the Gerer Rebbi said, the Satan is ok with all of our Torah and mitzvos. Without this kol, kol hayotze from Har Chorev that is so hard to hear, we along with our Torah and mitzvos are pgarim meisim, ch”v. We feel like the state described in Orot Hatshuva 3, in an arid desert, in chains. Our feelings are crude, our thoughts lowly. We know that Hashem is not within us – which is the greatest chet of all. We don’t even have the koach to cry out – it somehow gets stuck in our throats. Even crying is denied to us. This is our 9th of Av, an absolute churban of ruchniyus of our Judaism, which leads to the inevitable crumbling of the gashmiyus of our Judaism.
We praise Hashem as a mechayei meisim. We are these corpses, and our bones are very dry. We are the ones who ask hopelessly, cynically, “Can these bones possibly live?” It takes tchiyas hameisim, the keys of which have been given to no man, to bring us back to life, to real life of v’atem hadveikim kulchem chayim hayom. We dream for our Elul, thirst for our Rosh Hashana, envisage our Yom Kippur, dream to sit in the bitachon safety of our sukah. The fire of our Chanukah will light up the darkness, and the simcha of Purim will show the true meaning of ein simcha k’hataras hasfeikos. Then comes cheirus, the cheirus of Pesach, Alma Decherusa, Alma Detshuvah. Then, and only then, we finally find our chelek in Torah, our personal chelek. His Torah, our Torah – Toras Hashem and Toraso. We still pray for the dry bones to live…

1 comment:

  1. It is so that the way to arrive at kol dmama daka is by “aborting” the process of thought-intrusion? It seems to me that the approach ought to be exerting control over one’s internal system such that when a thought or feeling of the kind you mentioned passes before his radar screen, he can act from an anchored and centered place of self/neshama, acknowledge the invader, and ask it to continue on its way. To negate it would only cause it to feel relegated to the cellar of his consciousness, where it would scheme a way to break into consciousness once again, this time with even greater force. The alternative, I am suggesting, is to remain connected through the lifeline that links the neshama with Avinu Shebashamayim, and from this place to act as the CEO of one’s inner world, directing traffic, as it were, so as not to slip from that precious inner state of kurva that we all crave.
    Against this backdrop, the sense of richuk that characterizes this time is all that more painful…. the severing of our soul from its source of life, source of true happiness….