Monday, October 8, 2007

Higher Levels of Yirah & Clarification of "The Biggest Chiddush"

I was learning Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh vol. 2 (Chapter 16 and Bilvavi Vol. 4, chapter 1), and I think that his explanation of the 5 types of Yirah, as outlined in the Mesilas Yesharim, shed some more light on his statement that if one isn't consciously Daveik to Hashem in this world, he will not truly be Daveik to Hashem in the next world (that we have discussed earlier here and here).

He explains the difference between the two highest levels of Yirah, Yiras Haromemus and Yiras Chait. He says that Yiras Haromemus is greater than the three lower levels of Yirah because it is focused on fear of doing anything wrong against Hashem, whereas the three lower levels all focused on different levels of fear centering around one's self. However, Yiras Haromemus means that the person is only Daveik to Hashem when he is learning or doing Mitzvos, but not when he is doing divrei reshus. I have come to the understanding that when Rav Shwartz is speaking about being Daveik to Hashem, Deveikus here means a constant consciousness of Hashem's immediate presence. When the person who has attained Yiras Haromemus is davening, doing a mitzvah, or learning, he feels the immediate presence of Hashem. This consciousness automatically results in a fear of doing anything to wrong Hashem. This is the level of Yiras Haromemus.

On the other hand, Yiras Cheit is the constant awareness of Hashem's immediate presence, even when doing "divrei reshus," mundane things. In this context of this explanation, though, I think that I have gotten more of a handle of how the Bilvavi seforim define Deveikus. It is not necessarily an emotional feeling (serenity, pleasure, fear, excitation, etc.), but rather it is a constant consciousness of Hashem's immediate presence.

He says that if one does not have know this experience of constant awareness of Hashem's immediate presence, then he will be at a loss when the time for reward comes. When all of the other Tzaddikim are sitting and enjoying the radiance of the Divine Presence while pointing, k'vayachol, at Hashem and saying, "This is the G-d that we have hoped for!", this person will not know what to make of the whole situation (Brachos 17a: צדיקים יושבין ועטרותיהם בראשיהם ונהנים מזיו השכינה... זה ה' קוינו לו".) Since he has no personal experience with the Divine Presence (though he's lived a life of Torah and Mitzvos) he will have the experience of not really being sure that the G-d that everyone is "pointing" at is really the G-d he's been hoping for. Hashem will be somewhat of a stranger to him. (Although he will be rewarded for every mitzvah and every word of Torah, this will still be his experience when it comes to Hano'oh mi'ziv Hashechina.)

May this deeper understanding of the meaning of Deveikus with Hashem and this sober understanding of what our foucus and goal should be in life, may we be zocheh to attain the Deveikus with Hashem that Rav Shwartz describes!

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of"Dion")


yitz.. said...

@DY, with great respect, i beg you to reconsider.

When you say that dveikut, in the language of Rav Schwartz, is simply constant awareness of HaShem's existence.

What I hear is that dveikut is to constantly _remember_ that HaShem is present.

Perhaps that isn't what you are saying, but if it is, then I think it makes more sense to say this is a preliminary placeholder for what Rav Schwartz is really referring to; an attainable first step.

Why? because otherwise you seem to be (chas v' chalilah) selling dveikut (& Rav Schwartz) short.. and i'm not willing to be satisfied for any awareness that remains simply on the level of memory/knowledge.

Dveikut has deeper levels beyond the intellectual, levels that can be felt.

[For a simple example, when I used to be in kollel, and I'd be learning something and the learning was really flowing, I knew there were a minyan of people in the beit midrash.. if I felt a sudden change (for the worse) in my learning, it was because someone had left the room and there was no minyan. Whenever I was learning with a minyan there were recognizable changes in my ability to absorb and connect to Torah.

I'm no different than the average Jew. If I could feel a palpable difference like that, then someone who works constantly at dveikut and closeness with HaShem must be able to attain much more than that.]

Having said all that, I haven't learned any of the Bilvavi sefarim yet. :)

DixieYid said...

First I want to make two clarifications. One is that I didn't say that Deveikus is just "knowing that Hashem is constantly present." I said "conscious" and "aware." Of course it is easy and every religous Jew knows of the fact that Hashem is constantly there. What I am relating is something far deeper and more difficult. It is the constant "awareness" of His presence. It is "feeling" that Hashem is *immmediately* present. This level means that to the same extent that you are aware of his presence when you're rebbe is right in front of you, you are aware that Hashem is right there with you, and hopefully this level of awareness/consciousness should be present all of the time.

This is not something which is easy, or commonly attained. In fact, he relates that it is only present to varying degrees in the top 2 of the 5 levels of Yira. And he also points out that halevai we should all even attain the lowest level of Yira, yiras ha'onesh. So I wouldn't put down this definition of deveikus! Constantly feeling that Hashem is before one's self is a true attainment of Shivisi Hashem l'negdi samid! That is HUGE!

Also, I don't know if you're such a pashuteh Yid if you can feel the differnece between the presence and absence of hashra'as haShechina when 9 people are learning together versus 10. I certainly can't feel a difference like that! It sounds like, at least some of the time, you are attaining the type of deveikus that the author is referring to.

I'm not saying that in other contexts, it may not mean more than that as well. But remember, I'm addressing this question in the context of Rav Shwartz's explanation that if one doesn't attain a conscious state of Deveikus in this world, he will not enjoy it in the next world either, since it's all one continum. You don't want to over-exaggerate the elevation of the state called Deveikus more than the already high level that I have tried to clarify. It would make it seem too unattainable. If you consider a constant state of feeling Hashem's presence as a low-ish state, then L-rd help us!

Hope that helps. And I hope you had an uplifting Sukkos (which I know you did from your recent posts)!

-Dixie Yid