Thursday, January 24, 2008
Why Serving Hashem is Not Like Fulfilling Other Ta'avos/Desires
I opened up the Meor Einayim on Parshas Yisro and right at the beginning of the parsha (SLAM!) he hits me with a powerful yesod that goes to the essence of the difficulty in keeping up my resolve in avodas Hashem.
He asked what the big secret of "Na'aseh v'nishma," "We will do and we will hear," is, such that the Midrash says about it, "The angels asked, 'who revealed this secret, which is used by ministering angels?'"
He said that the way Hashem made the world is that first we must do tircha (toil) and avoda (work) in avodas Hashem. The next step after that is the pleasure of the Divine light from that avodas Hashem. He says that if we felt the true ta'anug from avodas Hashem while we were doing those mitzovs and abstaining from those aveiros, then we would serve Hashem to fulfill a ta'ava, a desire, just like we try to fulfill any other ta'ava.
However, after one does the avodas Hashem for a while, he does receve the ta'anug, the pleasure, from that avodas Hashem even in this life. That is what is called, "Olam Haboh," the "Coming World." It is called that because it refers to our worldy pleasure from serving Hashem. That pleasure is continually "coming" to us after a period of serving Hashem without that feeling of pleasure. In contrast, "Asid Lavoh," the "Future world" refers to the pleasures of the next world, as distinguished from the Divine pleasure that we can feel in this world.
This seems to me to be the hardest part of keeping up my resolve in growing in avodas Hashem. There seems to be such a lag time between the investment and the results! And I feel from reading this piece in the Meor Einayim that just when I usually give up is the moment right before I'm about to scale the crest of that mountain.
We have to be mechazeik ourselves not to give up during the "dry period" before the Divine pleasure from our avodas Hashem kicks in. But rather, we must know that it is coming, and that the fact that the gratification is not instant is what makes avodas Hashem into actual service of Hashem, rather than merely a way of serving ourselves.
(Picture courtesy of loc.gov)
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