Monday, February 11, 2008

Acquiring Independent Love of Hashem

As I discussed in a previous post, Rav Shwartz in Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh teaches us that acquiring even dependant love of Hashem is a high level that we must strive for, and that this is a necessary prerequesite to attaining independent love of Hashem.

As I related, dependent love of Hashem is acquired by recognizing that everything that happens to us is good, whether it be the "good" or the "bad" things. He said that one can accomplish this by either by believing that even the "bad" things have some hidden good which will be revealed later, or by the higher level of realizing that we have no hasagah, no conception, of what is truly good, whether it be in the "good" things, much less the "bad" things. And this realization will help a person let go of his expectation to understand in what way Hashem's treatment of him is good. One then uses his daily practice of talking to Hashem throughout the day to use his recognition of the good Hashem does to him as a way of acquiring a love for the One who bestowed that good.

But at this high level, how can this be called dependent love of Hashem? Since the person recognizes that no matter what Hashem does to him, it is good, it seems that that love is not dependant on what Hashem dishes out to him! What could be higher than this?! So Rav Shwartz explains that once one has used the recognition of Hashem's goodness towards him to attain Ahavas Hashem, he is ready to work on the next level, attaining Independent love of Hashem. so what is that?

The person's neshama, soul, is a chelek Elokah Mi'ma'al, a "part" of G-d above. The Baal Hatanya says at the beginning of the second perek of Tanya: "ונפש השנית בישראל היא חלק אלוה ממעל ממש כמ"ש ויפח באפיו נשמת חיים ואתה נפחת בי וכמ"ש בזוהר מאן דנפח מתוכיה נפח פי' מתוכיותו ומפנימיותו." "The second soul in a Jewish person is a literal 'piece' of G-d above. As it says, 'And He blew into his nostrils the breath of life.' And as it says in the Zohar, 'When one blows, he blows from within himself.' Meaning: From that which is within him and his inner [essence]."

And it is also true that the Zohar says, "קב"ה ואורייתא וישראל חד היא," Hashem, the Torah, and the Jewish people are one." Therefore, the only way to truly love Hashem in a way that does not depend on anything in the world, and thinking about or evaluating whether it is good or bad, is by uncovering, revealing, and connecting to one's own Neshama. It is by recognizing that I am my Neshama, not my guf, my body, or my desires or anything else. But that the real me is "my" neshama. For more on this, see Rav Shwartz's recent series of shiurim and the book based on them, Da Es Atzmecha, which I posted about here.

Once I learn to truly know myself, to connect to my neshama, then I will have revealed that part of me that is already one with Hashem. And when I am conscious of the fact that I am one with Hashem, then mimeila, automatically, I will attain a love of Hashem that is independent, an ahava "שאינה תלויה בדבר", that does not depend on anything. One cannot help but love himself, it is built into our self-definition.

It's a tall order, but as Rav Shwarzt writes about in Bilvavi, with steady work over a period of time, you and I can attain Ahavas Hashem.

-Dixie Yid

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Anonymous said...

That is a high level to attain but seems very attainable with right amounts of hitbonenut and hitbodedut. This concept of connecting to your inner essence also work ben adam l'chaveiro (Tanya ch:32) By understanding every yid is apart of you and that piece of nefesh elokai mimal is perfect and unable to be ruined in any way can bring total shalom al yisroel..bimheira biyameinu.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Shkoyach for the comment. Couldn't agree more. And yes, now that I remebber perek Lev (32), I recall what you're saying. I suppose connecting to one's own neshama is really a key to accomplishing much of what we must do.

-Dixie Yid