Monday, May 12, 2008
One Cannot Know Hashem Until He First Knows Himself
My rendition of some words from my rebbe:
Rav Kook said, "'אם אין 'אני', אין 'הוא', ואם אין 'הוא', אין 'אתה." "If there is no "I," there can be no 'He.' And if there is no 'He,' then there is no 'You.'"
Pronouns like "You" and "He" imply a relationship between the one who is speaking and the one being referred to by the pronoun. If I do not know who "I" am, then it is meaningless to talk about "him" or talk to "You." When I say "Baruch Atah Hashem" in a bracha, Rav Kook is saying that it is senseless to say "You" to Hashem when I don't even know who the "I" is who is supposedly talking to Hashem!
We know from many places, including the Ramchal, and methodologically guided by the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh seforim, that our avodah in this world is to be misdaveik, cleave ourselves to the Master of the World. However, If my whole avodas Hashem is just a collection of imitations of others, doing things that I've seen in seforim or aspects of avodas Hashem that I've read about which were shiach to big Tzadikim, but none of what I've done has been ME doing it for the sake of who I am, then it was never me who connected to Hashem. It was someone else.
If there is no "I," there can be no "You" in my "Baruch Atah Hashem."
The ultimate goal is indeed to connect to Hashem. But as I've written about before, until one knows himself, he won't have anyone to whom to connect Hashem to. So the pre-requisite avodah for many of us should be (in addition to our regular avodas Hashem, which should of course not be suspended) attaining self knowledge.
This is because when we can finally uncover our neshoma, our soul, we will know ourselves. And when we open the door to our own soul, inside of it we will find the "nishmas kol haneshamos," the Soul of all souls, Hakadosh Baruch Hu, the Holy One.
My rebbe highly recommends the sefer by the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh author, "Da Es Atzmecha," "Know Yourself." He says that one could learn thousands of seforim and never find any guide to this pre-requisite avoda of self-knowledge which is as clear and simple as this sefer. (I think he's saying that from un-exaggerated personal experience!) He told the author that Klal Yisroel has been waitinf for this sefer since Ma'amad Har Sinai. He also recommends starting with chelek beis, the second half of the sefer, before going on to the first chelek.
IY"H, I think this needs to be a priority.
(Picture courtesy of pro.corbis.com)
Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.