Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Which Is First? Self Nulification or Self Knowledge?


Here's what I wrote in response to a post at A Simple Jew, entitled: The Moment Your "I" Disappears. Any thoughts?

Everything you're saying is true.

With that said, you cannot be mevatel your "I" to G-d before you even know who that "I" is that you are being mevatel.

I came to this realization when trying to understand something that Rav Itamar Shwartz, shlita, wrote at the End of Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, Vol. 2. He wrote there, in the context of making everything that you do "Lishma," i.e. for the sake of giving nachas ruach to Hashem, that one first must clarify to himself why he is doing everything, and only then can he begin to work on being mevatel all of the other reasons and only doing things for the sake of giving nachas ruach to Hashem.

I wondered why this is. If the whole purpose is to rid one's self of all of the external "I's" reasons for doing things, then why not just immediately begin working on davening and working on serving Hashem for Hashem's sake.

The reason, ostensibly, is that until I understand all of the personal reasons why I do various mitzvos, I can't work on being mevatel them. Until I understand what it is that I must rid myself of, I can't target and eliminate those aspects of "myself."

Although you are right that total bitul is the ideal, the vast majority of us will not reach that goal if we skip the necessary pre-condition, which is understanding the self that we are to be mevatel.

-Dixie Yid


(Picture courtesy of kybele.psych.cornell.edu)

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well said Dixie Yid!

I would like to expand this a bit.

When Hashem says to Moshe Ekya asher ekya, chazal understand this as the transition of an undifferentiated infinite world to one that has, from our vantage point, many pratim to a once again unified whole encompassing that from the previous stages.

As we know one who grows to a new madreiga does not lose the understanding of the previous madreiga he transcends.

Just like we are taught by yetzias mitzrayim that Hashem takes us out and shows us how to return through the makos and neisim then give us the opportunity to grow ourselves, We see this phenomena ingrained in the brios in our personal lives as a child growing through adulthood and raising our own and the collective growth of clal Yisrael.

In learning we constantly ask ourself, self? where am I? what is the starting point? of this gemora? of this case? in my life?

Just like hakadosh baruch hu asked Adam, ayeka!

I can only begin to grow when I know where I am with all my Kochos, tools, personal baggage, hang ups, deficiency's, opportunities for growth, in relation my nature, nurture, my parents and what they knew to raise me, the culture, experiences of the clal.
I can look at the beauty of this and how Hashem designed this for me, to be aware, present, and to grow.

I thought of a mushel today: When I walk with my 2 feet along the way, if one of my legs become injured I will brace it, hold it close to me give it comfort and listen to what it is telling me and in the process I may end up turning right or left like when my alignment goes in my car, if it's severe enough I could end up walking around in circles until I become present, (this to is a chesed) and pick up right where I left off but with the knowledge of being stuck in the circle.

Please Hashem give us the koach, clarity, presence, support, tools to know where we stand, to know where to go and to sing and dance our way home!

Spiritual Adventurer

DixieYid said...

Spiritual Adventurer,

What you said about knowing your own kochos is so true. A person can't use his kochos to serve Hashem, nor can he strategize to overcome his deficiencies if he has not even spent the time to think about what those kochos and deficiencies really are!

-Dixie Yid