Friday, February 27, 2009

Kol Brisk on Parshas Teruma - Guest Post - Making Ourselves Vessels for the Divine

לעלוי נשמת הגאון הר"ר אהרן בן הר"ר משה הלוי סאלאווייציק זצ"ל
Parashas Terumah

ויעש לבית חלוני שקפים אטמים (הפטרה)
רש"י: רבותינו פירשו שקופים לשון ראיה ופתיחה והשקפה, פתוחים מבחוץ ואטומים מבפנים. שלא כדרך שאר חלונות העשויות למאור, להראות שאינו צריך לאורה.

The windows of the Bais Hamikdash were made "transparent opaque", wide on the outside and narrow on this inside. This was because the Bais Hamikdash was not in need of external light, the Shechinah was the light of the Bais Hamikash. (Rashi)

We too are given the mandate of becoming receptacles for the Shechinah.
ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם.

How can we apply the principle of חלוני שקופים אטומים - transparent and opaque windows to ourselves and our functioning?

Let us bear in mind that we all possess a nefesh Eloki, a G-dly soul within, a חלק אלוק ממעל. The brilliance of our soul is described as seventy times as great as the morning light. How do we access this? What do we do to enable our souls to shine and illuminate our lives?

שקפים אטמים is about not watching and waiting for recognition and pay-off for our actions and accomplishments. The astounding fact that that we are doing Ratzon Hashem and making Him happy (כביכול), is itself the gratification.

שקפים אטמים can apply to our relationships with people. Relationships must constantly be gaged to ensure that they are healthy and balanced, based on giving, sharing, and not unnecessary emotional dependency. This can apply to parents, who must carefully monitor how they relate to their growing children, and certainly their married children, not to become overbearing and controlling. It can apply to adult children, not hanging on to parents in an unhealthy way under the guise of kibbud av va'em. This can apply to any friendship, watching boundaries, not trespassing and not allowing others to trespass.

שקפים אטמים is also about being intellectually critical, not passively accepting but carefully checking information that we receive and the standards that are dictated to us. How does something fit or not fit in to the value system that we know to be true and real? So what if any given behavior is the "norm" and everyone does it, or someone famous and important does it! This is a tough one for someone whose self-identity is intertwined with some group and automatically adopts the all the group's standards - for better or for worse.

שקפים אטמים certainly is about being careful with the sights and sounds that we "allow in", vigilantly filtering out the inappropriate. The eyes and ears are windows to the soul. Our brains do not forget and delete. Anything that goes in simply gets pushed and packed into its recesses. So why fill it with junk? Beyond pornography, there is also the issue of all the lashon horah and prejudices based on resentment and tzarus ayin that float around the environment. This is no less junk and no less filthy than the former. So much of the tragic fragmentation in our community is a result of these terrible insidious messages communicated and internalized.

שקפים אטמים is about not getting fazed by situations in which we find ourselves that are different than we would have chosen. Rather than torment ourselves with "Why am I in this situation, why is this happening to me?!", an illuminated response would be to honestly seek out and ask "What does Hakodosh Baruch Hu want from me in this place?". The next step would be to reach out to Him and beg that He provide us with all the necessary resources to handle it properly.

שקפים אטמים is all about striving for simcha constantly. This is the joy that results from knowing that no matter where we are, we are connected to Hashem, and He is supervising every detail of our lives, custom supervision. True joy is not about external situations that come and go, but about the inner simcha always lighting up our lives.

I remember a woman who worried a great deal about finding a shidduch for her daughter. The great event finally happened and the daughter became engaged. I was sure this woman would be filled with delight and happiness that her wish was fulfilled. The very next conversation we had was about how she was beside herself looking for a wedding hall. What a let-down! Is this what life is all about?? Going from one problem to the next?! No time to indulge in gratitude and bliss?

שקפים אטמים is about consciously making time to contemplate all the great blessings we have, and actively expressing our gratitude. The list is really endless. We can start with ברוך ה', אני נושם.

שימו לב אל הנשמה!

Pay attention to your neshama!
Life can become a wondrous and fascinating journey of revealing and accessing the Nefesh Eloki,
by tuning out of all the static and the noise and tuning in to the great wellsprings within.

ושכנתי בתוכם.

A gutten Shabbos from Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh.

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