Ya'akov finished instructing his sons. He gathered his feet onto the bed
and expired. He was gathered to his people. (Bereishis
I CAN'T SAY IT ENOUGH TIMES: this world is about tikun-rectification. And,
obviously, there is no better way to bring about tikun than Torah and
mitzvos. Well, actually, it depends upon which level you are talking, and
how high up a rectification you want to cause. Because, if you want to cause
an ultimate rectification, you should hear what the Leshem has to say about
Any tikun of separation that we accomplish on a level that is fitting
for Atzilus will not be the result of the physical act we perform, but the
result of ratzon and teshukah-will and yearning-alone. For, all ratzon and
teshukah from us to The Holy One, Blessed is He, from an action or mitzvah,
whether it be prayer or the learning of Torah with heart and soul, with will
and yearning for Him, may His Name be blessed, is what ascends to Atzilus
itself. This is the ratzon hapashut-simple will that is without any thought,
just yearning alone, b'sod "I am for my Beloved and my Beloved is for me"
(Shir HaShirim 6:3), and "I am for my Beloved and His yearning is upon me"
(Shir HaShirim 7:11). This is the cleaving of soul to soul, b'sod "May He
kiss me with the kisses of His mouth" (Shir HaShirim 1:2), and it was the
level of Moshe Rabbeinu, regarding whom it says, "Mouth to mouth I speak
with him" (Bamidbar
12:8). (Drushei Olam HaTohu 2:3:22:4:1)
As I have mentioned in the past, there are five worlds, or levels of
spiritual consciousness, that span all of Creation. The lowest one is called
Asiyah, which means "action," because it is the realm of the physical world
in which we live, and all physical action occurs. Our physical universe, as
vast as it appears to our eyes, doesn't even fill up this entire level, at
least as it presently exists. It corresponds to the sefirah of Malchus, and
our lowest level of soul, Nefesh.
The next level up is called Yetzirah, or "formation," because it corresponds
to the six sefiros of Chesed through Yesod, which were the basis of the six
days of Creation, and the six millennia of history that are rooted in those
six days. At this stage of creation, everything was formed from existing
matter, or yaish m'yaish-something from something. This level corresponds to
the level of soul called Ruach.
Above Yetzirah is the level of Beriyah, which means "creation," as in yaish
m'ayin-something from nothing. It corresponds to the sefirah of Bin a h ,
and our level of soul, Neshamah. It was the direct product of Atzilus above
it, which is so spiritual that, in comparison to Beriyah, it as if it does
not exist, and hence the phrase, yaish m'ayin.
Atzilus, or "emanations," corresponds to the sefirah of Chochmah, and the
level of soul, Chiyah. It is a purely spiritual world, one which evil cannot
access, and therefore, one which the actions of man cannot affect, either
for good or for bad. Unlike the three worlds below it, Atzilus is perfect
and without need for any tikun, at least along the lines of that which is
necessary for Asiyah, Yetzirah, or even Beriyah.
Therefore, as the Leshem explains, mitzvos, as holy as they are, and no
matter how precisely they are performed, or how much intention is involved
in their performance, cannot separate out and cause to ascend Holy Sparks to
the level of Atzilus, only to the levels of Asiyah, Yetzirah, and Beriyah.
Therefore, any rectification that a mitzvah, technically-speaking, will
affect, is only on these levels.
However, there is something that man can do that is powerful enough to
ascend beyond these three levels, and actually reach Atzilus, causing
Atzilus to emanate tremendous amounts of Divine light to the lower worlds,
greatly enhancing their tikun. It is called Ratzon Pashut, teshukah for God,
a pri- mordial deep and total yearning, a love sickness for the Creator that
is without any thought or calculation. This was the level of Ya'akov Avinu,
and all of the Avos, for that matter.
In other words, there are two aspects to the performance of mitzvos, and the
tikun they can cause to us and the world. There is the technical performance
of a mitzvah, which means that you make a point of doing the mitzvah for its
own sake, what is called lishmah, and making sure that the mitzvah is
performed as expected by the Torah.
This earns a person reward in the World-to-Come, the extent to which is
based upon how well he fulfills both conditions. It also impacts Creation by
separating out Holy Sparks from the Klipos, the realm of spiritual impurity,
and uses them in a holy way, freeing them to ascend, spiritually, back to
their origin in the upper worlds-to a limit.
The other aspect has a name: hislavus, a word that means to become inflamed,
spiritually-speaking. It refers to the passion for God that one is supposed
to exhibit when doing mitzvos, or anything in life for that matter. It
doesn't necessarily mean that a person has to jump up and down in excitement
while praying, or anything else in life. It means putting one's heart and
soul into his service of God, which, depending upon the circumstances, can
be done loudly or quietly.
Everything in life has technical steps. A person who has fallen in love with
someone still has to call the flower shop to order some flowers and to pay
for them if he wants to send them to the object of his love. He may even
have to drive there and pick them up before he can deliver them, ring the
door bell, and hand them over.
But, if he gives them by simply saying, "Hi. I bought you some flowers.
Thought you might like them," and then leaves, the point might be lost. When
he calls for his next date and is rejected, he might say something like,
"What, it wasn't enough that I just bought you the flowers?" to which he may
hear something like, "No. It's not the flowers that I want. It is your heart."
But, if he gives the flowers to his wife, let's say, and adds, "Beautiful
flowers for a beautiful person," and smiles sincerely while saying it, all
of a sudden, the flowers are a more powerful gift. Indeed, done in just the
right way, the flowers become a vehicle to express one's love, to reveal it,
and to project it. If people have become estranged from one another, it can
close the gap. If they are trying to form a relationship, it can bond them
But, when it comes to the performance of mitzvos, the building and
rectification becomes even more important, because it affects not just two
people, but the entire universe, the physical one and the spiritual one.
And, though almost anyone can fulfill a mitzvah according to the strict,
technical details of the law, not a lot of people do so with a good amount
of ratzon and teshukah for God, and that means everything.
The reason is simple, and addressed by the Rambam in his Yad Chazakah, when
explaining the mitzvah of ahavas Hashem-love of God. There he asks a simple
question: How does one come to love God? And, he provides a simple answer:
by contemplating His awesomeness, and all that He has done for man and Creation.
In other words, anyone who is not driven to love God is simply someone who
is out of touch with reality. If they really understood and appreciated the
gift of life, and what God does for the world and each individual, they
would be lovesick for God, even with their problems. It may be hard to see
this or feel this when the chips are down, but it is true nevertheless, and
some people, in spite of disaster, have been able to live up to this reality
just the same.
This is really the mean of the words:
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. (Tehillim 51:17)
This does not mean that God prefers broken and desperate people as His loyal
servants. It means that God prefers when people do not let things like ego
and selfishness interfere with our relationship to Him, as they so often do.
The moment a child believes that his parent owes him a living because he
gave birth to him is the moment that parent and child will no longer be able
to enjoy a love bond, and it is the same between man and God as well.
This was Ya'akov Avinu. He was a man who felt that God owed him nothing, and
that everything he received was gift for which he ought to be grateful, and
was. He had no sense of entitlement, and the one time that he acted as if he
did, when he complained to Pharaoh in last week's parshah that he looked
older than his years because of what he went through, he paid for it with
life itself, dying one year earlier for each word of complaint he uttered.
On one hand, it seems like a simple thing to do. But, if we look at our own
lives, we can see that we tend to love those people who give us what we
want, when we want it. How many children have yelled back at their parents,
"I HATE YOU!" all because the parent was trying to do what was best for his
or her child, out of love for the child and belief in his or her future.
Quoting someone I know well, he said:
"It took me about 18 years to wake up before I realized how much I owe
my parents, and my love for them increased tremendously once I did. It took
me a little longer to do the same with God, and each and everyday, as my
appreciation for Him increases, so too does my love. On Yom Kippur, I cry
like a baby out of my intense desire to bond with God and never let go. I
literally feel lovesick!"
I envy this person. Likewise, I envy the person, in a good kind of way, who,
when praying to God, is with Him 100 percent, pouring his heart out to His
Creator, or who, when doing a mitzvah, puts his heart and soul into it, as
much as he can, each time. The connection to God he must merit and feel is
something we should all be striving to achieve.
It is our history.
It is our legacy.
It is our way to reach up to the highest heights and bring tikun to Ma'aseh
Bereishis, and to become the partner with God we are meant to be in the
rectification of this world, and our portion in Eternity.
Text Copyright © 2009 by Rabbi Pinchas Winston and Torah.org.