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Posted on October 26, 2017 By Rabbi Yisroel Roll | Series: | Level:

Before taking the bold step into the neshama state at the seeming “risk” of distancing yourself from your never-ending thought processes, let us first gain an awareness of how our consciousness actually works:

We operate cognitively; our lives are based on intellect. When the intellect is used as a tool to solve problems, all is well, but when the intellect becomes the inner critic described above, these thoughts confuse us and bring on anxiety and a host of other negative emotions.[1]

When speaking about “leaving the mind for your neshama state,” this means leaving these destructive thoughts behind. Now is the time to recognize: “I am not just my mind; I am a neshama.” You can bypass, answer, challenge and outsmart these negative thoughts, and in so doing regain emotional equilibrium and stamina.

In neshama state, the destructive thoughts of your inner critic are irrelevant. In soul state you are connected to truth itself, to your G-dly self. In this place, the soul is in control. It directs, instead of being led by the fluctuations of the mind.

The mind is not you. The mind is meant to be a resource, a tool of the soul. Unfortunately, the mind sometimes overtakes the soul and uses it as its own tool or resource. The soul becomes subjugated to the mind, and the result is that we become anxious, depressed and confused. This is dimion — a distortion, which is a tool of the yetzer hara.

That is precisely why Hashem is so demanding of us. We possess a Tzelem Elokim, an aspect of G-dliness within us. G-d expects us to use it. The very fact that we turn to G-d asking that He ease His judgment of us is evidence of the esteem in which G-d holds us. He expects, indeed demands, that we be great! He requires us to activate our greatness of soul.  G-d’s demanding nature is the ultimate vote of confidence in our abilities and potential.

When you are in neshama state, you are experiencing a connection with G-d and feel wholeness. However, “wholeness” does not mean that you can remain passive. If you are whole, you may think that all is well with the world and nothing further needs to be done. Indeed, wholeness may imply a sense of complacency, as if: “If I am whole, then I need nothing.” The concept of avodah, however, stems from knowing that I am not whole, that I lack something and therefore need a relationship with G-d in order to complete myself. That is why the neshama state is only Step 1 of this aspect of avodas Hashem.  Step 2 is using neshama state as a basis from which to use the G-dly midda that you have identified and interact with those around you from that G-dly state. When you do that, you will be more likely to interact in a noble, elevated, refined, and G-dly manner.

Three Aspects of Neshama State: Shechinah, Middos and Hashgachah Pratis

There are three reasons why engaging in the neshama state and gaining a better understanding and connection to our Thirteen Middos is beneficial:


The Tomer Devorah (Chapter 1:7) states:

When a person returns to G-d, this causes Hashem to return to His Place. Hashem returns His Shechinah upon him, but not as it was originally, rather increasingly,

On this, Hakdamos V’shaarim L’Tomer Devorah comments: The purpose of creation is to reveal Hashem’s glory and to give His Shechinah a place to rest in the world, as Midrash Tanchuma states: “At the moment Hashem created the world, He desired a dwelling place in the earthy world just as He dwells in the heavenly world.”

Through the vehicle of the Beis Hamikdash the Jewish People received a flow of Torah, holiness and awe. As a result of our sins we were exiled from the land and the Shechinah went into exile as well. And after we committed the sin of the Golden Calf, even though G-d forgave us He intended that He would thereafter lead us only via a messenger, as the Torah states: “Behold I send you an angel…” Only after Moshe Rabbeinu pleaded on our behalf did Hashem forge a new covenant with us through the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, as the Talmud (Rosh Hashanah 17b) states:  — A covenant has been made with the Thirteen Attributes, that they will not be turned away empty-handed,

The Vilna Gaon (Aderes Eliyahu, Parshas Nasso 7) states: All the prayers that Moshe Rabbeinu uttered when he was on the mountain for the second set of forty days were in order to cause the Shechinah to return to dwell with us as it was originally … and immediately when Moshe descended on Yom Kippur with the second set of Ten Commandments and G-d said, “I Forgive,” He commanded them to build the Mishkan, in order for the Shechinah to return to the Jewish People.

When we get in touch with and bring to life those of the Thirteen Attributes that resonate the most with us, we are bringing the Shechinah into our midst and into our selves.

Middos Development:

Tomer Devorah (2:1) states: In order for man to become more like His Creator through the secret of the keter, he must perform a number of actions which are essential behaviors.

Hakdamos V’shaarim L’Tomer Devorah comments: Since man is created in the image of G-d, every one of his abilities and limbs has its source and root in the heavenly forces and ten sefiros. Man, through refining his body and repairing his middos, has the power to emulate G-d.

When you go to soul state and thus experience your middos, you can then interact with others while in that state of awareness, thus actualizing your character traits. You are much more likely to interact successfully and in a refined manner when you are actively and consciously aware of your good middos.

Hashgacha Pratis:

Tomer Devorah (Chapter 2) states: Man should think about his fellow man according to his ability, and arouse his mercy for him before Hashem, and before his fellow men. He should distance himself from thinking negatively about his fellow man, just as the Heavenly Eye is open and gazes (upon us) always.

Hakdamos V’shaarim L’Tomer Devorah comments: The Heavenly Eye refers to the midda of rachamim by which Hashem is always gazing upon man.

The Rambam states (Moreh Nevuchim 3:51): A man of perfect intellect will focus his thoughts on G-d always, and in turn G-d’s Providence will be upon Him always. And a person of intellect, whose thoughts sometimes veer away from G-d, will cause the Divine Providence to rest upon him while he is thinking exclusively about G-d. And the Divine Providence will leave him when he turns to mundane activities.

Therefore, when a person experiences his soul state attributes of rachum — compassion, chanun — empathy, and rav chessed — kindness, he is more likely to emulate Hashem by treating others with Hashem’s middah of rachamim. Then he too will have only one outlook, that of kindness to others. He will in turn cause Hashem’s heavenly eye of kindness to follow him, as well.

                                                                              Ratzon: Your True Self

“He shall offer it”, that teaches that one forces him to do so. One might have thought, against his will? Therefore the text states: Lirtzono. How is that? He is forced until he says, “I want to” (Arachin 21a).

 We compel the husband to give the get because we know that his essence – his true reality, which is engraved on his luach libo (the tablet of his heart) – wants to give his wife her freedom and a chance to move on with her life. However, he is blocked from accessing his luach libo — his true essence, because he has been hurt emotionally. He is angry. These emotions come from his ego. His true ratzon is to do the right thing, and we will not allow his wife to become an agunah just because her husband’s ego is blocking his access to his true self. His ego is not really him; it is actually distancing him from his true self. This angry husband has disconnected from his true will; we merely compel him to return to his true self.

How do you access the reality of your true self? Let us look at the deeper meaning of Shmittah and Yovel and discover an insight hidden in the concept of “returning to your true ratzon.” The Torah states:

…and you shall return; every man unto his possession, and every man unto his family you shall return.

During the 49 years of the seven Shmitta cycles man can be lulled into the false perception that he “owns” his land. He can come to believe that the material possessions he has acquired are evidence of his own success and that he is a “self-made man,” as if to say: Kochi V’otzem Yadi Asu Li es Hachayil Hazeh — My strength and the works of my hand produced for me this success (Devarim 8:18). In fact, the Sefer Hachinuch (Mitzvah 330) states that a practice existed among foreign kings during the era when the Bnei Yisrael were busy conquering and settling the Land of Israel in which from time to time lands owned by nobleman and officers would be confiscated by the king in order to remind them that it was he and not they who were in control.

The Sefer Hachinuch states that through the land’s reverting to its original owner every Yovel, the people gained a clear reminder of the source of the bounty they possessed. This, in turn, allowed Hashem to continue bestowing of His bounty upon them. This concept of the land’s reverting to the original owner on Yovel is symbolic of man’s consciousness that all his possessions ultimately belong to Hashem — the True “Original Owner.”[2] When man has this awareness, bounty can continue to flow, because man is in humble alignment with his true Source.

When man disavows himself of all delusions about material possessions, strips himself bare of the heaviness of “things” on Yovel and gives everything back to the Original Owner, then all he is left with is himself. He has no trappings of external possessions to distract himself from his essential humanity, only his pure, unadulterated Tzelem Elokim. This aligns man with his true self — his will, his ratzon to do the Will of Hashem. In his true, humble core, man wants to strip away his ego — his desire to serve himself — and find his innermost desire, the will to serve his Creator.

Once you hvae  divested yourself of your land and physical trappings, you can no longer hide behind possessions and “things”; you have no choice now but to encounter your core, basic self. In facing this core self you find your true nachalah and achuzah —(personal resources and destiny) you have yesh, existence, as a creation of G-d Himself. You have nothing left other than your “self.” That is how returning lands you have purchased to their ancestral owner — seemingly leaving yourself with “nothing” — in fact, bestows existence itself. You have nothing — because you have everything.

“Returning” to your own possession means getting back to being yourself — your true self.  How? By finding the ratzon to go to the Source — the source of yourself — you then find the free will to adhere to the Will of the Creator. The word ratzon has the same gematria as the word makor (source). When you align your ratzon with Hashem’s Ratzon, you join with Reality — you reach the Source.

[1] It is important to note here that there are two forms of “depression.” Situational depression is what is being discussed here, where negative thoughts can bring on a bad mood, mood swings, nervousness and anxiety.  Clinical depression, however, is a matter of biology and neurology. This form of depression is caused by slow moving neurotransmitters in the brain. Such a condition may require medication to cause the neurotransmitters to operate more effectively.

[2] Tomer Devorah (Chapter 4) states: Teshuvah has within it the roots of existence, which can be found in the secret of Yovel. The source for this concept is found in Yirmiyahu 17: 8:

For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreads out its roots by the river, and shall not see when heat comes, but its foliage shall be luxuriant; and shall not be anxious in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

Rabbeinu Bachya (Shaarei Orah Shaar 8) comments: All generations lead to their original source, for if anyone in Klal Yisrael has been sold he can return; redemption can be his and on Yovel he goes free, as it is says “וְשַׁבְתֶּם אִישׁ אֶל-אֲחֻזָּתוֹ  — every man shall return to his possession.” In the secret of the Sefirah of Binah the soul can grab hold of the place from which it was culled and therefore the word achiza (grasp) is used in this verse וְשַׁבְתֶּם אִישׁ אֶל-אֲחֻזָּתוֹ .

The Hakdamos V’Shaarim on Tomer Devorah explains: When man sells his house and field, he alters the reality that G-d created. For every man has his own property and money, and is thus a free man and not a slave. However, man sometimes fails, and misuses and loses that which is his. Then, he must sell his property or himself as a slave. And when the light of the Sefirah of Binah enters our world, from the world of True Freedom, the entire world returns to its roots and its place of True Freedom. So too, a man who has sinned and has distanced his soul from his true achuza and roots — his soul goes into exile to the place of klipos. And when the Light of Bina shines he repairs and returns everything to the original state that Hashem created. Yovel comes from the world L’hovil — to lead, because all deeds that have been done and all pathways that have been traveled lead back to their source. Thus, Hashem reveals that He is The Movil — He leads all of reality in accordance with His original plan for creation, and no man can change or ruin that original plan.

This is an excerpt from Self Esteem in the Talmud by Rabbi Yisroel Roll.

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