Healthy Self-Esteem includes Gcd-Consciousness

Rabbi Wachsman Melava Malka June 13 2009

Transcript of the above link (password 613mitzvohs) Rav Wachsman Melava Malka June 13 2009

“Kol Yisroel yaish lem halek olam haba” quotes the pasuk Kulom Tzadikim. Imagine if there is a little boy and it is discovered that he has an extraordinary talent for music and there are people who are experts in music and they believe he is a world class talent in violin, and they say that he is a child prodegy and they investigate and they come to the father and they tell him that not only is he talented but he is one of the greatest musical talent in history. There has never been anyone who compares to him. Imagine that the father is a peasant and he says I don’t know after he finishes with his chores if he has time, we can play his fiddle, it is okay. And they say, you don’t understand his talent belongs to the world – it is a once in history talent. You can’t just say that you won’t develop his talent. He was born with this extraordinary talent. And everything has to be to develop this talent.

A haleck, we have a natural part of us that brings us to olam haba that will make us tzadikim, a way to lead into olam haba. Every single person is a gadol hador in one particular fashion and no one else can accomplish his shelichus...We have a halek that never existed before. Every one of us is once in history event and we have to do everything we can to develop this talent that we have to take us to olam haba. Sometimes we think to be a tzadik hador or a tzadik hadoress, a tzadik the likes of someone who never walked this planet..that is the destiny and potential of every single person. Now many may think that I am talking nonsense.how is it possible that I could be the tzadik hador? We don’t understand what a tzaddik is. There are some people who think of a tzadik – the Chofetz Chaim, but I have a yetzer hara, middos rayos, and if you talk about a tzaddik it isn’t me, I am not a tzaddik, I have ra.

Somebody who thinks that the idea, that every one of us before we came to this world makes a shevua to come here in to this world, to become tzadikim because we all have that ability. The weaknesses that we have, the yetzer haras that we have, the middos rayos that we have, are the tools that we have to overcome those nisayonos to become a tzaddik. If we have it over and over in a particular weakness, it is a simim min hashemayim that we can become a tzadik gomer. But we associate tzaddik with someone world famous, someone with many followers. If we go by those standards, famous, universally beloved, inspires thousand…in that case Mickey Mouse is a tzadik – he has all those ingredients, it doesn’t make him a tzadik. A tzadik is someone who is omed in his nisayonos. There are people who have difficult nisayonos and the world is resting on their shoulders. I know a bocher where the ruach is open to many things that are open to things that shouldn’t be open to..he has the internet in his room. I have seen poems this boy has written to the Ribono Shel Olam to overcome his yetzer. Every single person has to work on himself because that is developing our talents. If we understand what we are capable of, imagine if we had a musical talent and he has a weakness of being tone deaf, that is the area he has to develop. One of the greatest violinists Isaac Stern had a picture fall off the wall. He called a carpenter to bang a nail in the wall to re-hang the picture. He told someone he can’t risk banging a finger – the whole world is inspired by these fingers. If we understand the talent that we have to be tzadikim, we wouldn’t allow ourselves to waste our time, the halek that we have, to reach olam haba. Some people think we are too old. In beshalech, it says how pharaoh felt after he let the people go. He realized he let go of something very precious.

A person thinks so many things have passed and that he can’t clean it up. Halek olam haba – we have within us the ability, the kishra. When someone is proud of something, the Ribono Shel Olam has made the entire world and everything he created and what is he proud of? He created the galaxies and trillions of stars and mountains and valleys. What in my creation am I mispalel for? Here is the greatest invention I ever made and He is so proud and he uncovers - YOU. Or Me! This is what I show off about! What him? You made Shimon Bar Yochai…what are you proud of him for? Yes I made them but like him or you I never made him before! I created him and I never created anyone like him before! Every single one of us can create – no one in history can do what we can do and the Ribono Shel Olam is so proud.

The gra says we will come to shemayim and the greatest agony will be that we will be shown what we could have been, what our potential was, and the anguish will be so great that if we were alive we would die from the pain, and Hashem has to give us koach so our neshama can continue to exist. Halek L’Olam Haba, every single one of us We don’t believe it.

You think I am saying chizuk. But I am saying truth, the aleph bais of yiddishkeit, rabosai. Kol yisroel, every single one of us, our neshamas were sent down to this world with the potential of greatness that was never seen before. We have a natural talent for this if we are prepared to work on this, to recognize and understand and not to be taken in by our mistakes or thinking I am too far gone. If it was too late, the Ribono Shel Olam would not give you back your neshama in the morning. He doesn’t make bad investments, He only wants to invest in a worthwhile investment. He takes that neshama kicking and screaming and puts it back in the morning…He says I am still waiting and hoping that you can be the tzadik hadoress.

There was a businessman who lost his money and he was very talented so we went to a rich friend and asked for some money for a year to build his business. The man said okay, it took him three or four days, and he believed in the man and gave him the money. A year later, the man came and asked for his money. The businessman opened the safe and gave it back to him. What do you mean? You didn’t do anything with it? Why does he care? I invested with you – I believed in you, I hoped you would bring me revachim. Do you know what I went through to put this money together?

The abishter invested in us! It has to take the neshama and bring it down to the world –He invests in us with tremendous effort so we can bring revachim! The one who can say “you didn’t invest in me for nothing! I understood that if you give me something so extraordinary as a neshama that you mean business and you believe in me. I didn’t just put the neshama in the safe and return it to Him with nothing. I will develop myself! If we live like this, we would become tzadikim hadoress. It is so pashit that the Abishter didn’t create anyone more likely to become a tzadik than anyone else.

Between the wars there was a refugee in a town and the chief of police was a Jewish boy turned communist giving the Jews tzuris. It was Shabbos, shalos seudas with the Chofetz Chaim invited him. He sat down, remembered what a Rav is, washed, and the CC started saying Torah.asked why was the etz haim in the center? If it wouldn’t be in the center it would be easier for one person to be zocheh to eternity than another. It is just as close to you as to me. Everyone is born with a different set of nisayonos but the opportunity is all the same. It doesn’t make a difference. We are all equidistant. If we internalize this, and believe this and live with this and recognize what we have inside of us. Life is a big big big thing, a big serious event. It is an earth-shattering historical occurrence, every single one of us, happens only once in all history. Hashem should give us the wisdom, courage and strength to live according to our potential. We should grow and be mikadish shaym shemayim and shteig in Torah and middos tova and see moshiach tzidkenu.


Who Am I? Bringing Gcd-consciousness into Self-Esteem A Key Goal toward Jewish Unity and Redemption authored by Jewish People Unite

“You cannot drive away darkness with clubs, not even with cannons; kindle light and the darkness will disappear of itself.” Chofetz Chaim

The purpose of this article is to emphasize the urgent need to establish within every Jew healthy self-esteem based on Jewish values. Essentially what this means is that a child must grow into an adult with a sense of self that includes connection to Hashem, whereby when a person says “me,” it is understood that “me” refers to the eternal “me,” the “me” that was before my body, is in this frame of reference, and will be after I leave this frame of reference.

If we are already adults and do not have this within our definition of “me,” it is not too late. We have a whole lifetime to develop this, and we have the free-willed choice to do so. There are five parts of our soul, three that are with us in this frame of reference and two that simultaneously exist in the supernal worlds. When we realize that the boundaries set by our skin and organs do not encompass the entire greater "Me", then those of us interested in acting in our best interests might need to adjust some priorities.

The book Tomer Devorah written by Moshe Cordevero focuses on the mitzvah of walking in Hashem’s ways. It is broken into 13 sections for each of the Yud Gimel middos, describing the attribute in Hashem and how a person can, in daily life, bring this attribute into the world.

The more we do this, the more we cling to Hashem. The more we cling to Hashem, the more we draw close to Him. And the more we draw close to Him, the more we identify ourselves with our eternal self, our tzelem elokim. And the more we are able to identify ourselves with our tzelem elokim, the more we are able to say and do things that rise above our limitations and resist the urgings of the yetzer hara. Being able to stand in Hashem’s presence and realize that we do not have to succumb to the loud call of our lower urges establishes for us a purpose beyond an impact in this world alone. When we can come to see that the tests of this world and the calling of the yetzer hara are presented to us and we can, with our free will, desire our relationship with Hashem more than the temptations of this world, we have a victory that impacts this and all the worlds.

It starts with developing a real love relationship with Hashem. But how can we do this? We can start by loving our fellow Jew.

If you are like the average person, you may do better setting goals for yourself within a group committed to these types of goals. Ahavas Yisroel Chaburas (for women only) offer a venue for working on spiritual growth. When it comes to spiritual growth, there is a great deal of inter-connectedness amongst inward ideas, which describe our relationship with and responsibilities to HaKodosh Baruch Hu, such as bitachon (trust in Hashem), behira (free-will), ruchnius (spirituality), devekus (eternal identity,) closeness to Hashem and more. The root idea is that Hashem is One and we, as His people, are One with Hashem. There is only one root for everything in this world – Hashem – and without that understanding, there is no meaning to anything that happens in this world. Each of these ideas helps us to piece together an answer to our question – Who Am I? – so that we can walk into our spiritual identity and succeed with our tests while we are in this frame of reference.

Any woman interested in spiritual growth is invited to:

Bring Hashem Into the Picture Every Day Join an Ahavas Yisroel Chabura

“The first door is that the person working on herself should know her own value: her level and her greatness and her importance and how beloved she is to her Creator.” (Rabbeinu Yonah, Shaarei Teshuva).

In Sara Rigler’s workshop called “Dressing the Spiritual Soul,” Mrs. Rigler teaches that the basics of our spiritual wardrobe are gratitude and self-esteem. She gave us laminated cards to carry with us with the quote from Shaare Teshuva above: Her message is to bring Gcd into the picture. And the first step is to understand the very great love that Hashem has for every Jew.

Rebbetzin Tziporah Harris gives a workshop on the Six Constant Mitzvahs. Mrs. Harris’ classes offer understanding on how the Six Constant Mitzvahs bring us upward in Gcd-consciousness and how remembering the Six Constant Mitzvahs at times of interactions with people can stimulate break-throughs in Ahavas Yisroel, loving our fellow Jew. Her message is to bring Gcd into the picture. The first step is to remember that Hashem is the only Power, that everything that He does is for our ultimate personal development in this world and for eternity. A link to the teleconference calls (free) for the Six Constant Mitzvahs is on the chabura page.

Mrs. Rigler and Rebbetzin Heller and others in Israel and Mrs. Harris in America are spearheading the formation of Ahavas Yisroel chaburas. In Tomer Devorah, Moshe Cordevero communicates the idea that when we treat another person in the manner that Hashem treats us, we recognize another Jew for the valuable tzelem elokim that she is and that, in fact, we are treating none other than HaKodosh Baruch Hu in the same way that He interacts with us. It is much easier for us to understand that we might choose to behave in a kindly way toward Hashem than for us to understand that we should behave in a kindly way with another Jew, especially one that we have judged unfavorably. Nevertheless, we can build our relationship with Hashem in two ways by improving ourselves in Ahavas Yisroel – the first is to become more like Him by emulating Him and the second is to open the shefa that comes to us for doing so. One of the things that the Ahavas Yisroel chabura participants do are small stretches in Ahavas Yisroel in order to do teshuva on sinas chinum, the cause of the destruction of the Second Temple.

(To start an Ahavas Yisroel Chabura please call 212 712 9020 and leave your name, phone number and email address. ) Small stretches in overcoming negativity within, as well as in our daily relationships, are shared between participants by discussing our internal process and successes. For example, here would be a personal stretch story.

"Someone through negligence caused a mutually loved person to be hospitalized in critical condition, with a poor prognosis, essentially causing the loss of a valuable relationship, except for davening to Hashem for a refuah. My lower self wanted to blame the negligent party but I realized there is no other power and that this is from Hashem and blaming the party or acting angrily toward the party would not be productive and would only add darkness. I asked myself instead what midda of Hashem I might emulate and I realized that I had the opportunity to be patient, forbearing, forgiving and even empathetic, as the negligent party also lost this person. I realized that it is not my place to judge the negligent party or harbor ill will, but rather that my role is to beseech Hashem for the refuah. The negative reaction that might have resulted in an action that would have added darkness to the matter and averahs upon my soul was gone, replaced with the realization that we cannot understand the Divine Mind, nor is it our task to. Rather it is our task to do mitzvahs and to emulate His middos and to serve His Will as told to us in the Torah, for that is the purpose of this world. "

What does Ahavas Yisroel have to do With Self-Esteem? 1. How do acts of Ahavas Yisroel accomplish teshuva on sinas chinum (Jewish Unity through bitachon)? 2. How do acts of Ahavas Yisroel shift us to our ruchnius side (Behira and Devekus) and help us merit redemption? 3. How does being a ruchni deepen our self-esteem and establish unity?

1. Bitachon, Trust in Hashem – Hashem Echad – Develop and Deepen it through acts of Ahavas Yisroel: Everything Hashem does is for our personal growth and development and ultimate good. Let me digress to share a story from when I was young that will help in understanding this concept and provide a feeling of safety and trust in Divine Providence. At that time, the Russians sent a rocket-ship into outer space and I asked my parents how did it get out of the earth? My father said it went up. I asked him again, but how did it get out? In my child-like view of things I imagined us safely within a hollow globe called earth, with the ground and oceans on the bottom and the sky and sun on the top, nicely and securely protected within a crusted ball called the earth. When my father explained that we lived on the earth, I became full of insecure questions – why don’t we fall off? Isn’t that dangerous? He explained about gravity and I forgot about the Sputnick story until recently, when I read in Rebbetzin Heller and Sara Rigler’s book Battle Plans, that Hashem created darkness on the second day. Mrs. Heller asks, why did we need darkness on the second day? There were no people. Darkness was a creation that preceded mankind, what is it for? Her answer is that there is only Hashem everywhere, including in this world. However, in order for there to appear a world, the light of Hashem had to be filtered down with darkness. Otherwise, there would be only Hashem and no world with free will could appear, for if we could see Hashem we would not have behira, free will and we would not be able to earn the reward He wishes to give to us. With this explanation snapped back my childhood sense of security – we are wholly contained within Hashem, as if in a womb – even though we are in an infinite universe with free will and apparent evil, we are completely within the domain and control of Hashem and, in a two world picture, only good (“good” here includes spiritual growth and rectification) happens here. Re-draw my picture to include the entire universe within the protection and complete Divine providence of Hashem and feel secure.

There is a name for Hashem, Elokim, that means justice, and a name of Hashem, Adoshem, that means rachamim. Rachamim means mercy and has the same shoresh as rechem, womb. I find comfort of thinking of this universe as the womb of Hashem, and, taking the analogy further, that our free will is equivalent to stem cells!

Everyone is interested in stem cells because they can grow into whatever type of cell is needed – neurological cells, brain cells, heart cells, etc. In a sense, when we have bitachon and use our free will to do Hashem’s will, our intention and free will turn our actions into the particular merits we need, to fix and mend our souls, to do mitzvahs, to emulate His middos and to earn eternity. Why? Because the challenge is constant – will we identify ourselves from our tzelem elokim or will we identify ourselves from our lower self and give in to the lower urges of the apparent this-world circumstances. While we intellectually like to think that we would consistently identify ourselves from our tzelem elokim, realistically the yetzer hara works very hard to break our connection and urges us to see that there could be another conduct that is necessary under this “special” circumstances (of loss, grief, suffering, etc.) In fact, there is only one power and only one set of values (Torah values) to be applied in every situation, no matter how horrific, no matter how bloody, no matter how painful, no matter how damaging. The test is, in fact, not the circumstances themselves, but rather the inner free will point that we are placed at – will we continue to identify ourselves b’tzelem elokim and choose actions that bring His attributes into the world or not? We may not find the success with the external reality of the test we are in. We could even perish, chas v’shalom. But in the words of the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe who was faced with a gun to his head when imprisoned in Russia, if you believe in one Gcd and two worlds, a person is not afraid of a gun. There is no other power. That is one of the Six Constant Mitzvahs.

This and the other five of the six constant mitzvahs enable us to consider our actions to show Ahavas Yisroel. One spiritual benefit is that, because we conducted ourselves in a way that we know is pleasing to Hashem, we feel closer to Hashem, building our relationship and feeling of closeness with Hashem. The stronger and more real-feeling our relationship with Hashem, the deeper our love of Hashem becomes, and the more willing we are to rely on the relationship, to have bitachon, when we need it, thereby acting from our ruchnius side. Every act of Ahavas Hashem is either an expression of loving Hashem or an opportunity to show bitachon (acting on the realization that Hashem Echad,) by emulating Hashem as a free willed choice (so as to earn the reward of being close to Hashem in this world and the next.) This brings shefa to us as well, for as we conduct ourselves in bringing in His light, so His light comes to us to go through us and benefits us.

How does bitachon help bring Jewish Unity? When we and every Jew realize the conduits of Hashem’s light that we can be, and come to realize that, in this basic and eternal way, we are part of each other and part of Hashem, then we accomplish Jewish Unity. Acts of Ahavas Yisroel are the means by which we acquire a deeper understanding of who we are in relation to Hashem, how we can bring His attributes (light) into the world, how this benefits another person, how we benefit from bringing this light into the world, and how our understanding of each other shifts toward Jewish unity.

2. Behira is what we build with - Do not stray after your eyes and hearts: When faced with challenging circumstances or people, will we continue to identify ourselves b’tzelem elokim (remembering that Hashem is One) and choose actions that bring His attributes into the world or not? That is the inner free will point from where we choose. Utilizing free will to help us move upward on our mountain of Hashem Echad is the purpose for which we are here. Instrumental to making choices in this regard is gaining control over the urges that might lead us astray, namely the yetzer hara, whose job it is to do everything he can to make us think that some other set of values is needed here besides Torah. It is in the moment of tension at our free will point that the choices we make build repair and reward for our eternal selves. Therefore, it becomes crucial for us to see ourselves in this world from the perspective of our eternal selves, our ruchnius side. Otherwise, we will be trapped in the logic and rationale of this world, a gashmius world where the yetzer hara is running things, and, when we get to the next world, we will find that tragically we missed out by listening to the yetzer hara and using our time poorly on gashmius goals instead of ruchnius goals. The first step is to know when we are being tested and what the test is. The second step is to have the desire to cling to Hashem. The third step is to have the strength to put that desire into action and emulate His attributes. When we are faced with a challenging circumstance with another Jew and we are motivated to under all circumstances maintain our strong connection to Hashem and even build it and give Him nachas, and that is more important to us than the external impact of the circumstances, we are choosing Hashem Echad and this helps us merit redemption. Why? Hashem is hidden in this world. If every person, with their free will, conducts themselves as if they can see Hashem’s will, by searching out ways of emulating Him in difficult circumstances, will Hashem continue to have a need to hide in this world? He could take off the mask and be seen. Acting in a manner that communicates to Hashem that we are influenced toward Him even if He is invisible strengthens us in our devekus, in our defining ourselves from our eternal soul.

Devekus – Hashem is One- Understanding this gives us focus to bring Yud Gimel middos into this world: Having bitachon and gaining control at behira (e.g..by remembering the six constant mitzvahs) deepens a person’s ruchnius side. When we are able to develop a self-image based on devekus - on a two world picture where we choose to place ourselves upon an infinite path of seeking connection and closeness to Hashem - we define ourselves as our eternal self rather than our temporal self. When we are able to see ourselves in our daily interactions in this world from the perspective of our eternal selves in two worlds, we gain greater and more purposeful choices, choosing to align our will with the Divine Will as often as possible. We can shift the word “me” from a one world picture based on this lifetime (gashmius) to a two world (ruchnius) picture. From a ruchnius perspective, our “me” is the part of us that clings to Hashem when we do mitzvahs, and sees Hashem behind every face and grows when we emulate Hashem’s middos. Our devekus becomes our center, our sense of “me”, whereby our “me” becomes a feeling of being small and beloved in Hashem’s eyes. Tomer Devorah illustrates exactly how we are able to bring His middos into the world through our interpersonal relationships. What greater pleasure is there than to feel that one can focus on rising above our own physical limitations to bring His middos into this world and bring light into darkness?

3. Jewish Unity -The spiritual choosing done from our ruchnius side when performing acts of Ahavas Yisroel establishes the basis for redemption by removing sinas chinum and building a unified nation through humility and bringing Hashem into the picture as the unifying Source of everything: We have a family relationship with Hashem and each other. Every Jewish soul can have a close and intimate relationship with Hashem, which affects our interactions with other people, which can repair the sin of baseless hatred and thereby build Jewish unity (may our efforts be successful and may we merit redemption.)

Humility is teshuva on arrogance - making room for Hashem means making ourselves smaller, humbling ourselves: We build a close relationship with Hashem when we focus on a deeper root of self-esteem. That deeper root would be to know that we are a creation of the Divine mind and that we have a drop of His infinity animating us, called our soul. We can choose this deeper definition of self-esteem rather than what might be generally thought of as self-esteem through humility by recognizing that everything comes from Hashem, including our heartbeat and minds. Moshe Rebbeinu, the greatest prophet that we have, was the humblest person who has ever lived, and his lifetime is an example of how humility is truly the highest form of self-esteem. Moshe Rebbeinu knew his value, his talents, his abilities, all that he was, but he knew it was all from Hashem (see Parsha Korach.)

The subject of humility and self-esteem are crucial in today’s world because of the world situation, growing anti-semitisim, financial meltdown, nuclear threat and more. In Sanhedrin, the Gemara tells us that if the Jewish people do not return of their own free will to do Hashem’s will, that suffering in the form of affliction and anti-semitism will come into the world. Why? Why should such suffering be sent? Are we being punished? It is not a simple matter of punishment for doing wrong. What is being elicited from us through suffering is the natural response of a child to its parent to “Pick me up, Tati!” – Hashem is our loving parent and desires for us to recognize His role in our lives. Our successful domination of politics and this-world powerful tactics aside, it is not enough. Man’s knowledge and will cannot succeed if it is not Hashem’s will. Yet despite the history of the world, people have a blind spot due to our egos.

If our response to the suffering and circumstances in the world today would be to universally understand that we are all connected to Hashem and are one with each other and with Hashem in order, we would then have incorporated into our internal beings Gcd-consciousness, which would play a role in our decisions when we are at behira. Bring light, not more darkness.

Ruchnius deepens Gcd-conscious self esteem –Self-conscious self-esteem is corrected by Hashem through suffering: Why does Hashem get our attention through suffering? Hashem went into Hester Panim after the destruction of the First Temple. Think about it for a moment – the Jewish people had a national revelation at Mount Sinai where Hashem “married” us for all time. We had the presence of the Shechina in the First Temple, where we saw constant supernatural evidence of Hashem and the spiritual world. Perception of the spiritual world apparently was not enough to keep the Jewish people on the derech. Why? Hashem created us with free will and with an imperfection, a blemish, through which the yetzer hara, our evil inclination, constantly nags and tries to grow from a blemish to an infection. The purpose of the blemish is so that people can utilize their free will to choose to do the Will of Hashem, thereby earning reward for all eternity. Our lifetime is purposeful in this regard, to know that there is a Hashem who has given us instruction on how to live life in this world and what He expects from us in order to merit eternal life and joy. What Jewish history has shown us is that external perception and evidence of Hashem does not trigger the internal resources needed to make successful choices when tested by the yetzer hara. Rather, it is the personal spiritual growth that occurs when we successfully overcome the tests tossed our way by the yetzer hara which bring us closer in action and character to Hashem. The more control over our lower selves we have, the more we are able to do acts of kindness, to do mitzvahs and to emulate His Yud Gimel middos, bringing out His image within us and strengthening in us His attributes. In other words, when we experience the benefit of choosing Hashem’s will through our internal choices of thought, word and deed, we grow spiritually and build the truest way possible to know Hashem – by emulating His character and choosing to be His emissary, His servant, in this frame of reference..

How will the Moshiach and the final redemption be born from acts of ahavas yisroel ( i.e. the Jewish unity and humility that ahavas yisroel fosters?) We live in times that are called chevlai Moshiach. Birthpangs of the Moshiach. We understand that when a woman gives birth, the baby comes through the birth canal and into this world. The contractions are in the muscles of the womb and from the womb the baby emerges. But from where will the Moshiach come? The suffering is on our emotions, on our sense of loss, on fear, on doubt and hatred and by bringing our lives into the realm of our lower urges. What is the correlating birth canal? If we are forced for the sake of remaining decent into reaching upwards to Hashem and thereby succeed at re-defining ourselves from our eternal self, from our devekus, in our own minds comes the era of Moshiach - perhaps, just like a flower blooming, the era of the Moshiach will come soul by soul, through internal connection to Hashem.

The importance of ego and arrogance versus humility becomes the order of the day. Suffering is deemed by the Gemara to be the “knock on the door” that we are to experience, until we realize that it is not the will and hand of man that prevails, but rather the Will and Hand of Hashem that was, is and always will be, and that there is Someone to ask for what we need and want (peace, redemption, survival). We cannot accomplish what is ultimately good for us without seeing the Divine being as part of our definition of self and seeing our self as part of the Jewish people, one nation, one body, connected in a familial relationship with Hashem. This is the humility that we sincerely need to develop, and is a teshuva (a return to serving Hashem) by which we may merit redemption. When we are able to see that there is only Hashem in this world where there is so much darkness and behave accordingly, then Hashem no longer has a need to conceal Himself and we can be redeemed.

How exactly do I re-define my sense of self to make room for Hashem? According to Jewish thought, self-esteem is primarily derived through seeing our identity from devekus – recognizing that our mind is animated by the Divine mind and that intelligence and strength makes us a valuable creation. We have a soul that runs from our lower animal self all the way up to Shemayim. If we look for our self-esteem in ways that satisfy our lower self, we might end up in a taking mode. If we realize that we have constant and un-ending self-esteem because we have a higher soul with responsibilities to Hashem, and we find our way to relating to Hashem through devekus, then we grow, giving to Hashem by serving Hashem. Our relationship with Hashem is primary. Perhaps this chart may help:

In Conclusion, Ahavas Yisroel Chaburas Provide the Venue because they build within us the understanding that we have no separate existence from the Creator (for eternity and for now as well - in this world, we are not in touch with this because we have free will, but understanding that we have no separate existence with the Creator and are completely loved by the Creator is the basis of our self-esteem.)

When we have an internal process that keeps us primarily involved with: • positive actions that are pleasing to Hashem, • relating to Hashem’s will as told to us through the Torah, then we rise above our physical limitations toward holiness. Rising above our limitations is a great spiritual victory for a person and it has tremendous spiritual impact in the heavenly realms because, through our actions, we bring Hashem into this world, bringing light and holiness.

Much of what I have written here is very idealistic and it is important to remember that we are limited and that we have an opportunity all our lives to travel this road. It is the process that gives us spiritual reward, closeness to Hashem, and holiness, and that is what we are seeking. The Yetzer Hara will try to tear down the small steps, making them seem inconsequential, insufficient, and lacking. That is the Yetzer Hara’s job. If we are sincere, we can tell the Yetzer Hara we are doing our best and have confidence in time we will succeed and silence the Yetzer Hara. The Yetzer Hara is a snake without legs and cannot run after us. If we remember we are not lacking anything, that everything is for our spiritual growth and ultimate good in a two world picture, then we remain attached to Hashem and drawing closer, and this is what the goal is. May each of us succeed in overcoming personal inner negativity and through our interactions and interpersonal relationships bring love and light to this world, and may our efforts make us meritorious of Divine redemption.

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