AN EXIT STRATEGY IN AVODAS HASHEM
May 8, 2016
Beis Moshiach in #1019, Acharei, Acharei-K'doshim, Bitachon Bytes

By Rabbi Zalman Goldberg

One of the fundamental aspects of Bitachon is recognizing and internalizing that everything that happens in our life is ordained by Hashem. Parshas Acharei Mos provides for us an opportunity to internalize this message. To preface this message we will first discuss a component which is integral to seeing Hashems relevance in practical life

After a two and a half parsha break in the story of Nadav and Avihu’s untimely death, Parshas Acharei Mos returns to the recounting and taking lessons from this unfortunate incident. Chassidus1 teaches a lesson from a deeper dimension that can be derived from this story. Nadav and Avihu, although extremely holy, erred by expressing their feelings for Hashem in a manner which caused them to expire. Hashem had originally placed them in this world in order that they should serve Him through doing Torah and Mitzvos, and their extreme expression of love for Hashem ran contrary to what Hashem ultimately wanted from them.

When it comes to the spiritual service of Hashem, the question can be raised: how is it feasible for a person in the middle of a spiritual experience to maintain a connection to this physical world? The time to prevent the expression of Ahavas Hashem from going out of control is at the beginning of the Divine experience. If at the outset the person’s goal in the spiritual experience is for his own benefit, that he should be close to Hashem, then indeed, remaining grounded is contradictory to his love of Hashem, and an undesirable consequence will probably occur2. If, however, the person’s intent is only to fulfill Hashem’s commandment to love Him with all his might, and he knows that Hashem simultaneously created a world that should be inhabited and not chaotic, then his behavior will always reflect Hashem’s will that the world should be inhabited and refined through Torah and Mitzvos. To summarize, right at the beginning of the G-dly experience, one needs to specify that one will act in a manner which is congruent with רצון ה.

The Gemara3 relates that Rabbi Akiva was the only one of his colleagues who was able to exit the Pardes-Spiritual Orchard in peace. It is asked: why was Rabbi Akiva the only one to successfully exit? The answer lies in the original intent in entering the Orchard. When his peer Ben Azzai entered, it was clearly with the intention of elevating himself higher and higher and not returning to this physical world. About Rabbi Akiva, however, the Gemara says “נכנס בשלום,” he entered in peace. He entered the Orchard with peaceful intentions, i.e., to later exit the Orchard peacefully and return to this physical realm, bringing with him spiritual inspiration to affect this world in a positive way.

It is told about the Alter Rebbe, that at the time that he was a study partner with Reb Avraham the Malach, the son of the Mezritcher Maggid, they both decided to climb the spiritual levels according to what they had learned in their Kabbalistic studies. After making the appropriate preparations, they began their spiritual ascent. For a while, their progress was smooth until the Alter Rebbe felt that he was being tugged by an intense feeling to continue climbing higher and higher to the point of no return. Immediately, the Alter Rebbe ceased and made a hasty return to this world. Turning to Reb Avraham, the Alter Rebbe noticed that he was literally on the verge of connecting to such a sublime level of G-dliness from where return was out of the question. Acting quickly, the Alter Rebbe grabbed a bagel, smeared some butter upon it, and inserted it into Reb Avrohom’s mouth. The sensation of materialism in his mouth successfully reinstated his physical life.

It’s safe to say that the Alter Rebbe always bore in mind the purpose for which Hashem created the world, and this thought guided his every move. So even when spiritual ascent was on the agenda, knowing Hashem’s intention for creating the world kept the Alter Rebbe safe from expiration. Reb Avraham, on the other hand, was known for his ascetic and austere lifestyle, and connecting with the sweetness of G-dliness was a most attractive way to occupy his time.

It requires a certain level of bittul to put oneself aside and strictly adhere to Hashem’s desire for our physical world.

Even when the Kohen Gadol entered the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, an experience which can be described as the height of cleaving to Hashem, it was necessary to bear in mind this intention. It was not a spiritual experience he sought, but ultimately to bring Divine forgiveness to his fellow Jews. Additionally, upon emerging from the Holy of Holies, the very same Kohen Gadol who had just attained a most lofty level of attachment to Hashem now proceeded to daven for the parnasa of the Yidden. This too expresses that the experience of the Kohen Gadol did not remain a lofty experience but concluded with positive results for the world.

This is applicable not only to those righteous individuals who usually enjoy a close connection with Hashem, but also to every Yid. Every Yid has a time when he experiences inspiration. This can occur during Shabbos and Yom Tov; even more so during the Ten Days of Repentance. At these moments we must remember that our entering the moment of inspiration must not be separated from our exiting the holy moment. The commencement must be peaceful and in a manner that we will later draw from this inspiration the ability to live a more refined life.         

This is all how we should serve Hashem, but it is also an important message for preparing to live life with Hashem at the forefront of our consciousness. It is impossible to bring Hashem into our lives if we don’t have an experience of serving Him properly. So firstly, we have to make sure that we are making the effort to express our Ahavas Hashem, and while ensuring that it should be in accordance with what Hashem wants, we are cautioning that our Avodas Hashem should not be mutually exclusive of our day to day lives.

Once our service of Hashem in the correct manner is in place, it will affect how we view physicality in general. Even gashmius which is not directly connected to serving Hashem is derived directly from Hashem Himself. As the Torah says, אם בחוקותי תלכו…ונתתי גשמיכם – if we fulfill the Mitzvos, Hashem will provide rain, demonstrating that the only way for a Yid to receive his sustenance is through fulfilling Torah and Mitzvos. This is just as it was with the Kohen Gadol, whose greatest drawing down of sustenance for the Yidden followed his sublime experience in the Holy of Holies, illustrating that the greatest bracha for parnasa derives from the prior G-dly experience. So to be able to view all material phenomena as being derived from Hashem, we must begin with proper Avoda that starts with the right intention to inspire our mundane life. It will then follow that all aspects of life will be seen as though they are bestowed to us by Hashem, and not just there on its own.

 

Rabbi Zalman Goldberg is a well sought after speaker and lecturer on Chassidic thought. His writings and recordings on the topic of Bitachon can be accessed at http://www.gotbitachon.com. You can also receive his one minute daily Bitachon clip by sending a WhatsApp to 347.546.4402 with the word “Bitachon.”

 

(Endnotes)

1) לקו”ש ח”א ע’ 197 ואילך.

2) עיין לקו”ת פ’ מצורע סעיף א’ לעוד דוגמאות.

3) חגיגה י”ד, ב’.

 

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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