Friday, February 26, 2010

Tetzaveh 5631 First Ma'amar - Practical Application

This essay is based on Tetzaveh 5631 First Ma’amar.  Clicking on the previous words will bring you to the ma’amar on the blog.  (Opens in a new window.)
The Midrash in this week’s parsha teaches us that the Menorah was not needed for its light.  God, after all, does not need our light.  It is a symbol that God gave us the ability to light up the world by performing His mitzvos.
The Sfas Emes explains that the mitzvos contain the spiritual light of the Torah.  When we perform a mitzvah, we are a conduit to draw out the spiritual light of the Torah which lies latent within the mitzvah.  To the extent that we internalize the understanding that this spiritual power is not inherent in us but rather that we are simply the mechanism through which the light comes into the world, we can reach great heights. 
Not only does this enable us to reach great spiritual heights, the Sfas Emes explains that this concept applies to material success as well.  He bases this on Chazal who teach us that whosoever wishes to protect his assets should plant a maple – אֶדֶּר – tree as we find in the pasuk, “אֲדִיר בַּמָרוֹם ה'/God is great on high.”  Material strength comes from the realization that everything comes from God because the true vitality of everything flows from its spiritual source.
The Chiddushei HaRim teaches that the month of Adar –אָדָר  – as well, is particularly suited for working on internalizing this concept.
Remembering Amalek is also firmly connected with this idea.  Chazal teach us that the reason Amalek was able to fight us was because we had become weak in Torah and mitzvos.  The name of the place in which the battle took place was רְפִידִים – which hints to רִפְיוֹן יָדַיִם/weakness.  We “gave” Amalek strength by severing of our connection with God.
We see that success in both spiritual and material endeavors is a function of our connection with God.  Connecting with God is not necessarily an esoteric concept.  The Sfas Emes teaches us a down to earth method for connecting with God.  We can connect to God by internalizing the understanding that we are simply conduits or tools for manifesting His light in this world.  To the extent we believe this, we experience it.  The very belief affects the results of our actions and what happens to us.
How can we cultivate this belief?  More importantly, how can we make sure that we apply it?  How can we remain consciously aware of the fact that we are conduits of spiritual light?  We need to contemplate it before every action.  Since God powers everything, every activity has within it the potential for drawing spiritual light into the world.

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