Aviv Aharon Illoz, Morristown, NJ
MyLife Essay Contest 2018
The way we usually understand “Nature” is that G-d runs the world according to the world’s patterns, and they are important to Him. The result of seeing reality in this way could be emotionally, psychologically and even physically harming to a person. If nature is the end all be all, and it tells me that is impossible to be successful in something, or that I don’t deserve something, I have no other path to take but to give up.
In the dicourse entitled “Pasach Eliahu” the Rebbe reveals to us what true reality actually is. God runs “Nature” not according to the world’s patterns, but according to His will. Although the patterns we see could either appear as drawbacks or advantages, in truth they are not advantages or drawbacks. Rather, these are manifestations of G-d’s Will, which is for this world to be a dwelling place for Him, and at the level of G-d’s Will, advantages and drawbacks contain the same relevency, which is to fulfill this purpose.
The Rebbe explains this by introducing that the world is composed of two parts: “Chomer” (matter) which gives a physical being his feeling of existance; and “Tsura” which refers to the external look, emotional and psychological characteristics of a physical being. “Tsura” was created by G-d’s Will (differently is “Chomer” which was created from “Dibur”, speech). The understanding that G-d’s “Vitality” which fills the whole creation in order to conduct nature, is what sets up the intrinsic characteristics of every physical being, gives us the recognition that this “Vitality” is G-ds Will.
When we start looking at the world this way, we produce a more physically, psychologically and emotionally healthier life.
The areas where this applies in a person’s life which I wish to focus on are: 1-Producing a general healthier mindset in a person’s activities, such as eating and exercising. 2-Dealing with situations that require “Emuna” and “Bitachon”, such as working for “Parnassa” 3-Producing healthier relationships.
Problem: When a person has a negative mindset while involved in physical activities, it leads him/her to have very bad habits and eventually to negative emotions, for example: a person who eats only to satisfy his own pleasures could be led to do other things only for pure physical pleasure and indulgence. Society testifies that this is a negative thing. Everyone is trying to achieve the right balance. It could also lead a person to focus too much on himself and developing bad relationships with other people, such as his wife (or her husband). Besides for the fact that eating only for pleasure is not healthy.
Even a person who eats to be healthy, takes care of their body, and exercises, he/she could still fall into negative feelings. These feelings are known as “Kochi VeEtsem Yadi” (my own power and my own hands made this), which is the feeling that I have complete control over my body and life decisions. However, when it comes to a situation where this person’s attributes cannot assist him in achieving success, this individual might lose hope. Or for example, when he is involved in a business deal, he could have the feeling that everything must be perfect, and he will only succeed in the deal if he uses the proper tactics. Instead, he/she should recognize that G-d provides, and not their own capacity and creativity creates money! When a person believes that parnassa comes about solely through their own efforts/capabalities, their entire lives are dominatated by concerns of constant personal success. Such an outlook causes an person to only look out for themself and blinds them to the loved ones around them. (Although a person, depending on who he is, has to put effort in working for “parnassa”, it has to be in a way of “Yegia Kapecha”, that only his “hands” are involved, and not his whole being).
Solution: Introducing a new mindeset to view reality. Understanding true reality provides you with the correct mindset when dealing with anything in life.
Before eating, tell yourself: “Wait, there is a “Chomer” and a “Tsura”. The reason why I feel atracted to this food is because of my “Chomer” which causes me to feel separate from G-d, and the food’s “Chomer” which says that the food’s importance and meaning is its taste and shape. This could cause me to indulge in it, and eat only for physical pleasure.
But what makes this apple look so tasty? Is its “Tsura”, which is completely nullified from the “Godly vitality” that energizes it. And what is this vitality? G-d’s Will. It’s true that I recieve a genuine pleasure from the food, however, the reality is that this food has its good taste and shape only in order to fulfill G-d’s will! G-d’s Will is to provide energy for a Jew to serve Him and to make a “dwelling in this world”. So besides for the fact that I will eat because G-d wants me to eat, and not because I want (which rejects the feelings of “Kochi VeEtsem Yadi” because the decisions I take are only because G-d wants), I will also behave in the way G-d wants me to behave when eating, which is in a healthy way, so that I take care of my body to serve Him, and not in the way I want”. The same applies to exercising. You exercise because G-d wants you to exercise and take care of your body in order to serve him, and not because exercising makes me strong and fit (which is a feeling that comes from “Chomer”). And eventually this produces a healthier perspective in other areas of life as well.
Also when it comes to situations that involves “Emuna” and “Bitachon”.
Take for example a business deal. When gaining or losing, you have to tell yourself: there is a “Chomer” and a “Tsura”. “Chomer” tells me that the consequences (of gaining or losing) are dependent on hard work, the way I speak with people, and all other tactics on how to succeed in a business deal. However, “Tsura” tells me that everything I gain or lose is dependent only on G-d’s will. G-d set up “Nature” in such way that if I put in effort I succeed and if i don’t…; because he desired that this should be the system (for a dwelling in this world). Therefore, I will put effort in getting “Parnassa” (in a way of “Yegia Kapecha”), however I won’t stop davening with a minian, spending time with my family and friends, and setting times to learn Torah because I recognize that whatever I gain is according to G-d’s will, and His will is also that I do all these healthy and beneficial things.
Additionally, in a scenario where something not so pleasant occurs to you. Although you might view this as a consequence to a negative deed of yours (or complain to G-d: “Why do I deserve this?”), however you shouldn’t view this as a punishment from heaven. The reason for this is because everything is according to G-d’s will, and since His Will is to have a dwelling in this world, punishment doesn’t bring this goal closer. You should see this as being a opportunity to recognize G-d’s greatness, to strengthen your “Emuna” and “Bitachon”, and act in the way G-d wants (something which maybe you wouldn’t have done otherwise). For example: Someone lies to his friend but he repents about it. Still, he doesn’t want to tell his friend the truth because this would hurt himself. When his friend starts asking questions on the subject he lied about, demanding details, etc., he (the one who lied) could feel that this is happening because he lied and therefore he deserves punishment. This person has to realize that this is not a punishment, but a opportunity. This is an expression of G-d’s will to have a dwelling in this world, and He desires to live in a place where people are honest. So here is a opportunity for this person to fulfill G-d’s will.
In my personal life, I applied this to the mitzva of “ahavas Israel” (love for a fellow Jew).
Did you ever experience a hatred for someone that you know, even though that person never did anything bad to you, only that for some reason, the way that person acts annoys you? Or maybe you feel that that person is constantly thinking bad about you, and is criticizing you in his/her head?And suddenly, one day you start speaking with that person for a few minutes, and the picture that you had about him/her completely reverts, and you realize how this person is good!?
This is exactly how I feel many times about people, and going through this meditation on reality has helped me many times. I try to realize that the way I see things is not correct, and attempt to develop a new and healthier perspective about people.
I say to myself: “Why does this person have this annoying nature? Why does he speak in this way? Why is she wearing these clothes?”
True that the first step is to nullify your “Chomer”, as the Rebbe Rashab explains in his discourse “Hechaltzu”, that the source for these negative feelings towards someone else is from the fact that I feel myself and occupy space without giving him space. As a result, we can’t get along together. My hatred for him is based on that he is taking away from my space (i.e., from the fact that he exists!). Therefore, the first step is to nullify my feeling of existance and allow someone else into my life.
But how do I accept the way this person acts, speaks, thinks or dresses. It goes completely against my view on what is normal and acceptable?
The answer for this is: All the circumstances that brought this person to be what she/he is today, or to speak in his/her way, or wear such clothes, are according to G-d’s will. In truth, these things are positive because G-d desired that this person should be where he is right now, with all the characteristics that he has developed for a purpose, just like He designed me in a certain way for a Godly purpose. And there is no advantage on the way I was designed over the way my friend was designed. Similar to the way He has designed me, which in my eyes is in a beautiful way, so too when it comes to other people.
And this thought has helped me to accept the differences between people, and created a more positive perspective.
Taking a step further:
The Rebbe says in the discourse that in order to have a real understanding of reality we need “Mesirus Nefesh” (giving up your life for His will). G-d’s conducting of “Nature” according to his will is hidden, which prevents humans from “observing with sight”. However we are able to undestand it. In order to reveal the true reality of “Nature”, so that we should “see” it, and not only understand it, “Miracles” are necessary (because when G-d does miracles, we clearly see that this is according to His will). However these “Miracles” should be in a way where they don’t “break” nature, but unites with it, showing that even nature is conducted by G-d’s will. In order for “Nature” and “Miracles” to unite, it is necessary to reveal a level of Godliness which transcends both of them, and this is accomplished by Jews going on “Mesirus Nefesh”.
“Mesirus Nefesh” in our generation means “Mesiras HaRatson” (giving up of will). When we are used to doing something, or when we really want to do something, and let go of doing it; or when we don’t want to do something and we do it anyways for G-d’s sake, this is called “Mesirus Nefesh”.
Also applying this to “ahavas Israel”. When you feel something negative about someone, don’t just meditate and change your feelings about him/her, rather, speak with him/her and try to build a relationship. Even though this could be hard in the beginning, if you want to really see true reality, which is that this person is good and beautiful in his/her own way, you have to give it a try.
We could also apply this to working for “Parnassa”: when you behave in the way G-d wants, without thinking much, you will see in actuality things will work out (Like we hear many stories In which the Rebbe advises people not to work on Shabbos, and how when they listened to him, their business grew tremendously. And this should also apply to the way you behave in the work environment) and how your life will be healthier. This will bring you to “see” that everything is according to G-d’s will.