Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Question & Answer With Dixie Yid - Confronted Each Day

(Picture by Graustark)

A Simple Jew asks:

ודובר אמת בלבבו ...and speak the truth within his heart

Seeing these words in the siddur each morning reminds me of this and this. I am grateful that these words confront me before I start the day and help keep my thoughts, speech, and actions in check. Without them, I would be more prone to following the illogical logic and rationalizations of my mind.

Is there a verse in the siddur or in sefer you learn regularly that serves a similar function for you?

Dixie Yid answers:

I would have to say that the pasuk that gets me every time is Devarim 4:39, "וְיָדַעְתָּ הַיּוֹם, וַהֲשֵׁבֹתָ אֶל-לְבָבֶךָ, כִּי יְהוָה הוּא הָאֱלֹהִים, בַּשָּׁמַיִם מִמַּעַל וְעַל-הָאָרֶץ מִתָּחַת: אֵין, עוֹד." "And you shall know this day, and enter it into your heart, that Hashem is G-d in the Heavens above and on the earth below, there is no other." To me, this pasuk just captures everything that I know I should internalize into my life. It seems to me to be just about the most central pasuk in the Torah (though I know every pasuk is equal). I feel that if I internalized everything here, I would be a complete Tzadik. Every phrase of this pasuk is so rich, which is one of the reasons I think of it so much, and I want to break it down phrase by phrase.

וְיָדַעְתָּ הַיּוֹם - "And you shall know this day" - This teaches two things. One is that I must intellectually know about Hashem's 1) presence, 2) immediacy and 3) providence. It also means that the knowledge is a knowledge for "this day," today. My knowledge of Hashem must be immediate and fresh, not like something about which I would say "Oh, I know that already!" Since knowledge of Hashem is so easily forgotten at every moment, it's a knowledge which is always "new" to me in my effort to keep my knowledge current with the reality.

וַהֲשֵׁבֹתָ אֶל-לְבָבֶךָ - "And enter it into your heart" - Intellectually knowing of Hashem's presence, even as difficult as it is on a constant basis, is easy compared with making that knowledge part of my conscious and emotional reality. The knowledge of Hashem must penetrate the iron curtain between my mind and my heart. Seforim like Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh and Bnei Machshava Tova are great guides for how to practically accomplish this goal.

כִּי יְהוָה הוּא הָאֱלֹהִים - that Hashem is G-d - Elokim means "powers." There are many powers that we see "controlling" things in the world. There's nature, money, power, connections, the mortgage company, the landlord, the boss, the college, the hanhala of the yeshiva/seminary, etc. etc. etc. This part of the pasuk teaches me that it is only Hashem who is G-d. None of those other powers really control me or my life. We have to remember that all of those other "powers" are merely garments or vessels for Hashem's controlling hand.

בַּשָּׁמַיִם מִמַּעַל - In heaven above - Hashem is G-d over all of the heavenly worlds and His Presence and Existence is "mesavev kal almin," surrounds all worlds and is above and transcending our physical existence.

וְעַל-הָאָרֶץ מִתָּחַת - And on the earth below - The more challenging phrase of this part is to realize that not only is Hashem the G-d of heaven, but that He is even present in our low and physical existence here on earth. This is the element which I alluded to earlier when I mentioned that we must know not only that Hashem exists and that he controls everything with His Divine Providence, but also that His presence is immediate and close. I must remember that Hashem is not only the transcendent G-d, but He is also the immediately present G-d who is "memaleh kal almin," fills all worlds with His presence.

אֵין עוֹד - There is none other - Again, we must remember that אֵין עוֹד, מִלְּבַדּוֹ (Devarim 4:35), there is nothing other than Hashem. Everything else besides Hashem is merely a garment or vessel for the only true, root existance which is Hashem. In that light, all of the kleinekeit'n, the small things, of this world no longer have the power to sway me from where my mind and my actions should be.

It seems to me that the major yesodos, foundations, of Yiddishkeit are contained in this amazing pasuk. So it is one that I very much enjoy thinking of because it covers so many areas and it is so deep that it amazes me every time I think of it.


At May 27, 2008 at 8:23:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How often do you reflect on this verse? On a daily basis or just once a year where you read this parsha?

At May 27, 2008 at 9:51:00 AM EDT, Blogger DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

As often as I remember to.

Is there a pasuk or line in davening that you reflect on Jertain?

-Dixie Yid


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