Thursday, August 28, 2008

Question & Answer With Dixie Yid - Life Through The Lens Of The Mei HaShiloach

A Simple Jew asks:

As someone who has been greatly influenced by Mei HaShiloach, how have you been able to find the right balance between engaging in your own hishtadlus (efforts) and seeing the world through the Ishbitzer lens that "It's all Hashem"?

Dixie Yid answers:

After learning a number of mind-bending Izbitz Torahs in Mei Hashiloach that have upended the way I perceive reality, I came to the conclusion that one could summarize the sefer Mei Hashiloach in three words: "It's all G-d." (See e.g., Parshas Vayera, D"H "Vatitzchak Sara" & also his piece on Pinchas killing Zimri).

I shared this observation with a holy lawyer friend and then he shared with me an observation that a Breslov Talmid Chacham that he knows shared with him. "Be careful not to get caught in 'Klipas Izbitz.'" (the "impure" side of Izbitz Torah)

His basic idea was that if one gets too caught up in the realization that "It's all G-d," one can come to tolerate Tumah & Aveira in his own life. He will say to himself, "Yes, I may have done/am doing this aveira (sin), but it's not sooo bad. Really all bad is just an external shell, but deep inside, everything is good. And doing this bad will ultimately bring me to an even greater level of good. Maybe I don't need to rush out of where I am so fast......." This is NOT the attitude that the Izbitzer is teaching one to have.

So if I shouldn't look at G-d providence as primary when thinking about sinning, what is the proper place of the deeper understanding of reality that one gleans for the Izbitzer?

A Rabbi of mine offered the following understanding of the place for these attitudes, when discussing a related topic. We need to know the proper place and time for looking at the world through the lens of "It's all G-d" and when it's the proper place and time for looking at the world through the lens of "It's all up to me."

When one looks to the present and future, one must have the attitude that "It's all up to me." One must focus on the power of free will and feel the personal responsibility of making the right choice. One only feels the pressure to do this with the attitude that "It's all up to me."

However, when looking at one's mistakes of the past, it can be paralyzing to think that all of my mistakes are all my fault. If I feel weighed down by guilt for my mistakes of the past, I will feel too unworthy & too guilty to continue forward in a new direction. That's where "It's all G-d" comes in. When I realize that everything happens for a reason, even things that happened through my own "free choice," and that everything is ultimately for the good, and that good is ultimately hidden within everything bad, then I feel lighter, fresher, and more able to forge ahead toward a better future and correct my mistakes and sins of the past.

The real challenge is knowing when to look through which lens. If one looks at the present and future through the lens of "It's all G-d," then one becomes complacent about aveiros and Tumah in his life, and this is what is meant by "Klipas Izbitz." However, it is just as bad to look at the world through the lens of "It's all up to me" when thinking about the past. Then one can be bogged down and weighed down by the guilt about the past.

May Hashem grant us the wisdom to see the world through both the lenses of "It's all up to me" and "It's all G-d," and the discernment to know when to look at the world through which lens!


At August 29, 2008 at 12:17:00 AM EDT, Blogger Menashe said...

I want to thank you for these fascinating interviews. To get the views of inidivudal chassidim about other chassidus(es?) is really great for two reasons: 1) a newfound appreciation for that chassidus and a probably unintended consequence is 2)a newfound appreciation for my own chassidus (chabad). I fell in love with it from the start but had nothing to compare to until I did a little bit of research. I'm stronger than ever in my identity and pride as a Lubavitcher but with again, a new appreciation for the other styles.

At August 29, 2008 at 8:16:00 AM EDT, Blogger DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...


It's beautiful that you're strong in your own derech and also enriched by other streams of Chasisdus. As I've written about in the posts linked to below, I believe you are really drawing from the light of Moshiach in this approach. Tizku l'mitzvos!

-Dixie Yid

At August 29, 2008 at 10:42:00 AM EDT, Blogger Unknown said...

Does Gd decide it,
do I?
man, Isbitzers are so confused.

1.) the MHS was dealing with biblical charachters, all of their deeds and words, and we cant seem to resist from reflecting on his deterministic assesments in terms of our own lives.

2) the idea that God choses in the past but I choose in the present is an idea found in the Beis Yaakov, if I remember correctly. I will bli neder find the source. I never saw a source for who choses the future, though.

3) The Radziner (Isbitsers Grandson) fully develops the idea about Gd and man's choices in his "intro to Beis Yaakov." In brief, he says that since God is not confined by time and sequence, then any given moment is present before him. The moment man choses, then, for all intensive purposes, God is chosing. When God created the world , HE made a condition with the waters that they would split when the children of Israel needed to the sea of Reeds. If the Egptians had done tshuva, then there would have been no reason to split the sea. So what happens then to Gods first decision? The Radziner answers that since GOd is out of time, and whatever happens now might as well be before God in what we call the past at the beginning of time, then whatever man decides is actually right there at the beginning, and many possiblilties can be simultaneously present for God.
Shabbat Shalom, and someday soon there will be no "shell" of Isbitz

At August 31, 2008 at 8:49:00 AM EDT, Blogger DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Betzalel Philip Edwards,

Thank you for commenting! And yes, it is confusing.

1)I don't agree with historicizing the Mei Hashiloach into irrelevancy. It seems unlikely that he introduced us to these yesodos of the universe without meaning for them to have *some* application in modern life.

2) Thank you in advance for the ma'areh makom in Beis Yaakov for this Rebbe's idea. He's a big baki in these things so he could have gotten it from there. Althogh I have also seen this idea hinted at in the Mei Hashiloach himself, though I can't remember where.

3) Thank you very much for the insight of the Radziner. It seems to tie in with the whole discussion of bechira, which is more than we can get into for now!

Again, shkoach for your insightful comment!

-Dixie Yid

At August 31, 2008 at 9:39:00 AM EDT, Blogger Unknown said...

Reb Dixie! according to all the evidince at hand about the personal conduct of the Isbitzer Rebbe, he never once violated the Shulchan Aruch. You assume "It seems unlikely that he introduced us to these yesodos of the universe without meaning for them to have *some* application in modern life." I would go a little further, with a twist, and say that it seems unusual that he introduced these ideas without actually having any practical application for his own conduct. A criticism of the Isbitzer is that it is largely theoretical. And yet, I still have a strong love and respect for the beauty of the Isbitzer's transcendent wisdom. As a practical way of life, thought, it is indeed problematic.

At August 31, 2008 at 5:48:00 PM EDT, Blogger DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Betzalel Philip Edwards:

There's no stira. He's a Rebbe to Yiddin and unfortunately Yiddin sometimes sin, so they need his teachings. Must the Izbitzer sin to teach us about his yesodos? Chas VeShalom not!

Applying the Izbitzer seforim doesn't mean lechatchila sinning. That's my whole point about not using the "It's all G-d" perspective when thinking about what decisions to make in the present/future. It's only problematic if one wrongly looks at the future/present deterministicly. But not the past, as you explained from the Radziner. Again, it's only problematic if one would suggest to use the "It's all G-d" lense to justify sinning in the present or future, which clearly not an application of the Izbitzer, but would instead be a mis-application. Kol tuv!

-Dixie Yid


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