Friday, May 22, 2009

Guest Posting By Yehonasan - Worshipping Our Own Worship

"When a person becomes accustomed to holiness, and he attains intense radiance and [high] rungs, the evil inclination comes to him and says to him: “Look at your deeds—see how much holiness you’ve attained! So many brilliant illuminations!” (Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac of Komorna, Nesiv Mitzvosecha, Hakdamah)

“…Anyone who sets up an image on high to the Holy One Blessed be He in a secret place—any form, tzelem or likeness, in the likeness of the forms of those who serve Him—his soul will become garbed in that very image! Then when he departs from this world, a voice will go forth to that image saying: "Consume him with fire!" (Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun 66, p. 97b).

The soul’s pure intention is to connect back to its source, to G-d. For a Jew, Torah and mitzvos are the means to this connection. And that is all they are—the means. “The entire Torah and mitzvos were given ONLY for the goal of ‘u’vo tidbak’ ‘cling to Him.’” (Toldos Yaakov Yosef, Hakdamah).

The danger is that the means are so often confused for the end. When our intention falls from the level of “I want to connect to you, G-d!” to the level of “I want Torah and mitzvos! I want holiness, I want illuminations!” then we have confused the means for the end. Instead of our service being toward G-d, our service goes toward setting up an image of ourselves on high, an image of ourselves as a lofty being serving G-d in the higher realms. We worship our own worship.

The Tikkunei Zohar tells us that our punishment, then, is that we are allowed to become that image that we wanted to be. Our soul becomes snared in it. And then the image itself consumes us with flame. That flame is the burning shame our soul feels when we see that we had been worshipping an image of ourselves.

Torah and mitzvos are not the goal, they are the means. As a person who is striving to increase his observance and Torah knowledge, I find I forget this basic point all the time. Now, I am resolving to remind myself more often.

Therefore, next time I want to buy that especially beautiful tallis, or complete that entire masechta, or daven beautifully before the amud, or attain that lofty meditative radiance I have been craving, I will try to remember to ask myself whom I am serving.

Perhaps when my soul burns in shame inside that image of myself I have created in my religiousness, my “spiritual path,” G-d will have mercy on me, because in the midst of it all, I at least tried to remind myself to connect to Him.


At May 22, 2009 at 10:23:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks. i enjoyed this article very much. blessings.

At May 22, 2009 at 2:21:00 PM EDT, Blogger Jen said...

Excellent. I can really relate to your thoughts. Thank you for this reminder to always have connection to God as the goal. Shabbat Shalom!

At May 23, 2009 at 9:58:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Smashed Hat said...

There is an old Chassidic saying: "One man fears the Shulchan Arukh, while another fears G-d!" Meaning -- our kavannah in fulfilling the mitzvos should be as the Toldos says in the passage you quoted, to cleave to the Creator.

At May 31, 2009 at 3:28:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

a helpful post for me. thank you


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