Friday, July 31, 2009

"Rousing Your Soul"

Excerpt From Hachsharas HaAvreichim, translated by Rabbi Betzalel Edwards:

The Chassidim strove to harness their sporadic emotions, and would go on to engage in activities that would inspire emotion in the service of God. Consider the example of drinking. Even though Chassidim explained a higher purpose in drinking liquor, explaining how Yaakov brought Yitzchak wine in order to facilitate the revelation of the Shechinah over Yitzchak at the time that he blessed Yaakov, as the Zohar explains, “and he brought him wine – hinting at something, bringing close that which was far away,” yet still, for every great and deep matter there is also the pshat, the simple meaning, especially for simple people like ourselves.

Liquor arouses man’s heart and stirs his emotions. Yet in the worst cases, even if he doesn’t get intoxicated, the emotions that are stirred after drinking could get him excited about sinning, and he could go and dress his partially revealed soul in the wrong places, God forbid. The Chassid and Baal Nefesh, who seeks out the hidden crevices of his soul by candlelight, will say, “True, it only took a drink in order to arouse a part of my soul, but now I must seize upon this small revelation and not let it go until I serve God with a more greatly revealed soul, and not just according to the size of the revelation that the liquor allowed. Yet through my avodas Hashem, I will continue to reveal it, with hisragshus, with great sensitivity, and even with burning hislahavus.”

You can do the same. Drink in the company of Chassidim, Baalei Nefesh, in this way and with this purpose in mind. Use it to bring about the hisragshus the soul, and with your soul revealed, you will add depth to your avodah. Since this is your intention and your preparation, rousing your soul by drinking in the company of Chassidim, you will feel how your soul is dressing in a holy garment. In this way you will be stimulated to avodah and faith. You will wake up to the love and fear of God.

It is a good idea for them to all get together for a drink once in a while, not in order to get drunk and disorderly, God forbid, but in the way of the Chassidim to bond together and to rouse the animal soul out of its slovenliness (as mentioned in chapter eight). Even someone whose constitution does not allow him to drink liquor should dilute it with water and drink together with the fellowship.

After the drink, they should sing a zemer (song) to further arouse and inspire their souls, like “Yedid Nefesh,” “Adon Olam,” “Mizmor L’David,” and so forth. If their souls are emblazed and they want to dance, then they shall dance, provided that they don’t use up all of their time together just for drinking, singing, and dancing.


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