World of Acceptance: How to Turn Lack into Plenty And The Secret of Transcendence
- May 13, 2020
- Posted by: chaimapsan
- Category: Uncategorized
Acceptance is a major component of Torah Judaism. Not only that, but accepting our lives as they are is a subject of contemplation among our tzaddikim. And, in fact, there’s plenty of evidence that doing so actually makes life easier and happier.
Being that Hashem transcends our intellect, we often need to assume a passive stance and simply let go of our desires for the forbidden. It’s just the way things are. While we can’t comprehend Hashem, at the same time, we need to make the best of any given situation in our lives.
But how does that work when we are busy with our problems and can’t seem to make sense of what’s going on?
What happens when chaos around is so overwhelming and seems to crush every sliver of hope.
The essence of acceptance
Jewish literature explains a lot about Hashem’s involvement with reality by comparing the spiritual realms to a courtroom. Hashem, as the supreme judge, receives pleas, prayers and petitions not only from us, but also from angels, past sages and even the forces of darkness.
When a decision is made (and it can happen in an instant because there’s no time there), after all variables are weighted, a decree is issued and what is set to happen, will happen. There are many variables present in this equation, which we will not be delving so much into them here.
The Talmud explains that if the decree is sealed in clay, it can be annulled (whether it be good or bad). But if it is sealed in “blood“, then it’s impossible to change it. This refers to purely spiritual concepts.
We are all limited by our very nature. There’s only so much the human intellect can grasp and that’s why we have a hard time coming to terms with reality. When things don’t go our way as we immediately perceive it, we judge it to be bad. Most of us begin praying to Hashem to change our lives as soon as possible because we think we “know better”.
Obviously, that’s not true, and the result is that a lot of pain and stress is self-inflicted. That’s why acceptance of decrees as a loving expression by Hashem, though it could sound irrational, would necessarily make our lives a lot easier. “Just let go” is what everyone says. Problems would pass by and not scar us so much. We’d live life pleasantly without worrying too much about things because most of it is simply out of our control.
The only problem with that is: how to accept it?
An example of acceptance
The Torah narrates the story of the Hebrew People in the desert. After being bound by Ancient Egypt in servitude and being rescued by Hashem Himself, we stood next to the Red Sea. At that time, the Egyptians had realised the mistake they did in freeing the soon-to-be Jews (though their country was obliterated by 10 plagues) and began hot pursue.
Seeing the Sea from one side and the Egyptian chariots on another, the people begin to despair. Moses, the leader, starts to plead to Hashem. However, as we know, he receives a most enigmatic answer “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to travel forward!”.
At first glance, we are left clueless.
The Jewish Sages already stated in the Talmud that, even if a person finds himself with a sword to his neck, he shouldn’t refrain from praying because “Hashem’s salvation comes in the blink of an eye”. So what kind of response would that be?
This is where things get fascinating, but we will have to make a brief interlude.
Rabbi Tzadok’s explanation
The Zohar explains that there are 3 ways with which Hashem relates to us. This is often called “Divine Providence” (or Hashgacha Pratit), namely, how the Creator relates to us.
The first one way is when a person receives everything he needs without any effort. Whether it’s money, health, good marriage, peace or children, this person gets it all without a single prayer or drop of sweat. Surprisingly, whether they are good or not, there are people in the world who are graced like that. It’s just the way the world is run.
The second type of providence is when a person prays and doesn’t get anything back. There are times in our lives when Hashem, seems to have “turned his back” and becomes inaccessible. It’s not that he doesn’t listen to prayer or that he’s not there, but rather, he doesn’t answer in a clear and positive way.
Finally, in the last type of providence, a person prays and Hashem fulfils it. This is an in-between the first and second types of providence and is where most of us are situated. As Rebbe Nachman of Breslev would say “Whenever I see lack, I see lack of prayer”. Meaning, with enough prayer, pretty much everything a person wants can be actualised.
It’s important to realize these 3 types of providence can happen in a person’s life at different times or even simultaneous times, but with different issues.
While the first and third types of providence are manageable, the second one really is difficult. This is obvious. The first person gets everything for free (that’s not necessarily good all the time, but it’s nice nonetheless). The third person also gets everything he wants by praying and, personally I believe that’s the best place to be. If you have a problem, pray and it will be solved. Sounds like a sweet deal.
So, asks Rabbi Tzadok HaKohen of Lublin, what can a person in the second type of providence do to change his situation?
The whole problem with the world
According to the deeper sources in Jewish Tradition, we are here to filter the broken shards of the spiritual reality that fell in this physical world of ours. The explanation doesn’t sound as nice and convincing as it is in Hebrew, but let’s bear it together.
The world was originally created in order to serve as a vessel to contain Hashem’s Infinite Light (read: Divine Consciousness). Divine Consciousness in its pristine state is limitless, blissful, pleasant, peaceful and joyous. It transcends any physical pleasure a person could possibly conceive in his mind. Ultimately, it brings the entire universe to a state of unity and harmony. And this is everything our souls (our true selves) desire, despite our bodies screaming otherwise.
Yet, as it turned out, creation was unable to withhold such a powerful experience of Hashem and broke, so to speak. It broke once before what we call “Creation” and once when Adam came to the Garden of Eden and asserted his own independence and fragmentation by eating of the Tree of Knowledge.
The real spiritual job
Our work ever since has been to bring the Hashem’s Light (again: Divine Consciousness) into the world by becoming vessels and accepting His domain. When that happens, all evil, pain and fragmentation disappears. This is a more logical process than it sounds and can be explained in another time.
Meanwhile, as we are in the process, the rectification happens slowly, starting first with ourselves, then with our community and finally, the world. This is how consciousness works. Reality is brought forth from within and everything we see is very heavily influenced by how we view life. The problem is that most of us don’t know what we really feel inside. We just think we do.
As Rav Avraham Itzhak HaKohen Kook already implied in his writings, those who attempt to rectify the world without first rectifying themselves are hypocrites. The reason is because it’s simply impossible to fix anything in the exterior world without first rectifying it from within.
The benefits of acceptance
Accepting is not easy. A person might have to go through a lot of pain in order to finally accept reality. This is because most of the times, when we are in pain, it means we are not taking the right path in life. The shards need to be rectified, and they can only be done so by accepting the Will of Hashem.
Therefore, pain serves the very important purpose of breaking our egos, which prevent us from seeing reality by what it really is, learning and growing.
So here’s the great irony of all, as explained by Rabbi Tzadok.
If you get this, it will completely change your life, promise:
When we accept Hashem’s decrees of not deserving something, we might actually get it.
As completely counter-intuitive and absurd as it sounds, that’s how Divine Providence works. Like we saw before, Hashem transcends our comprehension and when we take this truth to heart, we so to speak “go up”. According to the Rabbi Tzadok HaKohen from Lublin, this is the meaning of “Tell the people to travel forward”. This expression also has the connotation of “Tell the people to travel up!” (because the verb also has this meaning).
However, this has to be done genuinely, from the bottom of one’s heart. It’s worth noting that one who pretends to “accept” only in order to get what he wants, won’t get it. Heaven knows those who try to cheat the system (and probably laughs at them too).
So acceptance is a very deep and important concept to keep in mind.
While it’s important to face reality and receive it the way it is, it’s equally important to change it for the better. And there’s a deep art in knowing when to do each.
The end of the story
When the Hebrew people back in the desert despaired at Hashem’s decree, only one man actually understood the secret. His name was Nachshon, son of Aminadav of the Tribe of Yehuda.
As we know, Hashem destroyed the Land of Egypt with 10 plagues and performed unbelievable miracles. He did it not only for the sake of rescuing the future Jewish People, but also to teach a valuable lesson that the Creator can overturn the laws of nature as if they are nothing. Reality is completely subjugated and nullified to Him.
So, how could He, at that critical time, abandon the fledgling nation he took so much care of?
It would be crazy to think that the Creator would lead them there only to have everyone killed! So how could He abandon the people at that critical time? What were they supposed to do if not to pray more or die at the Red Sea?
The answer, as Nachshon understood, was:
“That could very well have His plan all along! And if we are to die, so we die! We accept the decree!“
In doing so, in crossing what we’d call crazy thinking, Nachshon entered the Red Sea and continued until water came up to his nose. Then the most famous miracle happened, which allowed national salvation to come: The waters of the Red Sea split, forming walls on both sides, allowing for the passing of the Israelites.
Nachson didn’t rely on his intellect, but ventured to an undiscovered, much higher level which transcends rationality, called Faith (Emunah). In doing so, he really “travelled up” to a spiritual whole new level. And that brought about the miracle.
Some people call it crazy, but then again simple folks also called prophets by the same appellation.
King Solomon already stated: “Hashem created one thing opposite the other”.
Acceptance is opposite change.
And the World to Come is opposite this world.
Moreover, the female archetype, the holy day of Shabbat and acceptance are all facets of the same concept, while the male archetype, the profane days of the week and change is the opposite side of that. Knowing how to unite both in a holy way should be our entire goal.
This duality is very well-known throughout the world, permeates all levels of reality, and has many deep ramifications. In it is the secret of ascension, of being, of receiving from above, and expanding one’s current state of consciousness.
But this should be enough meditation for now.