Wednesday, March 17, 2010

CONNECTING WITH HASHEM

The word "clinging" could have a negative connotation. If clothes cling, they are uncomfortable. If friends cling, they may be difficult to get along with. Sometimes, small children cling to the leg of their mother out of exhaustion. But, what if a person is clinging to a branch that is saving them from falling? Or clinging to the rope of a life preserver thrown to someone struggling to keep their head above water? That is definitely a time you need to cling.... and hold on tight. Clothes we can change, friends we can back away from and small children we can pick up and hug. Yet, what about those times when you cling with all your might to be saved from falling or drowning? How can we hold on? How do we know someone will appear and save us? How can we be sure? This lesson teaches us... we can be sure.

Yearning for closeness in relationships is a natural desire. What is closeness? Is it clinging like a tight, uncomfortable sweater or maybe it is knowing that we will be saved when in dire straits? We know how relationships can be difficult. In fact, the closer the relationship, the more challenging it may be.

If we look at healthy marriages of elderly couples who have been together for many years, we can see a very special bond between them. Each person knows exactly who they are, as well as, knowing the other person. They know their own qualities, quirky ways, desires, and personalities. They also know everything about the other person. They share a special closeness that seems as if they are one. Even though, each one individually yearns to be a separate and unique individual, together they blend symbiotically. What enables these two separate people to develop this type of closeness? One in which they are able to give themselves over completely to another individual. There is no score card, there is no ego. They are able to serve without feeling like a servant. They are able to give without feeling cheated. Each one gives to the other with pure and complete joy. In fact, the act of giving, in and of itself, stimulates joy within their soul. All for the opportunity to attach and become closer.

Maybe it's because they are certain and secure in knowing they will be loved in return. There is no doubt. Each one knows they are unique, special and individual in their own characteristics. At the same time, they are able to give, serve and cling to another human being. There is a certainty in knowing. As each one is unique and knows them self, each one knows and understands the other person. They know with absolute certainty, without a doubt, that the other person will be ever-present to be supportive, kind, compassionate, understanding and loving. They know and feel sure that the other one will appear and throw them a life preserver if they are bouncing around in rough waters. Or, if they lose their grip and let go of the branch.... someone will appear to catch them.

Each one knows the other, as well as they know themselves.
Each one knows and is aware of the totality of the other.
It's not about- what can you do for me but, what can I do for you.
They recognize the goodness of each other and experience deep gratitude.
This enlightened appreciation stimulates joy and brings them closer.
They become inspired to give, purely and spiritually.
There is a natural yearning in their soul to give, knowing it will make the other one happy.
From this knowledge, appreciation, gratitude and natural yearning... they give.
And from it, they achieve a deeply intimate closeness.
They give themselves over, completely and joyfully.

Sounds like a fairy-tale? Or maybe something only a few lucky people get to experience in their lifetime? Not everyone is blessed with such a long, loving close relationship with another human being. Just imagine, the feeling of such a special intimacy. Imagine your intellect, heart and body unified in the joy of experiencing this closeness. You can almost feel your entire being radiating with joy.

It is not a fairy-tale. It is true and can become your reality. It is available to us. All we have to do is know our unique holiness, appreciate all the goodness, experience the joy and live to give through mitzvot (chesed, tefillah, tzedekah, teshuva/acts of kindness, prayer/charity/repentance). When we do, we can experience the totality of ourself coming closer and closer and.... clinging to Hashem. We can be sure, He will appear to throw us the rope and catch us if we fall.

TEXT: DEVEIKUS (Connecting to Hashem)
The above is based on two lessons (Part I/Four Components of Joy and Part II/Deveikus).

Part I: Four Components of Joy
A few weeks ago, we celebrated Purim. Rabbi Miller reveals a hidden treasure from it.

In Megillah Esther, (and repeated at Havdalah/the close of every Shabbos) it is said...
"The Jews had light, happiness, joy and honor."
The light is a representation of knowledge.
Happiness is the emotion felt from appreciation of goodness.
Joy is the combination when we inspire the body to connect with the soul to perform mitzvot.
Honor is the combination of the knowledge, emotion and the body uniting together, in joy to attach ourselves, completely to Hashem.

From this, we derive a process in which to awaken the joy in our soul, to draw close and constantly connect to.... being close to Hashem. Through the recognition of the miracle of Purim, all four aspects were awakened to unify in Deveikus to Hashem.

Part II: Deveikus
It is noted that each person has an intense desire for personal excellence. We each have qualities that are unique. Not from ego, but from the soul. There is a force within our soul for spiritual specialness. Each one, a unique spiritual being. Within us, lies this strong yearning of the heart and soul. We must awaken to it and stimulate it.

Our task is to attain awareness of this uniqueness, which is in the soul, and use it to give ourselves over totally to Hashem, attaching ourselves to his His holiness and goodness. At this level, there is nothing that can separate us. We become one. There is no distinction between the two. Everything we do is solely for the purpose of becoming closer and staying connected to Hashem.

The totality of a person (the intellect, the heart and the body) becomes unified to experience the joy of knowing Hashem; our connection to Him and our constant desire to stay close, to serve Him, follow His ways and walk in His path. Through the holiness of Torah and Mussar, the spiritual life force, we light the spark in the nishama, we awaken the four spiritual components and attain the highest level of Deveikus to Hashem.
(Based on Michtav M'Eliyahu, Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler)

AVODAH: (Homework)
Each vaad customized their own avodah. Here are some ideas for you to create yours.

1) Identify one of your unique spiritual qualities (not ego-based). Enhance it, nurture it and attach to Hashem with it, through the four components. (ex; tefillah, mitzvot, chesed, brachot).
2) Focus on a mitzvah, in which you already have pleasure. Intensify the joy and connect to Hashem because of it.
3) Be aware that Hashem wants us to be happy. He wants us to operate as a spiritual person.
Realize that joy is within us. Tap into it! We don't have to search outside of ourselves (material or physical, people, places and things) to make us happy.
4) Imagine using this process to experience joy on a constant basis.
5) Realize it's a privilege to serve Hashem and experience HIs goodness. Revel in the joy.
6) Visualize your entire being radiating with joy. Feel the light of the Shechinah shining on you. Tzadikim would attach themselves through the joy of seeing the face of the Shechinah shining upon you, like the sun. Feel yourself basking in the light.
7) Sanctify your life!


May we all be blessed to experience the joy of knowing, feeling and giving ourselves over completely... and constantly to Hashem.
May He constantly appear in holiness, goodness, kindness and blessings... to throw us the lifeline and rescue us if we stumble.






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