Monday, November 14, 2011


The Greatest Symphony
Last week we began a new series on "harmony" in relationships with Rabbi Zvi Miller. The topic "harmonious relationships" brings to mind a beautiful vision of peace and love while at the same time, it also delivers a punch in the gut. It tears at our heart strings because it is something we yearn for, yet we feel the punch because it is something we do not know how to achieve.
Our lives are a symphony. Hashem is the Great Conductor. Each one of us has been given an instrument to play in the Great Orchestra of Life. He composed the music for us. He gives it to us. Each one has been given a different sheet of music according to our own instrument. We follow His lead as He stands before us. We look at our music while we envision the sounds that we form with our own instrument. The sounds that join together with all the others to create the grand symphony. As different as each one is, as different as the sounds that we form, our goal is to join together with all the others to create the ultimate symphony... life.
Only in togetherness can we create the majestic melody. Together we determine the quality of the finished piece. The vision of "harmony" is one that flows as it rises and falls, one that sways united. It joins with the opposites as it blends with the similar. The end result is a flowing rhythm of differences coming together in unison to give birth to an enchanting melody.
Only through the use of my own instrument will I be able to achieve my own individual greatness. I can only become the great musician of my life when I learn to blend harmoniously with those that surround me.
The first mussar lesson teaches us how to use the instrument Hashem has given us. It gives us the skills, the tools and the knowledge to understand how we are responsible for the harmony we create in our lives.
The text (from the lesson) tells us the story of Elkanah the Prophet (the father of Shmuel the Prophet) who went up from his city to worship Hashem in Shilo. The Midrash explains the words, "And the man went up- He elevated himself in his home. He elevated himself in his courtyard, he elevated himself in his city, he elevated himself in all of Yisrael- and all of his spiritual attainments and elevations were by virtue of his own effort."
Our Sages have enlightened us with a very deep insight. The first step towards spiritual growth and service of Hashem begins with how a person conducts himself with his family members! For we see that the first step in Elkanah's spiritual ascent was, "And he elevated himself in his home," meaning that the only way to achieve our ultimate greatness is by how we conduct ourselves in our home.
The nuclear family, which should be the center of all relationships, has collapsed. We feel the lack and the pain of relationships which are not harmonious. The Torah offers tremendous wisdom and advice to lead us on the path towards attaining fulfilling relationships which will bring much joy to our experience as human beings.
The Sages reveal that people who surround us, especially those with whom we share our home, have a very specific purpose. HaShem put them in our midst. Therefore, we should make sure to give them our full sensitivity, attention, and creativity. HaShem put them near us so we can live together. That in itself, is a message from HaShem that our family members hold the key to our spiritual growth and character development. The family (the home) is our workshop.

The purpose of relationships is to become more sensitive, not less sensitive. Not more aloof, but more aware and more sensitive to our family members. Our family members are an impetus for our growth. By using our family workshop as a stimulus for our growth, we can reach great heights, just as we saw that Elkanah started the foundation of his spiritual ascent by giving serious attention and thought on how to best relate to those in his home; to love, educate, and care for his family.
"You are what you think. Master your thoughts, elevate them to a holy perspective to transform yourself."
The mind is always in action, the thought process is constant. When you look at what is in front of you, the thought process begins, you think about what you see. As HaShem created us- we live in two worlds; the physical world and the spiritual world. Since we are rooted in the physical world, we think physical. You have to work to connect to the spiritual part of yourself, to think from a spiritual perspective. When you think in a material way all the bodily forces are in conflict, whether it's jealousy, anger, selfishness or ego; there's no peace. If we learn to connect to the Tzelem Elokim (being created in the Image of Hashem) with the pure holiness which is the essence of ourselves, we can think in those terms. Think only about HaShem, about chesed and about the wisdom of the Torah. That is when you become immediately elevated. Not only your mind, but your entire body changes. This is the path to spirituality, to teach how to think and how to control one's thoughts.
It is true. By mastering our thoughts and directing them towards a holy perspective, you can literally transform yourself. (based on transcript of Lesson One).
May the harmony you create in your home permeate through every aspect of your life, creating a flowing melodic symphony of love and peace in your world and the world around you.

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