Y’hi Hashem Elokeinu Imonu: Part Three; Personal Relationship With the Divine

Y’hi Hashem Elokeinu Imonu: Part Three; Personal Relationship With the Divine

Part Three: Personal Relationship With the Divine. Humility and Self-Sacrifice

“ג) דְהִינֵה הַטַעֲם עֲל זֶה שׁהַיִרְאָה בָּאָה בּעִיקָר עֲל-יְדֵי עֲבוֹדַת הָאָדָם, יֵשׁ לוֹמַר, כִּי יִרְאָה הִיא בִּיטוּל. וּבְּפְרַט יִרְאַת הַמֶלֶךְ, ״שֹוֹם תָּשִֹים עָלֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ״ שֶׁתְּהֵא אֵימָתוֹ עָלֶיךָ

The reason why fear is specifically a result of our personal effort is, that fear is humility: especially the fear associated with a king. 

A possible reason why fear is humility can be understood by the following. Fear is, as defined in Chassidus, the fear of rebelling and thereby damaging the relationship one has with the king. If one wasn’t humbled and subservient to the king, then one wouldn’t mind damaging that connection. Of course, in the context of a kingdom, one would be afraid of punishment. However, fear of punishment is “lower fear.” If one is on close terms with the king, or anyone for that matter, the fear is not of punishment, but of breaking the bond itself (“higher fear”). “Higher” and “lower fear” both fall into the definition of not wanting to break the bond and therefore require a person to set aside their personal inclinations. (Tanya, ch. 41.)

“You shall surely appoint a king,” (Devorim, 17:15), means,“The trepidation of him should be upon you,” (Sanhedrin, 22a).

שֶׁהַבִּיטוּל דְּיִרְאָה זוּ קָשׁוּר עִם זֶה שֶׁהוּא עֲבְדוֹ שֶׁל הַמֶלֶךְ [דְּטֶּבַע הָעֶבֶד הוּא שֶׁאֵימַת וְפַחַד הָאָדוֹן עָלָיו], שֶׁהַבִּיטוּל דְּעֶבֶד הוּא בִּיטוּל בְּתַּכְלִית, וְלָכֵן הִיא בָּאָה עֲל-יְדֵי הָאָדָם דַּוְּקָא, כִּי הַפְּעוּלָה שֶׁנַעֲשִֹית בָּאָדָם עֲל-יְדֵי גִּילוּי אוֹר מִלְמַעֲלָה הִיא כְּמּוֹ דָּבָר נוֹסֵף עָלָיו, וְלָכֵן הַשִׁינוּי שֶׁנַעֲשֶֹה בּוֹ עֲל-יְדֵי-זֶה הוּא רַק בְּהַצִיוּר שֶׁלוֹ, אַבָל לֹא שִׁינוּי בְּהָאָדָם עֲצְמוֹ,

The humility with this kind of fear is related to the fact that the individual who has taken on the king’s yoke is, in effect, his servant (the nature of a servant is to have trepidation from his master).

The humility a servant has to his master is a complete one, therefore, it has to be motivated from within the servant. When a person inspired and affected by a revelation of Light from on High (or from his environment, for that matter), the effect is only an added element to the individual. Therefore the transformation effected on a person is only superficial and not of the person’s core being.

If one is imposed with fear, it may be strong, but it won’t be meaningful or lasting. The fear which is imposed affects only the way the person acts. The purpose of Chassidus is to change the nature of one’s character (Kuntres Inyono Shel Toras HaChassidus). Fear that is self-motivated, through contemplation and the like, will be permanent.

וּבְּכְדֵי שֶׁיָבוֹא לְבְּיטוּל בּתַּכְלִית, בִּיטוּל דְּעֶבֶד [שֶׁהַחִילוּק בֵּין בֶּן חוֹרִין לְעֶבֶד הוּא בֱּעֶצֶם מְצִּיאוּתוֹ], הוּא עֲל-יְדֵי שֶׁהָאָדָם עֲצְמוֹ מְקַבֵל עָלָיו לְהְיוֹת עֲבְדוֹ שֶׁל הַמֶלֶךְ

In order for humility to be real, complete, and lasting, like the humility of a servant to his master, the individual has to accept the yoke his or herself. (The difference between a free man and a slave is essential). The person has to decide that they want to be a servant of the King.

וְיֵשׁ לוֹמַר שֶׁעֲל-דֶּרֶךְ-זֶה הוּא בְּמְסִרַת נֶפֶשׁ, דְּכִּיוָן שֶׁמְסִרַת נֶפֶשׁ הוּא בִּיטוּל בְּתַּכְלִית, וּבְּפְרַט כְּשְׁהַמְסִרַת נֶפֶשׁ הִיא עֲל עִנְיָּנִים כָּאֵלֶה שׁעֲל-פִּי דִין (צִיווּי דְּלְמַעֲלָה) אֵין מְחוּיָיב לִמְסוֹר נַפְשוֹ עֲלֵיהֶם, לָכֵן הִיא (בְּעִיקָר) לֹא עֲל-יְדֵי גִּילוּי אוֹר מִלְמַעֲלָה אֶלָא עֲל-יְדֵי שֶׁהָאָדָם מוֹסֵר אֶת נַפְשׁוֹ

The same system applies to self-sacrifice. Self-sacrifice is a complete humility, especially since the self-sacrifice is such, that even halachically (the command from on High), one is not required to sacrifice oneself. It is a result of one’s decision. Therefore, self-sacrifice (primarily) is not a result of revelation of Light from on High, but of the person who sacrifices their self.

Sacrificing oneself is complete humility because of the personal decision involved.

וְעֲל-פִּי-זֶה יוּבָן עוֹד יוֹתֵר שֶׁהַבַּקָשָׁה וְהַתְּפִלָּה דְּבַּעֲל הַגְּאוּלָה (בְּהַשִֹיחָה דְג’ תַּמוּז) הָיְתָה בְּלְשׁוֹן הַכָּתוּב ״יְהִי הַוֲיֶ’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ עִמָּנוּ כַּאֲשֶׁר הָיָה עִם אֲבוֹתֵינוּ,״ כִּי דִּיבֵר אָז בְּעִנְיָן הָעֲבוֹדָה דְּמְסִרַת נֶפֶשׁ, וּבָּזֶה עֲצְמוֹ בְּכַּמָּה וְכַּמָּה עִנְיָנִים שֶׁעֲל-פִּי דִּין אֵין מְחוּיָיב לִמְסוֹר נַפְשׁוֹ עֲלֵיהֶם שֶׁבָּאָה (בְּעִיקָר) מֵהָאָדָם עֲצְמוֹ

Accordingly, we can further understand why the request and prayer of the Ba’al HaG’ula (the Frierdiker Rebbe, in his sicha of Gimmel Tammuz) were in the wording of the verse, “May G-d, our G-d be with us just as he was with our forefathers.” There, the Frierdiker Rebbe was speaking about self-sacrifice. Within self-sacrifice itself there are plenty of situations in which Jewish law doesn’t require it, therefore self-sacrifice is motivated from within the individual.

וְכִּיוָן שֱׁבֱּהָעֲבוֹדָה דְּמְסִרַת נֶפֶשׁ הָעִיקָר הוּא עֲבוֹדַת הָאָדָם, וְהַגִּילוּי אוֹר מִלְמַעֲלָה הוּא מְסַיֵיעַ לֲעֲבוֹדַת הָאָדָם, לָכֵן הִתְחִיל בְּקַשְׁתּוֹ וּתְּפִלָּתוֹ (בְּלְשׁוֹן הֲכָּתוּב) ״יְהִי הַוֲיֶ’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ עִמּנוּ 

Since the service of self-sacrifice is primarily the personal effort, the revelation of Light from Above is just there to help us along the way. Therefore, the Frierdiker Rebbe began the sicha (in the language of the possuk), “May G-d, our G-d be with us.”

In short, humility, self-sacrifice, and accepting the yoke of G-d’s reign are, and can only be motivated from within the individual. Environmental inspiration doesn’t have a lasting effect because doesn’t change the person at the core of their being.

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