Accepting our Mental Limitations

Don't weaken your mind by trying too hard to understand things that are above your ability to comprehend.

Our minds are limited, they function within a finite domain, a finite universe. As we mature and use our minds as best we can our mental universe expands, and the expansion factor grows, accelerates. But the universe remains finite.

In Kabbalah, the universe of our minds – our wisdom, understanding, and knowledge – extends upwards to include the Divine emanation of beauty (tiferet) in which is enclothed, as a soul within a body, the Creator's knowledge (da'at) of His creation.

Beauty and truth are one. Together they equal Israel (100, 102, יפי-beauty, plus 441, 212, אמת-truth = 541, the 101st prime number from 1, which equals Israel, ישראל). The name Israel permutes to spell "to me is a head" (לי ראש). This means that the upper limit, the head, of Israel, is the ability to comprehend the unity of beauty and truth, the two qualities given to Jacob, whom God named Israel.

But our finite minds cannot enter the realm of Divine reality above beauty and knowledge (of creation), the realm of God's own wisdom and understanding, "the concealed things" in the idiom of the Torah.

The example is given in Kabbalah of a porter who tries to carry more than he is physically capable of. He will become weak by the effort – physically weak and psychologically weak, frustrated at having invested so much effort in vain. He will become unable to carry even that which he was accustomed to carry in the past.

What's outside the finite universe of our minds? God's infinite light. How do we reach it? By faith, but only after having reached the border of our mental universe.

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Mike Ettinger March 3, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Gracious are your words. For the intellectual aspect of the soul, our mind, cannot grasp that which our Creator intended for our soul. However our soul can fully know that which it has been designed to know, without the incumbrance of mental allusions, for in the purity of His spirit there are no allusions, no thoughts, no words, no imaginings…for then we are not only out of our minds but also out of this world.

Barzillai March 4, 2011 at 3:02 am

2 Esdras 6:10 The beginning of a person is the hand, and the end of a person is the heel; seek nothing else, Ezra, between the heel and the hand, Ezra!

Ecc 1:18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

merachefet March 4, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Beautiful. So happy to see this blog. This reminds me of the Rambam's words from Guide for the Perplexed:

Louis Peters March 4, 2011 at 11:49 pm

Thank you for your post. An excellent read.

Rachel March 6, 2011 at 1:21 am

How do we know we are at the border of our mental universe? What sign is there for us to distinguish between "too hard" and laziness?

admin March 6, 2011 at 10:45 pm

The Rav's new post is a reply to your question…

Shiiko June 5, 2012 at 12:39 am

Mental limitation is determined by the environment and the scope of exposure to the universal concepts and perceptions


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