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Serving God in Each Dimension

The Ba’al Shem Tov teaches that reality is comprised of three dimensions: Worlds, Souls, and Divinity. We have to be present in each dimension and truly serve God within its parameters – without self-deception.

In the dimension of Divinity, we turn to God directly, in the second person: “Blessed are You.” This is the most important point in prayer: “Pour out. your heart like water before the Face of God.” When we turn to God directly, we bring ourselves, as we truly are. Standing before God bare of our pretensions requires great self-sacrifice. We stand, lowly and devoted, before the infinite God. Standing before God at this level of truth is a source of healing. The feeling of God’s presence strengthens and comforts us. Turning to God in the second person should accompany us throughout the day, in all of our prayers. God is, as it were, opposite us and not just above us. He is present and part of our lives. He also makes demands of us and speaks to us constantly.

The dimension of souls: There are several verses in the Torah that are the foundation of how we relate to others. This is the soul connection: “You shall not go up and down as a talebearer among your people; neither shall you stand idly by the blood of your neighbor: I am God. You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am God” (Leviticus 19:16-18). Tale-bearing turns the subject of the tale into an estranged object. This can even reach the point of ignoring him – even when he is in danger. The opposite of hatred in the heart, which is concerned with what “he” did to me, is “you shall surely rebuke your neighbor” – turning to someone else in the second person, direct and respectful communication between the rebuker and the person he is rebuking (as is required by Jewish law), When rebuking someone according to Jewish law, it must be done with a feeling of closeness and equality toward the person being rebuked (as the Alter Rebbe emphasizes). When rebuking someone, we must make them present (להנכיח same root as הוכח “rebuke”). We must turn to him “and not bear sin because of him.” Then we merit “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” – literally as yourself, with equality between ‘me’ and ‘you.’ In essence, when we turn to ‘you,’ the other person, we are turning to his soul, “a literal part of God.” We reveal it and make it present.

The dimension of worlds: Fulfilling our mission in this world is contingent upon our ability to see reality as it is, without false imagination, presumptions, or distorting life-axioms. We must apply that same realistic perspective to ourselves, to our unique characteristics, and to the talents that God gave us for our mission in this world. A direct view of the world shows us that “no bad comes down from Above.” The world is not cruel and does not seek to do us harm. It is open to change and repair. When we are willing to address reality directly as “you”, we discover God in all the worlds. We can then rectify and sweeten everything and see that all is truly for the best.

When we say “you”, we emerge from “I” and its restrictions. Addressing reality directly frees us of false imagination and allows us to also face ourselves directly – with neither self-deception nor self-hate. When we emerge from our “I” we can see God everywhere and in everything. In the famous words of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev in his song, Dudaleh: You (God) are above, You are below, You are to the north, You are to the south. If things are good, it is You, if God forbid not, it is You, You, You.”


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