Chassidic Psychologymain posts

You are Important to God!

Humility is the basic foundation of service of God and is a necessary ingredient in all our spiritual pursuits and endeavors beginning with its role in the rectification of our character traits and continuing with its importance in nullifying our sense of self so that we can overcome the evil inclination, abstain from sin, and fulfill the commandments—even when we’re not in the mood to do so. And yet, misplaced humility is what destroyed the Temple. To make a dwelling place for God here in the lower realms, which is the ultimate goal of creation, we have to beware of misguided humility. Most importantly, there is no room for humility that casts a doubt on the importance of our actions in God’s eyes and keeps us from taking action.

Hence, the first law (quoted from the Mishna) in the Code of Jewish Law relates to how a Jew should wake up in the morning. He should contemplate the fact that a great King is above him, watching all his deeds—all of which are important and dear to Him. A Jew is instructed to, “Be bold as a leopard,”[1]  in the face of all those who ridicule him (including his internal ridiculers, doubters, and enthusiasm-sappers). How does this boldness not contradict humility?

Our teacher, the Ba’al Shem Tov, taught that a person must contemplate that God is watching his lips, waiting for him to speak words of Torah and prayer. And when he does speak those words, God kisses him on the lips with love. When the origin of our bold actions and self-esteem comes from our connection to God, there is no danger that pride or feelings of separation from God will plague us. A Jew’s good deeds and sweet speech create angels and draw great abundance down into the worlds. Yet, when the origin is indeed our connection with the Almighty, all of this abundance pales in comparison to the light experienced from the truly important, precious state of kissing God.

This comes into even greater focus when we understand that from God’s perspective, the main thing is the kiss—the connection with His beloved children. The Maggid of Mezritch said that God loves every Jew, as he or she is, and takes pleasure in him or her, in every state, to such a great extent that his or her form is figuratively engraved in God. It is with this form that He eventually reveals Himself to that Jew. When we left Egypt with immature, contracted consciousness, God was revealed to us as a young warrior. When the Jewish people quickly matured, at Mt. Sinai, He revealed Himself to us as an elder, filled with compassion. Thus, God presents Himself, as it were, whether “young” or “old” or “small” or “big” depending on the individual state of each individual Jew.

The boldness and courage needed to cherish and treasure the commandments originate in the first of the Ten Commandments, “I am Havayah your God, who has taken you out of the Land of Egypt, from a house of bondage.”[2] The First Commandment establishes a personal connection between every Jew and God’s very substance, as it were. The proper humility that allows us to nullify everything but God, is meant to be taken from the Second Commandment, “You shall not have foreign gods before Me.”[3] In this manner, we merit boldness and humility together. The boldness precedes humility as in the famous Shabbat morning liturgical poem HaAderet VehaEmunah, “The boldness and the humility belong to He who gives Life to the world.”

It is up to our faculty of knowledge (da’at), our consciousness, to balance our sense of importance and our humility, all while unifying us with God—a feat that is unique to the Jewish people. The ultimate goal of this unified balance is “that all the nations of the earth may know that Havayah is God.”[4] Through our efforts to use both humility and boldness properly, we heal the sense of separation from God that plagues the nations of the world and reveal to all that “God is One.”

[1] Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 1:1.

[2] Exodus 20:2.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Kings I, 8:60.

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