In a previous article, we pointed out that this time period between the holiday of Passover to the holiday of Shavuot that we presently find ourselves in is a time period of extra emphasis on personal refinement. It is a time when we are involved in a climb from Animal Living to Human Living. Or, to put it another way, it is a time in which we are focused on moving from living unconsciously and being reactive to living consciously and being proactive.
Taking this a step deeper, the Kabbalists break down the individual to three components: mind, heart, and body. Or, to put it another way: rational, emotional, and physical.
The body, expressed in physical action, is where one's traits come to be seen and manifest, however, it is the emotions of the heart from which they stem. For this reason, the Zohar states that "God wants the heart," meaning that it is a person's emotions and passions that determine in which direction he is going to go.
If the individual aligns his heart with his mind, he will see that it is one's relationship with God that is really meaningful. When a person is in touch with this rational side of himself, he becomes passionate about his spiritual growth, and his traits and actions come to reflect that. Such an individual begins to define the word "good" differently. No longer does he interpret "good" as a taste, television show, concert, or sports event. While all of these might be fine forms of entertainment, they are not "good."
"Good" is qualitative. It is that which is worth investing one's time and effort into. It is that which is ultimately valuable.
For this reason, Proverbs refers to the Torah as that which is "good," and as a "tree of life."
That is to say, when we are clear on the reality of God and we see ourselves in the proper light—i.e., as souls with a limited amount of time to build our relationship with God and bring out the inner essence of who we are here in this world—we come to define the word "good" in the truest possible way. We come to see that which is meaningful and the goal as "life."
It is at that point that our heart aligns with our mind, and our physical actions and traits flow from there.
In particular, this comes to pass upon a near-death experience.
Anyone who has been blessed with a near-death experience (yes, it is a blessing) has come to feel what we are discussing here in a very real way. All of a sudden what people are saying about you and think about you is irrelevant; who wins the Super Bowl and the World Cup is a non-factor, and you couldn't care less what Justin Bieber is driving, what Lady Gaga is wearing, or what Kim Kardashian is doing. All of this nonsense falls away, and what you are left with is you—who are you and who have you been?
And when you come out of such an experience, the challenge is to keep that clarity, focus, and self-awareness—to keep your heart aligned with your mind; your emotional side in sync with your rational side; and your definition of "good" stemming from the clarity of consciousness you've been blessed to achieve.
Note: Rabbi Eliyahu Yaakov's newly released book Jewish by Choice: A Kabbalistic Take on Life & Judaism is available here on Amazon.
5/2/2012 4:00:00 AM