In the previous article, we discussed that there are two "sides" to the Infinite. There is the 'Beyond' perspective: God is perfect and beyond all possibility of being anything other than perfect. And there is the 'Within' perspective: God is so perfectly beyond that He can be within the seeming imperfections of this world, yet not limited to being within them.
And, as souls inhabiting a body in this seemingly imperfect world, we each, with our own deficiencies and gifts, act as unique irreplaceable characters reflecting God in this realm in which it was possible to choose an alternative path. Thus, it is not simply that there is a 'Within' perspective of God, but I am the 'Within' perspective of God. When I choose to go with my Godly soul-side even in this world of dilemma, there is no greater manifestation of God. After all, how good would God really be if He did not have the choice to opt for an alternative to that which is the ultimate good?
So, while most of the world views God as some bearded lightning bolt wielding egotistical maniac whose goal is to make my life miserable, it comes out that it's not that there is two of us—me and God. Rather, it's really all one; each of us are aspects of the 'Within' side of God, and thus, each of us are infinitely valuable and real players in the God story.
As we discussed in the first article, while sleeping I lose sight of all this. While asleep, I become as one who has amnesia. I may be physically at home, but I am lost. I may be sitting with my dearest friend who knows me better than anyone else, but I am in another world.
How can I be involved in this Divine dynamic if I am unaware of it? How can I actualize my infinite potential if I am spiritually asleep?
The most effective way out of this numbed state is to hear the spiritual alarm clock and answer the call of the shofar—to reawaken clarity of who I am. Once I regain consciousness and refocus, I contemplate and meditate on my soul-self and what I am doing here. I am empowered by the Divinity within and I have it in front of me always because this is the essence of who I am and what I am.
From that point on, whatever happens to me in my day is equally good and equally God—arranged by God for God—of which I am a part. There is no longer the illusion of a conflict of interest between me and God, because all that comes my way is an opportunity for me to express my Godliness in the unique way that only I can in the distinct circumstances I have been dealt. I realize my infinite value in the fact that there is a manifestation of God-clarity I can bring out into the world that has no other expression other than through me.
By waking up in a strong way and not hitting the snooze button, I make the statement that just as God is beyond the limits of time, I, too, can stretch those limits by assuming the attitude that I am not going to be "pushed around" by time. Rather, I will act with fervor in my day's dealings as if to say that while I may be stuck in the thick of time, I am not going to be engrossed by it.
Instead, I am going to wakeup like a lion—with ferocious strength.
Kabbalisticly, strength implies strength over one's self. The Jewish concept is that the true measure of a person's strength is not in their outer power, but in their inner power. For one person to beat another person in a duel of brute force, involving no other skill whatsoever, says nothing about who they are. In a sense, such a duel is determined before the duel ever begins; whoever has bigger muscles wins. However, were someone to have the opportunity to exercise his will over another in an inappropriate manner, yet manage to overcome that temptation, such an exercising of inner power is our assessment of one's true level of strength. The exterior power is already determined; it tells us nothing about who the person is. It is the interior power that gets our attention and respect. This is true personal power.
In that sense, the call of the shofar is to wake up like a lion. Realize what you are and who you could be, then take your life into your hands. Exercise will and inner strength and act with a zeal for life. Humbly thank God for the opportunity of a new day and for His having faith in you as a unique aspect of Himself.
People think Judaism is all about you having faith in God, but it is equally about God's having faith in you. In Western culture, faith has been mis-defined to mean something you think or hope is true; yet you may be right and you may be wrong. What Judaism means by faith, however, is that there is something true and, to the extent one conducts oneself in accordance with that truth, that is the extent of that person's faith; to the extent one is faithful to what is, that is their level of faith. So, faith has nothing to do with the question of whether or not something is true; that has already been determined. The only question of faith is how much you are living with that truth in a real way.
Therefore, when we wake up in the morning and say thanks to God for having faith in us to give us another day, we are not saying that God has "blind faith" in our ability to exemplify excellence and maybe He is right for having that faith or maybe He is wrong. Rather, we are saying that the truth is that we are the potential that God sees in us and God is acting in good faith with that truth by giving us new life and new opportunities for Divine Service and the actualization of the reality of who we are on this new day.
2/10/2011 5:00:00 AM