A Little Give-and-Take with God

In an earlier article we explained that the human being is, in a sense, the "clothes" of God. Just as the Kabbalistic significance of clothes is to cover up what it truly there and to project an impression about how we want to be manifest before others, so too, the world and the human soul serve the functions of enclothing God—to conceal God's true essence yet project God's attributes outward.

Walking with God
To live with Kabbalah means to put on one's clothes and be infused by their message.

The statement of clothes is that I, as an aspect of the Divine (i.e., a soul), work to become what clothes are truly supposed to be—an enclothment of the one that the clothes embody. Just as the essence of clothes is to move with the movements of the wearer, thereby acting as an expression of the wearer, so too I tap into my inner essence by moving in God-stride, thereby acting as an expression of the Wearer.

(Interestingly, the numerical value of the Hebrew word for prayer shawl, talit, equals that of the "backronym" (end letters) of the verse, "And God said, 'Let there be light'" hinting to the connection between the talit, i.e., the "clothes" of the Jew, and the light of creation, i.e., the illumination of one's essential Godliness and the perceptibility of God in the world.)

To live this life of God-projection is ultimately to be true to oneself as an aspect of the clothing of God. It does not matter who is present or if anyone is watching. This is true dignity and true modesty—being an outward expression of your true inner essence. This is being true to your self.

Nothing can be more rewarding than being involved in this process of personal actualization and growing into who you really are for no reason other than because this is the reality of who you are. Just as the inner "will" of a seed is for nothing other than to grow into the actualized expression of what it already is inside, so too, the human being is a spiritual seed; at the core of the human being is a will that wants nothing other than to grow into the actualized expression of what it already is inside.

Right-Left Paradigm
Perhaps this Wearer-Clothes relationship and growth process is why, in Judaism, we put on everything in a 'Right-Left-Middle' format. For example, when putting on shoes, we put on the right shoe first and then the left shoe, then tie the left shoe and then tie the right shoe.

Kabbalistically, 'Right' and 'Left' are concepts. They correspond to 'Proactive Giver' and 'Constraining Receiver'. At first 'Proactive Giver' sounds great and 'Constrictive Receiver' sounds terrible, but, as we will demonstrate, they need each other.

Middle Ground
Thank God, I have been blessed with the opportunity to have many students and travelers as guests at my Shabbat table over the last number of years. My wife, Chana, and I have been given the ability and responsibility of sharing the meaningfulness and warmth of the Shabbat experience with thousands of people around the globe, coming from all different backgrounds and cultures.

However, at regular intervals my wife and I enter into a conversation evaluating whether or not there is more we can do. Usually the conversation begins with me saying that we should take in more guests, "What difference does it make if there are only eighteen spots for seating at the table? We can fit four more at the corners and, if need be, move the tables over a tad to make room for a third table. So it will be a bit of a squeeze, but we will be able to include more people for dinner!" At that point Chana responds with, "Yes, but if everyone is squeezed and the room is overcrowded, we are going to turn the experience from a meaningful Shabbat dinner to an uncomfortable soup kitchen."

This is a classic example of the struggle between the conceptual Right and the conceptual Left. Without the forthcomingness and giving of Right there is nothing, but if all you have is the ongoing giving of the Right then you never actually end up with a practical result; you may have quantity but you have nothing of quality.

In order to truly attain something of worth, what is needed is to cap the giving; only then is the giving truly accomplished. For example, if someone who had an endless amount of money agreed to hand you one $100 bill per minute as long as you stand in front of him, would you ever leave? But, if you stand in front of this gentleman for all eternity and never actually leave to spend the money, then what worth could the money truly have to you? Only by leaving (resulting in a stoppage to the flow of money) does the money actually attain its true intended value.

This is the 'Right-Left-Middle' paradigm of balance expressed in Kabbalah. We initiate the process with the Right, finalize the process with the Left, and this brings about the purpose of the process—the 'Middle', a synthesis of the two.

3/30/2011 4:00:00 AM
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  • Eliyahu Yaakov
    About Eliyahu Yaakov
    Rabbi Eliyahu Yaakov is a sought after international speaker on Kabbalah, relationships, parenting, and life. His newly released book, Jewish By Choice: A Kabbalistic Take on Life & Judaism, recently hit #1 on Amazon's Best Seller list.