Receiving for the Purpose of Giving

In the previous article, we learned that making a blessing is all about increasing one's awareness of God as the source of the experience that the individual is blessing Him on.

Taking this a step further, when a person blesses on food, and recognizes God as the source of the pleasure he is receiving from that food, and uses its energy for goodly and Godly pursuits, it turns out that the receiving and in-taking he is doing is for the purpose of giving forth and producing positively.

This is described in Kabbalistic terminology as 'Receiving for the Purpose of Giving'.

On the grand scale, this Kabbalistic paradigm is the understanding that we start off forced, in a sense, into the receiving role because we are complete dependants—constantly receiving our surroundings, sustenance, and entire essence, from God.

The truth is that, at first, this sounds like the perfect role for us in relation to God—God gives, humanity receives, and everyone is happy.

However, when we look deeper this raises a difficulty.

If all we want in life is the Parent-Child type of relationship with God, perhaps the Giver-Receiver model presented here would be ideal. However, if one desires, as is the Jewish approach, a higher level of relationship with God, a relationship similar to a Spousal Relationship, we find that similarities are what breed relationship.

Obviously, there are those who claim that opposites attract and there is truth to that, but attraction is not the foundation for a lasting relationship; common principles, goals, and aspirations are. After all, if you were to set up an extremely evil person with an extremely good person, the relationship would quickly break down; Mother Teresa and Adolf Hitler are not getting together anytime soon.

On the conceptual level, we can see this clearly. One only forms an affiliation with the concept of "Nice" by being nice; to the extent one acts nice, he is one with the concept of Nice. To the extent he is not nice, there is no affiliation. To the extent he acts cruel, he puts up barriers between him and Nice.

The same applies in my affiliation with God.

If I want to form an oneness affiliation with the Ultimate Giver, that requires me to give. Herein lies the problem: I am the ultimate receiver! I am dependant on God for everything! How am I supposed to form an affiliation of oneness with God if I am the exact opposite of God, if God is the Ultimate Giver and I am the ultimate receiver?

Receiving for the Purpose of Giving
The Kabbalistic answer to this question is to receive for the purpose of giving. That means to give of myself with everything that I have been given.

So, does this mean I am supposed to give away all the money I have received?

No. The Torah and all of Judaism is coming to teach how exactly to give that which you have received to increasingly become a manifestation of Godliness here in the physical realm.

What this means is proper involvement with that which I have received for the purpose of that which is beyond me. A blessing is a move in this direction—to partake and use a food, act, or situation to increase God awareness and appreciation; to give of one's self through that which he is receiving; to be involved with the physical yet not engrossed nor owned by it.

The Freedom of a Blessing
This is the unique capacity of the human being. The fact that the human being can partake of the physical yet live above it is something that only we can do. In Jewish terms, this is what we refer to as freedom.

People think that freedom means a freedom from all restraints, that freedom means "if it feels good do it." However, a follower of this path in the end, too, is but a follower, a slave to his body and inclinations. The truly free human being is the one who can exist within the physical—with its desires and difficulties—yet not be subject to the physical dictating his every move. To physically exist within the tangible and use it to reveal the spiritual that lies beyond it.

This is the function of a blessing. It is to take in a permitted and "kosher" pleasure and turn it around to increase God-awareness in a God-based sensual world, thereby manifesting the unique soul capacity of the human being. This is holiness.

3/24/2011 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.