How to Develop Your God-Connections

The following text by Reb Zalman is for this week’s Torah portion, Shabbos Lech Lecha.  (Click here for Hebrew/English version).  [Notes by Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor]:

Go out … to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). 

And, indeed, there is, at times, some influence that will make some faint impression upon us.

[Note:  An impression, or an inspiration.  We are being asked to relate this text to those experiences we have had as interactions with the divine, or God-connections.  Gabbai Seth]

Just as when someone snaps a picture, and until the film is developed, the picture can’t be seen, and not even if the camera is opened to the light at which time the faint impression is destroyed. 

For this reason, Hashem Yisborach said to him:  “Leave your land,” and this is like the developer, “your birthplace” stop bath, “your father’s house” – fixer, “to the land that I will show you,” and later (ibid 18:1) “and Havaye appeared to him in Elone Mamre,” i.e., Hashem became visible.

[Note:  For photos, the developer converts the latent image to metallic silver, the stop bath is a solution to set the proper contrast and the fixer makes the image permanent. 

In order to take hold of the inspiration, to get it clear, to internalize it, we must sort through our root metaphors so that our connection to the source of all being will become clear and strong.  Like Abraham, the root metaphors which we have when we enter adulthood come from influences of country (artzecha), an indigenous culture (moladiticha) or religion (beis avicha).]

Now each person has hir individual attribute (Sefirah) according to the root of hir soul “[You made wraps for the Ten S’firot] from whence blossom forth souls for the sons of men.”  (cf, discourse Patach Eliyahu / “Elijah began”, Tikunei Zohar 17. )  [Click here to see Reb Zalman’s translation of this text in its entirety.]  And so Hashem Yitbarach  said to Abraham our father (may he rest in peace) (Genesis 15:1) “I am thy shield.” [Do not fear for] you will also get to see Him again when you will lose your attribute at the end of malchut sheb’chesed,

[NOTE:  Chesed is associated with Avraham Avinu as per his preoccupation with Gemilut Chassadim / acts of generosity.  When we count Sefirot from Chesed to Malchut the last stop in the week of Chesed is Malchut Sheb’Chesed.  After that, we are in the week of Gevurah, the attribute of YitzchakGabbai Seth]

as seasons will shift and times will change; do not be afraid for I, as implied [in my unity], am thy Shield, that although, for you, there may be only a part,

[NOTE:  It is difficult to see beyond the parts to the whole in which they are rooted, i.e. we will experience Chesed/Gevurah as either/or.]

for Me, nothing is lost: I am also the Anochi of Chesed Sheb’Gevurah.  For the quality of the Anochi is beyond the individual attributes, and when all is said and done, (Isaiah 51:12) “I am S/He Who comforts you.” 

But the men of Sodom were evil and sinful — before Hashem exceedingly” (Genesis 13:13). 

Once on the holiday of Purim, when papa (z’l) went to gather donations on behalf of the decent poor and to free those imprisoned, there was one miserly man who skirted us by pretending he was praying the Amidah; and  quietly to him, papa (z’l) whispered the phrase, “‘the men of Sodom were evil and sinful,’ but they looked like they were in devekut  — ‘before Hashem exceedingly.'”

The first prayer in tanach was that of Abraham Avinu on behalf of Sodom (ibid 18:23).  And why didn’t S/He affirmatively comply regarding that which they requested? The answer to this question is that the situation shows that prayer by itself does not influence if it is not aligned with God’s will and there’s no other significance to this than “Our eyes [look toward and] depend upon You, etc.”  (Rosh Hashanah Mussaf prayer).

[NOTE:  I.e. We don’t pray to get God to do something, like a cosmic bellhop.  We pray because we are in a relationship and we love to let God know what is in our hearts (and we are respectful of the power of that place).]

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
from Yishmiru Daat (2009 revision),
Parashat Lech Lecha,” p. 30

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