Is there a spiritual reason we’re facing enforced, or encouraged, social distancing? Why can’t we spend time with extended family, neighbors, and friends the ways in which we used to? We can’t even pray together! Why?
“The greatest wisdom of all is not to be clever at all. It is simply to be pure and straightforward.” —Advice, Rebbe Nachman
We live in a world of extremes. Extreme immorality and extreme violence. Extreme cynicism and extreme ignorance. Extreme fear and extreme hopelessness.
Sometimes it seems the only antidote to such powerful negativity is extreme asceticism and discipline in the form of stringent or complicated religious practices.
But Rebbe Nachman’s teachings reveal
Purim is about concealment and that which is concealed. The Megillah, which we read twice on Purim, is named after Queen Esther. Esther manifested a character trait that embodies hiddenness, that most misunderstood of traits–modesty. Esther’s modesty was notably expressed by her special ability to know when to keep silent and when not to.
Kept for all intents and purposes as a prisoner in King Achashveirosh’s harem, Esther remained silent while she waited for the most opportune time to reveal Haman’s treachery and save the Jewish people. She concealed the fact that she was Jewish, too. Her quiet confidence and humility enabled her to hang in there for nearly nine years as the Purim story unfolded.
In order to do this, Esther had to have confidence in herself; she had to believe in herself and in
Is the World your (huge) responsibility? Read on…
Recently I read an article which bristled with distaste as it questioned the value of Torah-based personal growth books. Focusing on the self is a selfish indulgence, the article said (in much stronger words), and went on to express the need for the publication of more Universal, non-self-referential, and brilliantly-intellectual explorations of Torah Judaism.
I get the point.
It might seem selfish to focus on the self.
But the truth is that the self, the neshama-in-this-body, is an entire world according to Torah.
More than that: Each of us is responsible for this world called “Self.”
For Asarah B’teves—The Fast of Teves and Reb Nosson’s Yartzheit
Sponsored by the Schulman Family in memory of and appreciation for Reb Nosson on his yartzheit.
“…in generation after generation, there exists a shepherd who embodies the concept of “Moshe, the faithful shepherd.” This shepherd makes a mishkan. And know, the little schoolchildren receive their pure, untainted breath of their mouths from this mishkan. –Likutey Moharan 282
The true tzaddik of the generation takes all the nikudos tovos, the good points, he collects from each individual person, and with this accumulated good, builds a mishkan for Hashem. This sanctuary is the source of the breath of innocent children, who’ve never been tainted by sin. With this pure breath of goodness, young schoolchildren begin their first study of Torah.
As she learns, this child inhales and exhales goodness. She connects to the Tzaddik. This child pours her pure self into Torah learning and receives even more inspiration (both definitions apply.)
This child is each and every young child.
This child is also the psycho-spiritual concept of the inner child. Your inner child.
And though you recognize the term, don’t be fooled—psychology’s inner child is a mere doppelganger for the true inner child. First brought to Westerners’ attention by Jung, the distorted secular concept of the inner child has been employed in self-limiting, decadent, or destructive ways by new-age therapists ever since.
Your Inner Child
One way to get in touch with your spiritual inner child is to begin
Healthy and balanced self-esteem is the awareness and appreciation of your good points combined with genuine humility.
Self-knowledge is the first step to self-esteem.
The Torah reading this week, Shelach, offers a glimpse into the dangers of not understanding who you are, not knowing what your mission is, and not seeing yourself clearly.
While learning Rebbe Nachman of Breslov’s most famous lesson, Azamra (LM 1, 282), we came across the section which says when a person begins to take a good hard look at herself, she is liable to find that she has so many flaws, and such an absence of good deeds, that the forces of negativity hijack her self-condemnation and use it to push her into a bleak depression (God forbid).
And in fact, depression is a real pitfall of examining oneself with too much harshness. But, we still must examine ourselves if we want to grow.