Pirkei Ha'Machshavah - The powerful will to serve HaShem



By The Rav Yaakov Addes

Chapter 1 - Sod : The powerful will of the Jew to serve the Eternal

First part

There is in the heart of every Jew a deep desire to get closer to the Eternal. Some people realize this regularly; others only from time to time, but all Jews have within themselves, this same will.

2. In the Midrash Raba, at the end of the Parshah "Toldot", our Sages relate that when the Temple was destroyed, the non-Jews requested that the first one to enter the holy place to plunder the temple be a Jew [surely it was with the intention to further degrade the Jewish people]. After endorsing this responsibility, a man named Yosef Mechita thus entered the temple and left, taking the Menorah with him. The Goyim then asked him to go back inside to steal other treasures. But this time the man refused and said: "I have already angered my Creator once, why would I do it again?"

Non-Jews tried to bribe him by offering him a lot of money, an important position, etc. then they threatened to torture, and finally kill him. But Yosef Mechita insisted. The Goyim executed him after having subjected him to terrible suffering by cutting him with a wood saw. As he returned his soul, Yosef Mechita was screaming, but not because of the pain these demonized Goyim were causing him. This is what he shouted: Woe is me, I have enraged my Creator! A real disgrace for me that I have enraged my Creator! "

3. Now the question arises where did this man get that strength to act with such a change in attitude. A few minutes before, he was ready to enter the Temple to seize its treasures, as much as at this time, the people of Israel were experiencing the worst moment in their history, the Temple had been destroyed, people were dying or being prisoners, yes wounded or starving, how could this man have the courage to enter the holiest place of the Jewish people;

And behave like a simple thief ?: Now, here not only did he change his mind, but he even rose to the highest levels that exist, sacrificing his life to achieve sanctification of the Name of the Eternal (Kiddush HaShem).

The Impressive: He is not complaining about his horrible suffering, but about the fact that he has angered his Creator. We will answer this question when we understand that the Jew, whatever he may be, is inhabited by a holy soul whose only desire is to fulfill the will of the Eternal God with all his might. But because this soul is made up of a large number of shells, it sometimes happens that some of these shells desire something more and direct our actions, especially when they themselves are influenced by an environment that does not lead us in accordance with Avodat HaShem. (Service to God). Therefore, although this man has entered the temple grounds to commit a robbery, he suddenly turns upside down. Because his soul is fundamentally holy and his only will is to serve HaShem at any cost.

5. It is the responsibility of every Jew to do this holy part.
who directs their actions and all their conduct to always follow the ways of Avodat HaShem.

6. There are different ways of working in this direction, but for the most part, we can summarize them in two primary faculties: the first is to be aware of the extraordinary benefits that are deep within us, as well as that tremendous energy that allows us to reach the maximum level, the highest found in the Avodat HaShem. And the second is to know the importance of the consequences of our actions, our words, our motives and our thoughts, and our will to do good.

7. The Jew has to know that if he had a clear awareness of how far these two faculties have the power to go, there is no doubt that this knowledge would only give him the strength to face in any situation and to serve his Creator with all his Forces, day and night. We can even assume that failure would be absent from your world. However, although it is impossible for us to know exactly how far these two faculties could go, 

The more a man is aware of his potential and his worth, the more he is inhabited by the will and power to serve his Creator. We will speak with greater details, with the help of Hashem, of these two faculties in the chapters to come.

Second part
1. We explained in the previous part that every Jew, without exception, even the worst person of all, has a pure and holy soul deep within him whose only desire is to serve HaShem with all his might, and that the wills which animate him are better than those which are expressed in the outermost covers  (the outer parts of his soul, Ed.).

2. But the subject is deeper than it seems at first glance.
Indeed, the Jewish soul is in reality a spiritual light emanating from HaShem, as we will explain in the second chapter. This light has the particularity of being absolutely good, and it holds a holiness that is impossible to describe. But, even so a person would feel close to HaShem, even if he invested with the highest dimensions in the bond he created with him, that would remain without comparison with the real proximity which unites the soul to its Creator and with the formidable holiness of which it is the bearer.

Now, a Jew, whoever he is, has such a soul. And all his desires, at the best do not come directly from his soul, but from HaKadosh, Baruch Hu, who granted the soul two guides: the good and the evil inclination (the Yetser Ha Tov and the Yetser HaRa). Because we would have therefore wrong to believe that the Yetser ha Tov and the Yetser HaRa constitute two parts inherent in the soul itself. They are actually both of them from outside of him, while the soul is much holier than the
Yetzer haRa, and even the Yetzer ha Tov.

3. And if the Yetser haRa has the possibility of perverting the soul it is, as Rav Chaim Vital explains in the name of the Ari zal, because each Jew has a Treasure hidden in the upper worlds for him, there is a spiritual treasure hidden (stored up) for him upthere where all his future successes, those pertaining to this world, as well as those pertaining to the world to come. However, the forces of evil are seeking to Seize this treasure. And the way they try to achieve this is trying to put the man in check (Trying to have him under their control) .

Either by making him make mistakes, or by preventing him from keeping the Mitzvot. Because in this way, the Yetser haRa obtains the possibility of seizing this treasure, causing great damages to the soul, diverting the benefits that was intended to benefit the soul in this world and in the world to come.

4. The Ari zal shows that it is for this reason that the letters of the word Shefah (that means abundance) and those of the word Peshah (Meaning guilt) are similar [Shin-Pé-Hé] for Shefah and [Pé-Shin-Hé] for Peshah, Ndt.]. The only difference being that its order is reversed, and this is, because the Yetser haRa has the sole objective of blaming the man to be able to change the original direction of abundance that, instead of spilling it over the man, it is directed towards the forces of evil.

5. Certainly, if the Yetser haRa presents itself to us and confesses what it wants to do to us to take advantage of the benefits that are reserved for us, it is true that no one would let it win. That is why the Yetzer haRa must lie and make us believe that he wants our good. But in truth, his only objective is to surrender master of the blessing that awaits man, causing him terrible prejudice in this world and in the world to come.

6. Therefore, even when a man follows his Yetzer haRa, his soul remains holy and pure while he is a prisoner of the forces of evil, thus serving his enemy. And it is enough for him to realize it to find, within himself, the means to confront him in an instant and to reintegrate the path of good. This is what happened to Yosef Mejita.

It is that the soul possesses an extraordinary sanctity, even if one finds himself completely in the hands of absolute evil, he always keeps the possibility of turning back and very quickly reaching the highest levels of reconciliation with HaShem; He is still able to concentrate all the strength at his disposal to study Torah and achieve his Avodat Hashem. This is true of all Jews, even the worst.

7. We could express this idea using the following metaphor: imagine that a war has broken out between two countries, Country A and Country B. "A" is about to win the war because it has at its disposal an engineer who has invented ultra-sophisticated missiles that improve themselves, week after week, "B" doesn't know how to react. One night, however, while the engineer is sleeping in the military quarter where the missiles are focused, "B" enters by surprise and kidnaps him.

Back home. "B" installs the kidnapped engineer in a building resembling in every way possible the place where the engineer was working, and "B" makes him believe that he's still on the other side of the border. And so the engineer does not
suspects anything and continues to build missiles. Only that now instead of assassinating those he believes to be his enemies, he makes war against his compatriots, against his own brothers! However, it would only be enough for this engineer to become aware of what is being hidden from him to immediately stop building these missiles and do everything in his power to return home to help his fellow citizens. It is exactly the same for humans: when a person acts badly, he is, so to speak, a prisoner of his Yetzer haRa from which he must free himself as soon as possible in order to act again in the right direction.

8. Certainly, we have explained that the soul remains pure and that the reprehensible wills are always the work of the Yetzer haRa who, in himself, does not belong to the soul since, on the contrary, he detests it. However, when the Yetzer haRa manages to seize the soul, that is to say to make man at fault, either by making him commit misdeeds or by preventing him from performing Mitzvot, the soul then undergoes terrible prejudices that it is impossible to describe, so dreadful they are; but, despite this, the soul remains pure.

9. We have explained that neither the Yetser baRa nor even the Yetser ha Tov pertain properly to the soul since they are external to it. In itself, the soul is indeed devoid of all evil; it is even much holier than the Yetzer ha Tov. However, our Sages teach that the Yetzer haRa is present in humans from an early age, while the Yetzer ha Tov does only appear at the age of thirteen, the age when man enters the world of the Mitzvot. And what? Before the age of thirteen, would a child be the embodiment of evil? Doesn't experience show us, on the contrary, that the younger they are, the more children are of flawless purity? Especially since in his commentary on the Zohar, the Gaon de Vilna writes that during the first thirteen years of his life, man has qualities which are linked to Sefirot which are higher than those to which they are attached when he is older.

We will answer this question by remembering that the holiest part in man is his soul. So even though in his younger age, the child does not yet have a Yetser ha Tov, but only a Yetzer haRa, he is in possession of a very powerful pure soul, while his Yetser haRa is weak. So much so that at this age the soul can easily defeat him, even without the help of the Yetser ha Tov. But when it grows and the Yetzer haRa strengthens for a number of reasons, the soul alone no longer has the necessary strength to support the fight against the Yetzer haRa, which is why they send him a help from Heaven: the Yetzer haTov.

We will not explain in detail here the nature of the soul, the meaning of these two guides who are the Yetzer ha Tov and the Yetzer haRa, the influence they have on the soul, nor the sense of the damage it can undergo when, Chas ve Shalom, she is submitted to the Yetzer haRa.

11. This would indeed be too tedious, and that is not the purpose of this work. We will therefore content ourselves with indicating the texts where these questions are answered: "Etz Chaim", Shaar 26, chapter 1, pages 14 and 15 "Nahar Shalom" of Rashash, in the introduction that the Rav gave the commentary on the blessing “Malbish Arumim”, page 22 / d and page 23 / a; in the comments of the Gaon of Vilna on the Zohar, Parshah “Pekudé”, in the “Hechalot”, on page 247 / a [cf. also what we wrote about it; and in the comments of the Gaon of Vilna on “Safa disiniuta”, page 26 / b and c and page 29 / b and c.


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