12 Tishrei 5779 / Friday, September 21, 2018 | Torah Reading: Ha'azinu
 
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Think Like Hashem    

Think Like Hashem



By taking small incremental steps to do what our soul knows is right, we help not only ourselves but the whole Jewish nation, for we are one with each other and with Hashem…

 



Potentializing our spirituality involves emulating the ways of Hashem. The first step in the process is to think like Hashem. But how can we do that? We start by doing the things He asks of us even if we do not feel like it. We perform the actions that connect body and soul whether or not we understand them or embrace them. As we perform these actions we become spiritually strengthened, and we transform ourselves for the good. G-d leads us when we connect to Him in this manner, and we begin to think like Hashem.

 

Hashem is above nature. His thoughts are above nature. Can we expect to also rise above nature? The answer is absolutely “yes”. Hashem loves when we seek peace and pursue it. This is the path that the Creator wants us to take to spiritually elevate ourselves.  The goal, then, is to shift from living from the needs of the body and emotions to living to serve the needs of the soul. We don't ignore physicality - we elevate it.

 

We embrace our physical existence by guiding it to satisfy the spiritual yearnings of our soul. To give some concrete examples, we’ll begin with the concept of self-restraint, self-control, self-discipline. When we exercise this trait, we tame the ego---the inclination to satisfy the body and do what the body wants rather than what the soul craves. As we tame the body, we strengthen the soul.

 

We listen to our soul in areas that are difficult for us like resisting tempting foods that are loaded with sugar and carbohydrates, not driving to a rock concert or party on Shabbat, guarding our eyes from lewd images, refusing to respond to an insult, reading uplifting stories of people who overcame great obstacles, and taking walks to talk to Hashem when we have a problem to solve rather than turning to mind-numbing substances like drugs or alcohol. We strive to make the elevated choice.  A healthy soul leads to a healthy body. We go against our natural inclination - our animal soul (nefesh habeheimis) and tap into our G-dly soul (nefesh elokis). When we choose to think like Hashem, we bring the Creator much nachas (pride and joy).

 

By taking small incremental steps to do what our soul knows is right, we help not only ourselves but the whole Jewish nation, for we are one with each other and with Hashem.  Another lofty yet doable goal and a favorite of the Creator:  to love our neighbor (our fellow Jewish brother and sister) as ourselves. This may sound daunting, but it’s really not if we tackle it with the proper attitude. We approach this task by thinking like Hashem. It is true that the Jewish People are a diverse group. We share the same soul, but we present very differently. Most of the time, human beings are drawn to those who are similar in appearance, opinions, and personality.

 

We tend to form cliques with others who think as we do, and we avoid those who are different than we are. Hashem created us to be disparate for a good reason: to learn to be tolerant and to choose to be kind over being right all the time. When we push ourselves to get to know and even understand those with a personality or trait to which we may not normally be attracted, we grow in magnanimity.

 

How many of us go out of our way to be nice to people to whom we do not feel an affinity or attraction? It takes effort to stretch our spiritual muscles. Hashem wants us to love unconditionally for three reasons:  (1) to tame our ego; (2) to win favor in His eyes; and (3) to spiritually strengthen the collective soul of the Jewish People. This involves strengthening one very special trait:  HUMILITY!

 

What each of us does affects all of us just like the condition of any part of our individual bodies affects how we feel as a whole person. If our tooth hurts, our stomach may also feel upset, and we don’t feel much like eating. A problem in one part of our body affects the rest, and so it is with the Jewish nation, for we were created as one. G-d purposely puts diverse Jewish people together in close contact in a family, at work, in the synagogue, or at various events in order to test if we are able to rise above our differences and get along. When we do, we not only learn from the experience, but we elevate the entire Jewish nation.





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