14 Tamuz 5779 / Wednesday, July 17, 2019 | Torah Reading: Pinchas
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Who Are You?    

Who Are You?

Some people are so fascinated by themselves that they spend decades in therapy; they even delve into past-life therapy, which either traumatizes them or just confuses them...


There are people who are very thoughtful and introspective and they want to know all about themselves. They want to know how they “tic” psychologically and why they act and react the way they do. This type of person is really looking for growth. They aren’t superficial people. They want self-awareness. The problem is that they have been misled by a culture that gets them too focused on themselves and not on Hashem.


There is a double danger to this type of self-analysis. As I said, when you are constantly focused on “me” it’s hard to find Hashem. This could lead to excessive self-absorption, arrogance and sadness. But an even deeper and more subtle problem is that the more the person studies himself, the more he believes that he exists independently of Hashem. He forgets (or never learns) that “there is nothing but Hashem.”


I had spent most of my life searching for myself. Objectively speaking, I probably have learned more about myself than most people have, but that knowledge, alone, doesn’t do me much good. In fact, I try not to think too much about what I know about myself anymore. I’ll tell you why…


The soul is a part of Hashem and so it’s infinite. There is no end to the soul. I could have spent my whole life chasing after more and more knowledge about myself and only ended up with a drop of knowledge about “who” I really am, because just like you and everybody else, I’m infinite!


Some people are so fascinated by themselves that they spend decades in therapy; they even delve into doing therapy on their past lives - which either further traumatizes them, or just confuses them, or, at best just wastes their time (as if we don’t have enough to deal with in this lifetime!)


The deeper question that we all need to ask is: who am “I” really? The “I” that is filled with what other people think and what the world thinks is not the my real “I”. The “I” that is constantly being bounced around by my senses, and just reacting to everything that I see and hear and feel around me in this world is also not my real “I”. Certainly the “I” that I was deeply probing and analyzing in psychotherapy was also not my real “I”. It was a false “I” and I’ll tell you why…


My real “I” is my soul which is a cheilek eloka mimaal, a “piece of Hashem”. Why is the soul called “a piece of Hashem”?


Think about this: If Hashem is everywhere, how are you able to be sitting or standing where you are right now? Hashem causes each person to have this question at some point: How can it be that I and Hashem can be at once in the same place? The point of this questioning is so that a person will realize the truth: Since Hashem is here where I stand; it must be that “I” am not really here!


Such a conclusion is a fact that cannot be comprehended. But it is supposed to make a person think about the need to stop thinking too much about his “I”.


It is written (Devorim 32: 39), “For I am who I am, and there is no G-d with me”. The true “I” is Hashem. The sage Hillel once said, “If I am here, everyone is here”, and this is explained to mean that he was referring to Hashem, who is called “I”.


The soul is called a piece of Hashem, and this means that just as Hashem is called “I”, so can a person feel his “I” as part of Hashem.  Since our soul is a piece of Hashem, and Hashem is considered the only true “I”, our soul is able to feel this “I” as well. Our mission is to reveal and recognize who the true “I” is and stay away from outside influences that take us away from who we really are.


When we are in touch with our real selves we are simultaneously connected with Hashem. Our relationship with Hashem, our Creator, is the only relationship that can fully satisfy all of our needs. Our most loving and cherished relationships in this world – the love of parents – the love between spouses – are given to us by Hashem to prepare us to give up ownership of a private place in our hearts so that He will dwell within us forever.



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We invite you to visit Dr. Zev Ballen's popular daily web journal Spiritual Coaching.

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