Friday, August 21, 2009

Seeing in the Dark

"לדוד ד' אורי וישעי ממי אירא ד' מעוז חיי ממי אפחד"

תהילים כז:א

"A song of David, Hashem is my light and my salvation, whom shall I dread; Hashem is the strength of my life, whom shall I fear."

The Malbim points out that referring to Hashem as a light is best understood as a protection against the unknown. When we are faced with a hidden adversary or challenge – light is the best assistance, enabling us to see that which we need to overcome.

In this phrase, however, is a subtle nuance which gives us a valuable insight. Light doesn't only enable one to see – it also tints the visible field and may obscure some hues while bringing out others in sharp contrast. In short, light doesn’t only show us what there is to see, but also how we see it.

Metaphorically too, ideas or events can be understood totally differently depending on the context, or the light.

By calling Hashem his light, Dovid Hamelech is telling us that any other light will give a false gleam and may produce shadows or angles that aren’t there. Only seeing things by the light of Hashem is sure to result in seeing the world as it really is.

In this month of reconciliation between us and our Father in heaven, let us redouble our efforts to see only the emes in this world of sheker and intense, heartfelt service of the divine is sure to follow.

Hatzlacha !!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

(Service of) G-d Is In The Details

"... והיה עקב תשמעון"
[דברים ז:יב]
"And it will be in exchange for your observance ..."
[Devarim 7:12]

Rashi quotes the well known Medrash that Hashem is not asking for regular observances - rather that we be so meticulous so as to perform even the mitzvos that are normally ignored (or trampled underfoot -as hinted by the double meaning of the word "עקב" which also means heel).

Is Hashem telling us that divine blessing will only be ours if we have a perfect mitzvah score ? What about small or inadvertent mistakes ?

There are two kinds of things that normally get stepped on - items that you didn't notice, and wouldn't have stepped on if you had, and stuff that you saw, but considered it trivial to step on it anyway.

The first type of item is usually stepped on with the toes or the pad of the foot - it takes a concerted effort to step on something with your heel - that is commonly saved for the second category of underfoot garbage - you know it's there - you just don't care because it is nothing significant.

Perhaps the medrash is alluding to this difference as well. If we overlook a mitzvah by accident (thereby stepping on it) we have not necessarily done something awful. True, we overlooked something - but it was unintetional. That would not invalidate my eligibility for the divine bounty. It is only when I mash something down with my heel - when I know that this is a Mitzvah, and for my own reasons (affected by my desires, no doubt) do I choose not to observe it - then I am disqualifying myself from receiving Hashem's blessing.

May we all be zocheh to see all the mitzvah opportunities that abundantly surround us - and further zocheh to observe them and bring the highest divine blessing - the geulah sheleimah, amen.

Hatzlacha !!