AyinBase with R' Paltiel Thursday 19 Kislev 5772
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We have started looking at the verse upon which this discourse is based. G-d tells Abraham, “Go unto you!” this means, 'Rise up to the essence of the soul!' This doesn't mean to lose contact with the way the soul is in the body. But rather that into this lower level in the body, should come the recognition of the essence of the soul.
The G-dly soul enlists the 'animal soul' to act in the world. So thus, 'Go unto you!' means not ignoring one's existence in the world. When man was created, and was placed in the Garden of Eden, it was to service it and guard it. The principle of man is to represent essence in the world, not to be detached.
How is this done? By means of accessing essence, while staying in contact with the world. And this is the principle of tephilah/prayer/davening.
It is 19 Kislev and so we will give it special attention. We think of prayer as petitioning G-d. So how does this fit with what we say, that 'prayer is a stairway to heaven – a ladder based on the earth reaching all the way to the heavens' ? But even in this meaning of prayer, there is to be seen an enormous refinement of the animal soul.
For the animal soul to recognize and admit that its physical needs are to be requested from Hashem/G-d. Some reform/Conservative 'temples'/shuls focus on emotional arousal – a personal experience divorced from the truth of all coming from Him. So too for us we may ask for help regarding some pain, and not give a thought to Who we are addressing.
Our prayer is prefaced by, 'G-d open my lips and my mouth will give Your praises'. He gives us the right to relate to Him and express our needs. 'I am over my personal experiences and now it is me and You'.
So this level is already a pretty challenging level for the animal soul.
But really prayer is connection. Rochel had a son called Naftali. The name denotes connection/wrestling. tefilah/tephilah is 'I connect with all my being'. Connecting to Him so one is experience of Him alone, still in the world, but fully aware of Him.
How does one reach this level? Our sages have developed a couple of stages in getting to this... stages in our prayer book...
Why a ladder? This is a spiritual level. Why does a ladder stand? It is based on the ground and the upper level rests on a wall above. Without the upper support it will fall, no matter its strength.
The support above is the sense of the soul. As you take the first step you feel the elevation and know it is supported above. This is open to everyone, but a pure approach is needed. With a clear mind one sees, 'there is a truth here that I don't begin to comprehend'.
This is the pure human intellect. There is a true presence here beyond my understanding and I relate to it as such.
For the animal soul to accept this is a huge effort and a great breakthrough. Usually the animal soul just thinks, 'what enhances me?' and then it goes beyond this...!
Science tend to be reductionist till the ladder lies flat on the ground!
This is entirely for 19 Kislev, since this is the path the Alte Rebbe set out for us...
the challenging thing for the intellect of the animal soul is that 'I can grasp the beginning, middle and end of something'. If I have a sense of truth and don't know what it is based on, then from an animal soul perspective it is frustrating. This is the process – we guide the animal soul, you will sense that which you cannot grasp...!
The animal soul starts to realize that all the things that it is enjoying, belong to Someone and he has to give thanks!
This engraving and teaching of the animal soul by means of the introductory prayers, break his attachment to the world. Before prayer the animal soul sees the world as, 'something for my taking' as a result of prayer he is shaken out of this and he says, 'I see what is presented to me'. This is lifting him off the ground that is based on the ground and reaches up...