How to stay close to Hashem
When we say: “I keep Hashem before me, always,” practically speaking this means that it makes no difference to us if this thing happens, or that thing happens. Whatever the circumstances we find ourselves in, we feel connected and joined to Hashem – both in the up, and also in the down.
When this happens, Rabbenu tells us that it’s referred to as a person being at peace with himself. When a person works on rectifying his negative character traits, then wherever he actually ends up, he feels good, because every situation he finds himself in he feels he’s with Hashem.
Loving our fellow Jew ‘for free’
Rebbe Nachman begins lesson 14 in Likutey Moharan by telling us that first, we need to have peace with Am Yisrael, with our fellow Jew. This is referring to ahavat chinam, or baseless love. So how can we strengthen ourselves, to love our fellow Jew ‘for free’? He tells us:
“Don’t judge your fellow until you’ve been in his shoes.”
And if, despite this, you still decide to judge him, then:
“Judge every person favorably.”
In shemayim, there’s an heavenly attribute that’s called ‘gevurot’, (strength / might / judgment). At its root, it’s a very holy attribute, it’s referring to the power contained in the Nefesh, the animal soul.
Who is a real ‘hero’?
Who is a gibor, a strong, mighty man? One who can subjugate his own evil inclination.
The holy Zohar says that the redemption will come by way of the gevurot waking up in the world. When these gevurot, these judgments, this strength awakens, we feel it in our heart and in our soul. We need to be on alert the whole time that this strength shouldn’t be used to judge other people harshly, or to fuel our anger.
Of course, we all make harsh judgment calls sometimes, because all these harsh judgments are being sent down from shemayim. But even so, we need to be fighting against this tendency all the time, and to have the intention of transforming the harsh judgment into compassion.
Instead of judging someone harshly, we need to have mercy on them.
Translated and abridged from Ohr HaDaat, #113