The secret of the soul

As we wrote about HERE, every person has three different levels of soul, called the nefesh, ruach and neshama – soul. And at each of these levels, we have to stand up in the test of clarifying what is really ‘good’ and what is really ‘bad’.

In this post, we’re going to go a little deeper into this subject, and take a look at what Rebbe Nachman says, in his story entitled ‘The Cripple’, i.e. a person whose legs don’t work properly.

Spiritually, the ‘legs’ are a hint to the nefesh soul-level of a person, aka the world of feelings.

The essence of a person’s test in this world takes place within the world of feelings.

The main place where the yetzer hara (evil inclination) catches hold of us today is via our feelings, and we’re going to explain why that is.

When a person’s intellect is damaged in some way, this skews his outlook so he no longer sees things correctly. But a person can study, and he can clarify things, and understand that he’s made an error, and sometimes even within a very short period of time, he can completely change his outlook.

However, changing our feelings is far more difficult, and takes a great deal of time. The negative feelings we have in heart are essentially our not good middot (character traits), and unhealthy lusts and desires.

And a man’s heart is built in such a way that it wants to stay entrenched in the place where it already is.

There is a whole world of feelings that stem from the world of kedusha, holy feelings, and then there is another whole world of feelings that come from the world of tumah –  spiritual impurity.

And our job is to somehow get the heart out of the ‘bad’, and to connect it instead to the world of ‘good’.

Generally, we can do this by making the heart subservient to the intellect, and to the true daat (spiritual knowledge) contained in the Torah, which we can access by learning Torah and praying.

A slave to lust

The world of lusts is located directly underneath the world of feelings. But again, there are also lusts that come from the holy side. There are people who have merited to have a real ‘lust’ to study Torah, and who also have a thirst to get closer to Hashem. This is the total rectification of a person, to transfer all that energy powering his lusts to the side of holiness.

Our generation is that of the ‘heels of the Moshiach’. That means that we have been lowered into the very hard work of clarifying the world of lusts.

The main goal of this descent is in order to rectify the world of lusts, and to elevate all our lusts up to the side of holiness. That means transforming our desire for the material world into a longing to get closer to God.

We need to know that the ‘energy’ powering these lusts is extremely powerful and strong, and was created only in order to be used by us to serve Hashem. Just now, it’s fallen into the ‘bad’ side.

The job of rectifying our desires is the hardest spiritual work there is. When a person is sunk into these lusts, it’s extremely difficult to get out of that place.

He needs a lot of prayers, a lot of hitbodedut (talking to God in your own words), he needs a lot of crying out to Hashem, before God will get him out of there.

The biggest problem of all stems from the fact that at a certain stage, a person actually loses his strength to fight against his lust. In everyday language, this is when a person becomes ‘addicted’.

In these situations, the lust is ruling the person, and he can no longer overcome it just with his own strength.

In Hebrew, the word for addiction, ‘machor’, is related to the word for sold, ‘machira’, because a person has sold himself out to his lusts. So, what can we do in this type of situation, and how can a person still escape from the ‘bad’?

Hashem’s light in the darkness  

When a person finds himself in this situation, his hope lies in the fact that ‘from Heaven, they will help him.’ And what sort of help will they send him?

They will send a spark of the ohr haganuz, the hidden light, into that person’s heart. And then, even in a single second, a person can leave everything else behind, and just run after Hashem.

The ohr haganuz is an incredibly lofty spiritual light, as we’ll start to learn. Rabbi Nachman asked a question in Likutey Moharan, 2:12: On the one hand, it’s written that Hashem is renewing His creations every single second.

But on the other hand, it’s also written: “He won’t give His honor to acher (the other)”, which is understood to mean that there are places of avoda zara (idol worship), and heresy and lust that are referred to as acher, the other. And Hashem says that His light, the light of the shechina, which is called ‘His honor’, doesn’t shine in these places.

So Rebbe Nachman asks, if this is the case, what giving life to these places?

And then he goes on to tell us a huge spiritual secret.

There is a spiritual illumination which is called HaKeter HaElyon, or the Upper Crown, aka, the ohr haganuz. And this light is what enlivens and renews these places. But the character of this light is such that a person can’t see Hashem by it, because the light is ‘hidden’ and covered over.

So, when a Jew falls into these places, God forbid, places where the light of Hashem can’t shine on him, to illuminate his path and arouse him to make teshuva, that is where the hidden light – ohr haganuz shines.

When a Jew is in this dark place, there is so much murk there it literally clogs his heart and his mind, and makes it impossible for any murmur of teshuva to enter his heart, or for any holy thought to enter his brain.

The reality of that person is that there is really no-one to talk to, and that he appears to be lost, without any hope of being able to return.

The point of the descent is just to enable the ascent

In these cases, our hope really lies only with the true tzaddikim.

There are huge tzaddikim who know that Jewish souls have become trapped in these places, and that there is no ‘natural’ way to get them out.

So, they then take upon themselves enormous suffering, even though according to their actual deeds, they should only be receiving enormous spiritual and material reward and abundance.

But instead, the ‘reward’ they ask for, by taking these tribulations upon themselves, is that Hashem should send a spark of the ohr haganuz to these souls which are stuck in that place of darkness, and this light is what leads them out of there.

To be continued…

This post is in the merit of R’ Eliezer ben Etya, Yitzchak Achya ben Anet, Yitzchak ben Saida & Galit Geula bat Ronit. And all of Am Yisrael.


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