Instant At-one-ment

A teaching on serving and returning to G!d from Menahem Nahum of Chernobyl, Meor Einayim, Likutim.

It is written, “Know G!d in all your ways,” that is, everything you do must be for the sake of Heaven (1). This includes even worldly matters, for “G!d made everything for His own sake,” and “everything that G!d made, He made it for His glory” (2). Now a human king and his glory are two separate things, but the Holy One of Blessing and His glory are one (the enlightened one will understand). So in every created thing there is the glory of G!d, for “G!d’s glory fills the earth,” and there is no place empty of G!d (3). Everything that a person does, down to eating, drinking, and doing business, is all the glory of G!d, for “with the Torah the Holy One of Blessing created the world,” and there is Torah in everything (4).

This can be compared to a king who disguises himself and goes about among his subjects, to hear and see what they say, without being recognized himself. And those who know about this practice are always in fear, lest the king should be in their company and they speak improperly. Likewise (with a thousand thousand distinctions) does G!d disguise Himself in the world, to hear and see what they say, as it is written, “I will hide My face” (5). So we must know that G!d is before us always, as it is written, “I place G!d before me always” (6). Even when we go about our own business, the King of Kings of Kings, the Holy One of Blessing, is hidden there…

This is the meaning of the verse, “If a man hides in hidden places, do I not see him?, says the L!rd” (7). Even if a person is hidden in earthly matters, which are called “hidden places,” because it seems as if in them he is hidden from the Creator, G!d can see him, for G!d is hidden there as well. However, since G!d is hidden there, that also means that we can reach Him there! So in the end all of our business is the business of the Creator and of His Torah, for it is through the Torah that the world is created and Torah is found in everything.

This is why King David said, “How I love Your Torah.”  There is an extra word in the Hebrew: mah (8). Why is it included? So that we can read the verse, “Whatever I love, it is Your Torah,” for everything that he desired and loved, it was not the thing itself, but the spiritual essence of it, which is Torah. Thus the verse continues, “I speak of it all day long,” for no matter what David spoke of, his focus was the Torah within it from which it springs. This is also the meaning of the Talmudic statement that even the worldly speech of sages merits study (9), for all of a sage’s speech is actually dealing with the Torah within. When a person acts like this then he cleaves to G!d in all his ways.

But first, truly, he must leave off his ruinous ways and repent for them. [Such thoughts alone are meaningful,] for as our sages said, “Someone who marries on condition that that person is totally righteous, even if it turns out that the person is wicked, the marriage holds, because perhaps he had a thought of atonement,” which shows us that in that moment of atonement he became a truly righteous person (10). The reason is that atonement preceded the creation of the world, as is known, and the world was created by ten utterances (11); since the creation of the worlds and all that is in them was through speech, whatever preceded them preceded speech, and that is thought. Thus atonement rests on thought which is above the letters, and returns to the root that is above the worlds, and repairs the world which the wicked destroy (12)…

The world exists in time, but before the world was created there was no such thing as time at all. So there is no element of time to the mending power of atonement, only the Now, and in the blink of an eye atonement can repair everything. If atonement seems to require time to perform, then it is not complete atonement. You must believe that in this moment you can fix everything. This is the meaning of the sages, “If not now, when?” (13). For if you should think that you need a long time to make atonement, rather than being able to make it now, then you will never be able to do it no matter how long you take, for you lack the faith that atonement is above time and can fix everything in a moment…Truly, the world was created for the sake of atonement.

1) Proverbs 3:6, Avot d’Rebbe Natan 7:7       2) Proverbs 16:4, Yoma 38a       3) Isaiah 6:3    4) Zohar I:5a       5)Deuteronomy 32:20        6) Psalms 16:8       7) Jeremiah 23:24          8) Psalms 119:97; mah can mean “how” or “what,” and also represents koach hapoel benifal, “the power of the Creator in creation,” the divine potential within the world waiting to be made manifest, which the Meor Einayim here equates with Torah.    9) Sukkah 21b     10)  Kiddushin 49b           11) Pesachim 54a,  Avot 5:1     12) In the system of cosmology known as the Four Worlds, G!d’s creative power flowed through the worlds of, respectively, Emanation, Creation (associated with thought), Formation (associated with speech), and Action (associated with deed); thus thought precedes speech and action not only neurologically but cosmologically. When the Meor Einayim refers to the letters, he means the mystical concept that G!d used the letters of the alef-bet as tools to create the world, parallel to the speech of the ten utterances.    13) Avot 1:14      14) I Chronicles 28:9, from David’s final words to his son Solomon

Jeff says…

G’mar tov to everyone.

This entry was posted in Days of Awe, Hasidic Masters, Holidays/Days of Remembrance, Menahem Nahum of Chernobyl/Meor Einayim, Talmud. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Instant At-one-ment

  1. Pingback: U’teshuvah, u’tefillah, u’tzedakah… | Hasidism for the Rest of Us

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