By: Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson once said, “The first step to serving G-d is, not to do what one feels like doing.” The Talmud says, scholars would push themselves to eat later than everyone else.
Our minds are tremendously powerful. They not only influence the energy of our thoughts as they project in the world, they actually influence and determine our physical realities.
Inside every physical object is a pure and refined spark of G-d. A spark of holiness and blessing. For a person to connect with this spark he must wage war against himself so that he should not want the physical but should seek to benefit from the food and the object, only to serve G-d.
If a person eats only to pursue his physical pleasure and enjoyment then that’s the part of him that becomes stronger and more pronounced. The physical takes over and drowns out the possibility of the spiritual to have any influence in his life.
The source of everything is G-d. The entire universe is filled with His Glory. A pure and perfect spark of G-d evolves and changes until it becomes outwardly a coarse materialistic object. To the eye and on the surface the food looks and tastes the way it does. Sometimes this can be a blessing and sometimes it’s quite the opposite of what’s needed for the person. The core however, the spark contains the infinite qualities of G-d and is always good.
The Talmud says a story that once in a very poor home the daughter told her father before the Sabbath that there was no oil, only vinegar with which to light the Friday evening candles. She wanted very much to light, since it is the most auspicious time for a woman to pray to G-d.
The father who was extremely G-d fearing responded to his daughter. “The One who told oil to light can order vinegar to light. “Take the vinegar and light the candles with it.” She did so and it lit.
The vinegar lit because deep down in the vinegar is the same exact core spark as in the oil. This great Rabbi and his daughter with their pious belief in G-d were able to penetrate the outer limitations of liquid and connect with the unlimited spark of G-d inside.
The first commandment to Abraham who enters this fantastic covenant with G-d at the age of 75 was, “Go from your land, your birthplace, and your father’s house to the land which I will show you.”
The commentators ask:” Everything in the Torah is an end unto itself, how does this commandment accomplish anything in itself, and why is this first commandment Abraham is charged with?”
Abraham kept on maturing and growing in his faith as he grew older. At 3 years old at 40, 48, and 50, Abraham recognized G-d on deeper and profound levels. At the age of 75 Abraham reached a certain perfection and excellence of self-refinement and inner connection with G-d which was unparalleled. In this new stage G-d saw greater and better possibilities that lay before Abraham and gave him the route to reach there.
In Hebrew “your land” can be understood as, your natural desires. Your “place of birth” can be understood as, all the feelings and emotions you have developed as a result of being influenced by your environment. Your “father’s house” can be understood as, all the intellectual conclusions you have come to over the years.
As great as a person has become it is still only him, a finite natural human being. The Torah commands every person. In order to reach the land; ALL the land that “I” G-d intend “to give you and all your children”, a person must divest himself of the inclinations built in to the corporeal and physical and surrender to the will of G-d.
Outgrowing the confines of bodily stimuli becomes a life dominated by the spiritual. “He” becomes smaller which allows more of G-d to attach itself to the person. This inevitably showers him with infinite unlimited blessings in the physical.
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