On Divine Inspiration – Chapter 1

[An introductory open letter to all the Chassidim, published in the year 5574]

 

To my dear brethren and friends, beloved comrades and attentive colleagues whose minds and hearts have been touched by the words of the Living G_d[1]. To those whose spirits are occasionally moved to revert from the confusion and tempest of the times – this being the preoccupation with earning a livelihood. Such worries have become vastly multiplied in our times, so that the spirit of preoccupation in intensive labor looms large in people’s minds and hearts.

The situation has become so aggravated, to the point that the verse, “Therefore, hear this now, O afflicted one, who is intoxicated, but not by wine”[2], has literally come to pass, or the verse, “All their wisdom has become swallowed up.”[3], or “Their souls abhor all manner of nourishment”[4] – Oh how the “sacred stones have been scattered outside on every street corner.”[5]

Even worse, habit has become second nature for their souls, so that they do not at all groan from the labor, but rather consider it to be pure. This being the case, every G_d fearing and sensitive person, whose innards, to whatever degree, have been touched by the fear of G_d from his youth and who desires closeness to G_d within his soul, rather than to be cast aside, heaven forbid, should occasionally take it to heart to lay down counsel within his soul. That is, he should set times to contemplate how to arouse his soul, to prepare his heart and mind to receive the words of the Living G_d.

However, upon thorough examination, in general and in particular, each person should recognize that many have fallen ten steps backward in regard to arousal in Chassidic matters, compared to how it was in former times. This is so much so that there is cause for a person to fear that since he is prone to falling, he may very well fall. He could, thereby, despair of his soul altogether.

Truth should guide his path. Every person is capable of truly recognizing in his soul that even though he has become distant from matters of Chassidus for quite some time due to preoccupation with livelihood or the like, nonetheless, no negative change has actually come about in his essential self. Rather, only his mind and heart have suffered loss and diminishment of the illumination of Divine light. This is because his mind and heart have been entirely preoccupied with other matters etc.

By way of example, this may actually be compared to sleep. During sleep it cannot be said that one’s life force completely withdrew from his mind and heart. He certainly is alive, because when we rouse him he immediately awakens and is just as alive as he was before sleeping, literally. Only that during sleep the life force was concealed in his mind and heart, i.e. the Neshamah and Ruach levels of the soul were hidden. When he is roused, the soul which was hidden during sleep becomes revealed once again. This indicates that actually no new phenomenon has taken place.

Likewise, preoccupation with matters of livelihood, which is called, “The exile of the Shechinah” is also called “Sleep”, as scripture states, “When HaShem will return the captivity of Zion we will be like dreamers”[6]. Similarly, this has been explained at length on the verse, “I am asleep – in exile – but my heart is awake etc.”[7]

If HaShem will grant me the time, I shall send you a special pamphlet dealing with fundamental Chassidic teachings which everyone, whether great or small, should know regarding the manner of how to conduct oneself in matters of livelihood. I feel compelled to do this because doing one’s work in a way which is alien to Torah has come to be regarded as permissible etc. Unfortunately, no one takes to heart what it is that causes both physical and spiritual ruin in the world. Is it not because they have left the Torah of HaShem, which is imbedded in each person according to his capacity?

Rather, in all their ways each person goes in his own direction, without taking the Torah and service of G_d, which is imbedded in their souls, into account. Instead, they have departmentalized everything – setting the time for Torah and for heeding matters of Chassidus on one side and setting the time for physical bodily work on the other side. In their mind the one is not connected to the other; just the opposite, they regard them as two diametric opposites etc.

This evil has thus caused lacking even during the time of prayer and Torah study, for through this the enemy[8] is strengthened to enlarge his foothold and encroach outside of his domain and to dull the heart and mind even at a time that should normally be propitious for spiritual arousal, so that a person’s soul is not illuminated by the radiance of the words of the Living G_d that he hears[9] or that he contemplates during prayer[10] or the like. Rather, his prayers are merely uttered with the lips, but his mind and heart are distant, being filled with other thoughts and swallowed by them, as scripture states, “Israel is swallowed up etc.”[11]

Albeit, no one should ever despair of his soul, because the essential nature of his Divine soul to always be capable of becoming excited about G_d, has not at all changed in essence, – each person according to his capacity. Even a person who is prone to falling does not ever have to fall, for Israel is not widowed from the Living G_d. I know this faithfully according to what I have received from my beloved father, master, teacher and rabbi of blessed memory, whose soul reposes in Eden.

He spoke endearingly to me almost daily for several years concerning the essential natural reaction to the words of the Living G_d amongst all the members of our Chassidic brotherhood. This was transmitted in all its detailed forms, including all the guidance needed for each individual, so that he not err and delude himself, but rather, so that he will be wise in all his ways, neither veering to the right nor to the left etc.



[1] The teachings of Chassidus are traditionally called, “The words of the Living G_d.

[2] Isaiah 51:21

[3] Psalms 107:27

[4] Psalms 107:18

[5] Lamentations 4:1

[6] Psalms 126:1

[7] Song of songs 5:2

[8] The enemy is a reference to the Yetzer HaRa- The inclination toward evil.

[9] The Mittler Rebbe refers to the learning of Chassidus as “hearing” or “listening” throughout this work, because the teachings of Chassidus are primarily transmitted orally by the Rebbe to his followers at Chassidic gatherings or the like. Also, whereas insight (Chochmah) is called “seeing”, contemplation and analysis (Binah) is called “hearing”.

[10] According to Chassidus, the primary time for the contemplation of G_dliness is during prayer.

[11] Hosea 8:8

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