On Divine Inspiration – Chapter 2

And now the time has come that, of necessity, I feel duty bound to properly explain matters upon which the foundations of Chassidus depend; matters that most, if not all people, whether they are great or small, delude themselves about, thus following twisted paths in which the light of the Living G_d does not dwell under any circumstances.

The cause and reason for this error and confusion comes about because of two things:

The first is because one is far from practicing matters of Chassidus during prayer. Even if a person has heard many Chassidic teachings, nonetheless, because of little practice, coupled with preoccupation in worldly affairs, the result is that his soul and heart cannot properly receive and absorb the teachings truly, to the point that he knows not what to do with them. Even many wise and understanding people often ask what to do during prayer with all the words of the Living G_d that they have heard and understood. This shows that there is a total disconnection between the Chassidus that he heard and understood and its practical application.

Moreover, even those who know how to apply them in practice may err and delude themselves with all sorts of mistakes and foolishness until they totally leave the true path. We find an example of this in the widespread confusion throughout our Chassidic brotherhood on the subject of contemplation[1], so that even if one successfully deepens the focus[2] of his mind upon G_dliness, he will absolutely forbid himself from becoming emotionally excited at all. Rather, he will treat it as if it is forbidden meat. This, because of some general rationalizations that he has imagined based on hearsay; that excitement thwarts insight[3].

Thus, he also regards intellectual excitement as totally forbidden to him, until he ends up thinking all sorts of external thoughts during prayer or falls asleep. All this is known to anyone who admits the truth. Why should we deny these truths, especially nowadays when we lack a father and mentor etc. If each man does only that which is right in his own eyes it will not be long before those who are prone to falling will fall, without hope of ever rising again, heaven forbid.

Consequentially, in lieu of tranquility, I am very embittered to have seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears such error and folly which is the diametric opposite of the teachings of Chassidus. The very principles and fundamentals of Chassidus, which are more precious than fine gold etc. is that they be established in the soul, the mind and the heart, specifically in an aspect of excitement, whether in regard to intellectual excitement, which is called, “Listening well” or whether in regard to the emotional excitement that follows it, as scripture states, “And you shall set it upon your heart.”[4] This, literally, is the meaning of, “My G_d in my midst”[5] – in each person according to his capacity.

This is known to every novice in the teachings of Chassidus! Therefore, I am terribly embittered at seeing people walking to and fro, from corner to corner during prayer, preoccupied by thoughts that are arid and empty of any aspect of excitement in G_dliness. In my opinion, it is clear that the light of HaShem has never touched them! This does not even fall within the category of “A good thought that is connected to deed”.

That is when the truth of G_dliness is so greatly realized in one’s mind that, at the very least, it affects an excitement which brings about a state of non-awareness of self known as “Acknowledgment”. However, this only comes about through comprehending the matter of G_dliness, not by merely thinking it.

This may be compared to the contemplation of mundane matters, being that deep analysis into them, which is called, “Adhesion of the thought”, draws the soul so fully into the subject matter of that particular thought and no other, that he becomes unaware of anything other than it. This state of “Adhesion of the thought” can become so intense that it spreads over his entire being until it becomes altogether impossible for him to tear himself away from it to a different subject.

In regard to Chassidus this is found in very few individuals whose souls are truly bound to the teachings of Chassidus to the degree that it is the very life of their souls. They know that intellectual excitement is not forbidden! On the contrary, they realize that it is the very root and foundation of the truth of Chassidus.

Those who err have also prohibited emotional excitement and consider it as if it were a neveilah[6]. They regard anyone who becomes emotionally excited enough during prayer to let out a spontaneous cry, whether a cry of bitterness or a cry of joy, as having committed an abomination in Israel! Everyone looks askance at him, in shock, and the youth deride him, until, out of embarrassment he fully repents, resolving to restrain from ever letting his voice be heard again. Instead, he sits languishing in his thoughts until he falls asleep.

[1] Contemplation is called Hitbonenut, which is the intellectual examination and analysis associated with the intellectual faculty of Binah.  Binah is the innate ability to analyze a subject.

[2] Focus of the mind is called Daat, which is the intellectual interest, concentration and focus on a subject. This is associated with the intellectual faculty of Daat, which is the innate ability to connect the mind to a subject.

[3] Insight is called Haskalah, which is associated with the intellectual faculty of Chochmah. Chochmah is the innate ability to have insight into a subject.

[4] Deuteronomy 4:39

[5] Deuteronomy 31:17

[6] A neveilah is an animal that has either died or has not been slaughtered in the proper fashion and is therefore forbidden to consume.

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