Monday, May 03, 2010

The Active Ingredient in Chassidus

Every Jew constitutes "adequate soil" for absorbing Torah. No matter how old he or she is, no matter how many times it has been learned, Torah is unique in that it sheds new light each time it's studied. After all, Torah is an infinite fountainhead.

A seed, when planted in adequate soil, first undergoes a deterioration, a rotting, before it recovers and blossoms into a plant or tree. This is a powerful metaphor for a person who seeks to gain new spiritual heights. Before he can reach his lofty goal, he first must resolve to set aside his ego, as it were, so that it cannot interfere, in order to fully concentrate and absorb the new material. As long as he retains resistance to the ensuing climb, he'll not make it. In Chassidic terminology, it is "a descent for the sake of an ascent".

Another metaphor: No matter how clean the water that you pour into your cup, if you failed to remove the dirt left in the cup, the clean water also becomes dirty. Similarly, if you approach your new field of study with prejudices, you'll not only not advance, but you'll misconstrue what's being taught.

Yet another metaphor is the feat of the high-jump. In order for the athlete to perfect his trajectory over the bar, he first must take a few steps backwards before he thrusts himself forward and upwards. Only thereby will he ultimately succeed.

The single main difference between the Chassidic and other forms of Judaism manifests in the characteristic of humility, particularly by self-negation of one's own desires in deference to those of the righteous leader of his generation. It is not enough to know that every generation has its "Moses of the generation"; He must also acquiesce to the desires of that sage.

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