17 Shvat 5782 / Wednesday, January 19, 2022 | Torah Reading: Va'era
 
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HomeSpirituality and FaithSpiritual GrowthChochma, Binah, Emuna
 
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Chochma, Binah, Emuna    

Chochma, Binah, Emuna



Emuna isn’t something that you can just tell yourself that you have and that’s it. You have to live and breathe it every single day, through every single situation...

 



I am the worst liar. Just ask my husband. And my mother. I don’t know why, but I could never pull off a straight lying face. For some reason, in the middle of my attempt to lie, I would start to smile. It’s so weird! Can somebody explain to me the reason for this strange smile?

 

When I was little, my mother used to catch me in a lie every time. She would tell me that she saw the red light flashing above my head when I lied. Being that I was little and very naive, I actually believed her about the red light. I never thought to look up in the middle of my lie to see if there really was a red light there. Wait a minute… I just realized something. She caught me in a lie, using a lie of her own! How twisted is that?!

 

Red light or green light, the light bulb has famously been used to reference a flash of insight, or a spark of an idea. Isn’t that a little lame already? Can’t we upgrade the light bulb to, say, some fireworks or strobe lights? And maybe add a little techno music? Wouldn’t even the worst ideas seem so much more interesting?

 

Maybe I should get to the point… Actually, what is the point? Let’s find out together, shall we?

 

The Alter Rebbe, Rav Schneur Zalman of Liadi, explains in the Tanya (vol.1, ch.3) the process by which a thought travels through the process from a spark of an idea into action.

 

Chochma - wisdom - he explains, is the first flash of intellect. It is the essence of an idea. Within this single point is included all of the details necessary to manifest the idea; yet, they are indistinguishable from one another. Basically, Chochma is the first flash of an idea, symbolized by the imaginary lightbulb/fireworks/strobe lights that go off on top of your head.

 

Binah - understanding - is the first step at breaking the idea down into parts, thus clarifying the details and steps that will be necessary to materialize the idea into action. The jumbled up confusion of an undifferentiated idea and all of its components now begins to assume an order and a “plan of action.”

 

Daat - knowledge - is the component by which a person immerses himself in his idea. The depth by which a person applies himself and his efforts to bringing his idea to fruition directly correlates with the union between his idea and his self. Depending on the amount of effort, he can literally become one with his idea.

 

A simple and common example would be someone who wants to start a business. First, Rich receives a flash of insight of a future profitable business. Second, he begins to lay out his detailed strategy to get his business going. Third, he puts forth all of his efforts into making his business successful. He lives and breathes his business, putting most of his time into thinking how he can improve his business and actually running his business.

 

The Alter Rebbe elaborates on the meaning of Daat: “After a person fully understands the idea with all its details and ramifications, he must immerse himself in it, binding and unifying himself with it to the extent that he not only understands it but also feels it. Only in this way can he be affected by the idea…”

 

In this powerful sentence, the Alter Rebbe isn’t just giving us an explanation on Daat; he’s giving us an explanation on Emuna as well.

 

Emuna isn’t something that you can just tell yourself that you have and that’s it. You have to live and breathe it every single day, through every single situation. You have to immerse yourself in it, just like if you were planning on starting a new business. At least as much.

 

Let’s apply the Alter Rebbe’s explanation to emuna: “After a person fully understands emuna with all its details and ramifications, he must immerse himself in it, binding and unifying himself with it to the extent that he not only understands it but also feels it. Only in this way can he be affected by emuna…”

 

And how does one bind himself with emuna to such an extent that he becomes one with it? Rebbe Nachman answers: he must do personal prayer every single day!

 

As I wrote previously in “Imitation Emuna,” you can’t just tell yourself that you have emuna and that’s it. It don’t work like daat. Rav Lazer Brody gives us a wonderful allusion: if a person wants to get in shape, he can’t go to the gym once or twice, then meditate on the couch and stuff his face with chips and ice cream while IM’ing his 3,493 friends on Facebook and watching “Other Space.”

 

Babe, you want muscles? U’z gotz to pump it up! Remember Hanz and Franz? You’re not supposed to be able to walk the next day! Whoever heard of getting the perfect body without hard work and/or loads of plastic surgery? So why should getting perfect emuna be any different?

 

We need strong souls to be able to withstand the impossible challenges we face these days. But they’re not going to get strong by themselves! Do Rebbe Nachman’s 60-minute daily soul-strengthening workout, and you’ll see those emuna muscles popping out in no time! Read “In Forest Fields” to get your routine going.

 

 

* * *

Feel free to send Racheli your questions, particularly in the areas of marriage, dating, child-rearing and women's role; write her at racheli@breslev.co.il





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