How Can We Reach Our Goals? 

Who are you really? Here's Rabbi Arush’s amazing answer: You are all good. You want only good. You truly want to act according to Hashem’s will. Your journey through life, like Avraham’s journey, depends on focusing on who you really are!

6 min

Rabbi Shalom Arush

Posted on 12.11.22

Translated from Rabbi Arush’s feature article in the weekly Chut shel Chessed newsletter. The articles focus on his main message: “Loving others as yourself”.

Life as a Journey 

The Jewish People were born into a journey. Our first encounter with Avraham is during a family trip from Ur Casdim to Charan. And the first command of the Creator of the World to Avraham Avinu is to set out on another journey to the unknown, and this time on his own. 

“The deeds of the fathers are signs to the sons.” The Jewish People were born at the Exodus from Egypt. We were born into a journey, a long journey to the unknown, and for most of our days as a people we have been wandering from place to place, from one exile to another. The personal life of each and every Jew is also a journey, both physical and spiritual. 

And just like in any journey one needs a map and a compass – or, in their modern version, a “Waze” program – so too in our life journey we need a navigation program that will guide our way in the confusing paths of This World. It probably seems to you that there is no such program for the spiritual world, but that is not so. Our spiritual navigation program is as old as the world, and is built into us.  

Avraham Avinu is each and every one of us. He is the archetype of every Jew. And when Avraham Avinu set out on a journey, Hashem revealed to him the best navigation program: “Lech lecha – Go to/for yourself.” He did not say to him just, “Go from your land”, but, rather, “Go to/for yourself from your land.” What is the meaning of lecha? The Chassidic writings explain that it means to yourself, to your self-hood, to your inner essence. 

Who Are You? 

And what is our self? Our self is the soul, which is “a portion of the Divine from above,” part of the Creator, so to speak. And the Creator is wholly truth, wholly good, wholly straight. And therefore, our self-hood, our inner self – is wholly truth, wholly good and wholly straight and upright.  

Rabbi Natan of Breslev explains that the world is full of falsehood, full of dangerous mistakes that lead the person down ruinous paths and distance him from his goal. The falsehood’s source is one’s society and environment – “from your land”; as well as the body, the desires and the bad traits that are embedded in our bodies from the time we were born – “your birthplace.” And even the family is a source of falsehood: Not everything a person absorbs in his parents’ home is pure truth, and that is “from your father’s house.” 

How does one get away from all this and neutralize all the negative influences? Rabbi Natan explains that one can achieve that by the way of “Lech lecha”, by attaching yourself to your inner truth that exists within, to your soul, your self-hood. Because when you say “I”, you don’t mean your hand or your foot, nor your entire body. When you say “I”, you mean your soul, and it is pure and illuminates your inner truth for you, because the soul is wholly truth. 

Blessed Is He Who Differentiates 

Sometimes it’s hard for us to hear the inner truth, and then tzaddikim come and help us hear its voice. They help us differentiate between the good and the bad, truth and falsehood, the influences of “your land, your birthplace and your father’s home” and “Lech lecha”.  

The most dangerous voice is the voice of falsehood masquerading as the voice of truth, and the tzaddikim strengthen us and teach us how to identify the counterfeit truth. The main lie of the yetzer hara (evil inclination) is its weakening, supposedly true claims: You sin, you have base desires. That means that you are bad (chalila). That means that you only want bad (chalila). That means that Hashem doesn’t love you (chalila), that you have no merits or importance (chalila). 

These are the most dangerous mistakes, because the yetzer hara won’t try to tempt you to do outright sins; they are clearly falsehoods. Man is quite strong and able to withstand all the desires and bad traits easily, as Rabbi Nachman says.  

The only weapon of the yetzer hara is to tire out and weaken the person by using the false “truth”, to break his spirit, so that he will stop recognizing his true worth, stop recognizing his good wishes, forget who he is and what his essence is, and forget how much Hashem loves him and is happy with him and is proud of him and wants to help him.  

The false “truth” causes man to persecute himself, and blame himself, and that is the most wearing and dangerous thing for the neshama. Only when the person is all tired out and weakened – only then do his powers of resistance break down, and then the yetzer hara can “sell” him even the biggest and clearest falsehoods, and the person will have no strength to resist and protect himself. 

Staying True To The Inner Light 

Hashem says to Avraham “Lech lecha” – go with the light of your soul. Don’t listen to all the incitements and temptations of the yetzer hara that wishes to weaken you and make you forget who you really are. Remain connected at all times to your essence: You are all good. You want only good. That is your essence and inner reality. You truly want to act according to Hashem’s will. You want to observe Torah and mitzvot completely, no matter what your situation is and how successful you are. And even if you fall and fail – that is not your essence! That is not you! 

Also, always know that you are very important and dear to Heaven, because you have a portion of the Divine in you that only you can reveal in the world. There is an aspect of Hashem’s honor that only you can reveal in the world. There is no one else who can cause the pleasure to Hashem that you can. Hashem is happy with you. Hashem is proud of you. Hashem loves you constantly, in any situation, and does only good for you and wants to do more good to you and help you much more, and that is His honor and greatness! That he always loves and helps in every situation.  

That is the Lech lecha of each and everyone of us, male and female. And in the journey of life, we have to stay true to this inner voice. 

Revealing the Truth 

On Erev Rosh Hashanah we do hatarat nedarim – releasing ourselves from our vows, and afterwards we announce that we annul any future vow we will make all year. In other words, in spite of the fact that during the year we will make various types of vows, we make an announcement at the beginning of the year that all these vows are not coming from our deep and inner will, but rather from various influences that have nothing to do with us, and therefore they are null and void. But now, at the time of this announcement, when we are in our right minds and know and remember what we really want – now we can tell everyone that our real will is not to make any vows at all. 

And that is a very good and wonderful piece of advice – to make such an announcement every day to Hashem and tell Him: “Ribbono shel Olam (Master of the Universe), my inner will is good. My inner will is to believe in You completely. My inner will is to do Your will completely. Even if during the day I don’t behave accordingly – that is not me; that is not my inner will. It does not say anything about my essence.” 

Even after a failure, instead of persecuting yourself, and being angry at yourself, and thinking that Hashem doesn’t love you anymore – which would be a big mistake on your part, and you would be in danger of being completely lost – instead, get up and announce: “This is not me. this is not my essence. I don’t want this. I want to do teshuva, to repent. Hashem loves me and wants to help me!” 

For the benefit of the dear readers, we will bring here a short version of such an announcement, based on one written by Rabbeinu, the Ben Ish Chai, concisely and in the spirit of what we have said here: 

I hereby reveal my will before the Holy One, Blessed Be He, that I wish to believe in Him completely and serve him wholeheartedly for the sake of His Name, with love, and to give Him pleasure. And that is my entire essence and inner spirit. 

And I hereby annul completely any thought, speech, and deed, and any intention and tendency that are not in keeping with His will, yitbarach, and I make a condition, that they will all be null and void. And I know and believe completely that Hashem loves me in any state I’m in, and I annul completely any bad thought about myself and about the Creator, and any self-persecution and self-blame.” 

 

 

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