“The whole earth is filled with His glory” (Yishayah 6:3)
Everyone wants to be an important and special person. A person doesn’t have to be the most learned and holy person to be important to Hashem. What Hashem truly desires is that a person attaches themselves to Him at all times. It is the Kavanos Halev, the intentions we have in our heart that make a person real. This heartfelt state of mind is the purest form of praise to Hashem.
To be connected to Hashem is the greatest enjoyment. No longer do you worry over the material problems in your life, you realize that all that happens is according to Hashem’s plan. Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz said, “When you believe that everything is from Hashem, blessed be He, then there is no evil or bad at all- there is just all good. (Tosefta l’Midrash Pinchas, #187)
Living ones life without feeling a personal connection to Hashem can make you miserable. The Jewish soul isn’t supposed to be in existence apart from the light sustaining in. Depression, anxiety and worries all stem from a separation from Hashem. It is this separation from Hashem that we must work on rekindling.
When a person transgresses a commandment they are placing a small article in the way of the streaming light of Godliness coming down to them. After transgressing yet another commandment, they put another article in front of the channels of light coming down to them. Feeling an absence of closeness to Hashem they then fall further into transgression thinking there to be no G-D sustaining them. The channel is completely blocked up and only a small light remains. If chas-shalom this is your stage at this moment, then search for that small light. When you find it, think of the happiness that you are a Jew and think of all the good deeds you have done in life. Only in a state of happiness can you remove these obstructions you have caused by your sins. One by one repent seeking out the first evidence of sin of each matter. Slowly the small light will increase becoming larger and larger. The barriers created by your sins are removed. You are free. Once again you are connected to Hashem.
Clearing the channels should be something that should be repeated each and every night before going to sleep. Your sins must be constantly before you as King David says, “My sin I acknowledge to You, and my iniquity I do not hide”.
Besides for making sure there are no abstractions blocking the light of holiness, it is also important to draw unto oneself more light. By doing things in order to please Hashem, we draw close to Him. The mitzvos are a vital life-force for us. Each mitzvah has been calculated by Hashem to bring us close to Him.
An essential part of drawing close is also to nullify oneself. Without this aspect, it is literally impossible to be close to Hashem. He does not want someone to be near Him who thinks highly of themselves. After-all, wasn’t the good actions a person does their purpose of being created, to serve Him. The spiritual realms are closed to those who enter thinking themselves to be somebody important. We are absolutely nothing compared to Hashem. One of the greatest faults one can come to through being close to Hashem is the idea of thinking one has self power. Everything we have is completely from Hashem. If it wasn’t His will, we would not be able to even more a finger. Therefore, we are but a simple being created to nullify ourselves to His will. The moment we think differently, we have separated ourselves from Him significantly.
Another way to draw close to Hashem is through mystical intentions otherwise known as Kabbalah. The entire idea of Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, is for a person to concentrate on the spiritual and to divest themselves from the physical. In doing so, they are able to elevate spiritual elements directly. In its simplest form, a person can perform a mitzvah having in mind their love of Hashem and in a more complex form; they can concentrate on different letter formations called Yichudim, unifications.
Being that Yichudim is too advanced for most people except for the great Tzaddikim; The Holy Baal Shem Tov took this concept of attachment to Hashem and brought it down even further for us. He says, “Whatever you see, remember the Holy One, blessed be He. Thus [when seeing an aspect of] fear recall the fear of Hashem. Even when going to the bathroom have in mind ‘I am separating the bad from the good,’ with the good remaining for the Divine service. This is the concept of yichudim. Similarly, when going to sleep think that your mental faculties go to the Holy One, blessed be He, and will be strengthened for the Divine service.” (Tzava’at Harivash 22)
Few of us are on the level of the great masmidim who would learn continuously not even stopping to take something to eat. Therefore, even more so, we must work hard to elevate our daily activities to the level of true avodas Hashem. Our first thought is that even this is above us. To attach everything we do to Hashem seems inconceivable. What we don’t realize is that this is a rather simple matter. Hashem is already shinning His light of sustenance upon us. We just need to make a direct connection to what we are doing with Hashem.
The Baal Shem Tov teaches an interesting method towards attaching oneself to Hashem during mundane matters. He says, “Attach yourself to the Creator, blessed be He, and in that state of attachment pray for some need of your household, or do or speak something though there is no necessity for that act or speech. Carry this out in order to train yourself to have your thought connected to the Creator, blessed be He, even when you are occupied in actions or speech relating to material matters, to become habitual to a state of d'veikus at that time. (Tzava’at Harivash 81)
The purpose of creation was for a man to attach himself to His creator. If it wasn’t for this concept, the world would not be in existence. That is how much it meant to Hashem that he have lesser beings serve him. It was in order to give over this holy d'vekus, light of attachment to others. Only Am Kidoshecha, His holy nation can reach these states of attachment. Happy are we and how good is our portion if we are able to connect ourselves at all times to this light.
Some people just assume that attachment to Hashem is only during prayer and torah study. These times are the most logical moments we would think should bring us to high spiritual levels. The challenge is connecting yourself during the least practical moments. Moments which are devoid of general happiness and feelings of accomplishment. For example, the middle of the night when your child is screaming and you have barely slept. If one sanctifies themselves during the least expected times, they will find they can elevate their being far more then expected.
If you would tell a normal person that they could experience the Shechinah, they might laugh at you. They will attempt to quote sources which say it is impossible. When Hashem exiled His children, He sent with them the Shechinah to watch over them. The Shechinah is not something you see physically but it is something you feel. The Baal Shem Tov remarks, “Think that you look at the shechinah which is at your side just as you look at physical objects”. (Tzava’as Harivash 137) What he is saying is that you should feel the Shechinah’s presence so strongly that it is physical for you. A person becomes more sensitive to things as they become more accustom to them. We have to accustom ourselves to be more sensitive to our spiritual surroundings.
Rabbi Shmuel of Slonim said, “The explanation why many people do not sense a closeness to Hashem, blessed be He, from their Torah study and prayer, is that they have no real continuity in their service of Hashem. When they serve Hashem, they seem to do so in an off-and-on manner. One minute they become enthused to do something and then they stop- then again they become enthused and again they stop. If instead, you serve Him, blessed be He, continually, without cease, surely that is when you will feel a real attachment and closeness to Him, blessed be He. (Divrei Shmuel, p.211, #90)
The Maggid of Mezritch says this same thing but in a little stronger way. “If you see that someone sometimes serves Hashem and sometimes does not, you can be certain that he has never truly served Hashem as he should. For, if he had served Hashem even on one occasion as he should, then he would serve Him continuously.” (Or ha-Emes, p. 48)
It would certainly be a shame if we went through our life never really experiencing even a brief moment of true attachment to Hashem. Baring in mind how difficult it could be for a mere mortal to connect themselves to Him, Hashem gave us a vehicle to assistance us. He gave us the mitzvos.
It says in the Zohar, “A wooden beam that will not burn should be splintered and it will become aflame.” (Zohar 3:166b, 168a) The mitzvos are completely attached to Hashem as they are His thoughts, His will. By performing a mitzvah, we become nullified in His will. When performed with simcha, a mitzvah becomes a chariot into the highest spiritual avenues.
Reb Elimelech of Lizensk explains that there are two kinds of tzaddikim, on two levels, one higher then the other: There is a Tzaddik who serves Hashem by means of the mitzvos, and guards himself from violating, God Forbid, any small mitzvah. However, he is not on the level where, by means of the mitzvos, he is able to come to d’vekus with Hashem, blessed be He. A tzaddik like this will look forward to his compensation in the World to come. The other type of tzaddik serves Hashem with thoughts totally pure, and, by means of the mitzvos cleaves to Hashem, blessed be He. A tzaddik like this draws to himself the pleasure of the World to Come, and he, as it were, enjoys the radiance of the Shechinah in this world. He does not need to look forward to the World to Come, for he experiences the splendor of the World to Come in this world. Similar to what is said in Talmud Berachos, where the Rabbis bestow the blessing, “May you perceive your reward in your lifetime”- that you merit to be such a tzaddik, that you be in d’vekus at all times, and experience the delights of the World to Come in your lifetime. (Noam Elimelech Terumah, p. 41b)
Before leaving this world, the Baal Shem Tov’s father said to his little son, “My child, always remember that Hashem is with you. Never let this thought leave you mind. Go deeper and deeper into it every hour and every minute, and in every place.” (Ikkarei Emunah, p.11)
The Rebbe of Peasetzna explained, “Numerous times during the day, at home and outside on the street, reflect, with a broken heart: ‘All the world is Godliness, even the particles of earth underneath my feet, as well as the air I breathe inside me- and the reality of all that exists is Godliness. Why then have I alone separated myself from all this exalted camp of the Shechinah, to be independent unto myself? Master of the World! Bring me close to You, surrounded with all Your blessings, and in complete repentance!” (B’nai Machshavah Tovah, Seder Hadracha v’Klalim, #7)
Elsewhere he says, “But even prior to the illustrious vision [of Hashem] is actually revealed to you, where you see that all the world is Godliness… nevertheless, absorb yourself each day deeper in the thought: ‘I do not see it, but does not Hashem’s glory fill the world, and did He not create it from Godliness? Am I not also filled with Godliness, and are not even the particles of earth on which I walk [Godliness]?
The entire world is included in the holiness of His Godliness in complete nullification; all that exists does His will. Only I alone, in my own willfulness, have removed myself as a separate thing, distant from Him, Blessed be He, to wander outside this great camp of the Shechinah.
By meditating on this constantly, and by fixing it in your mind, then you force this thought on yourself… and it is unforeseeable that through this the holy vision not be revealed in your soul. For by itself this is what your soul continually sees-it is just the body that obscures its holy vision. When you force this thought on your body, contemplating on it continuously, your soul emerges and sees. If not at all times, at least there will be lofty moments and hours when you will see.” (B’nai Machshavah Tovah, Seder Emtzai v’Yesod haHevrah, #14)
If Hashem desired it, He could have created the world to look like a waist-land. A place with little tree’s, few animals, plants and flowers are rare commodity. This isn’t the case though, the world is so beautiful. There is so much detail in each aspect of creation. The beauty in a little rose could be meditated upon for hours. Its color is bright and refreshing. The smell that comes forth is one to dream of bringing a person to moments of bliss. Now if only in our minds we connect this little flower back to its source of true nourishment. There is truly nothing in creation that cannot be used to help us draw close to Hashem our Creator.
Most of us don’t spend our entire day surrounded by the beauty of the forests and hills. Still though, if we only paid attention, we would see many marvelous wonders we seem to overlook on a daily basis. When we see a manmade invention, we do not always appreciate that its source is from Hashem. All these physical matters contain light and Hashem put them before us in order that they should help us see His glory. Even a little rock on a sandy beach should bring us to a level of Devekus that we could dance right then and there before our Creator blessed be He.
Being that many of us sit before a computer monitor working for a living or behind a desk, our task at connecting our thoughts and actions to Hashem might be a little more difficult. It is certainly within our grasp though. As stated above, it is a good idea to teach yourself slowly how to connect yourself to Hashem while doing mundane matters.
At times when you feel yourself being separated from Hashem, call out in a heartfelt tone. “Master of the World, all I want is to close to You. Draw me near to You. I cannot bare being separated from You.” Do this, until you become accustomed to being connected to Hashem at all times. As spoken about elsewhere in this sefer, it is also helpful to attach yourself to Hashem by picture the holy name of YKVK.
A person should think to themselves, “When will I be worthy that the light of the Shechinah dwell within me?” (Tzavvas ha-Ribash p.2) If you yearn for holiness then Hashem will bring it to you. Without the yearnings of the heart, a person would not feel life inside them. Make a commitment that all of the yearnings of your heart should be directed towards Hashem.
Rabbi Mordechai of Tchernobil taught, “You must sever all your desires and crave for d’vekus with the Supernal Light of the Creator, blessed be His name, with love and longing and yearning, until your soul is about to expire from the sweetness of the d’vekus. This should be every minute and second, and you shouldn’t cease from this for one minute. (Likkutei Torah, Hadracha 1)
It is a good idea before doing any mitzvah or action to state specifically that you are doing this entirely for Hashem. This way, a simple task is elevated to greater levels. There are many prayers which have been created by our sages which can be said before performing specific mitzvos. If you cannot find these prayers then feel free to say a few words of your own. The main thing is that you find a way to elevate as many mundane matters as possible.
By doing all of these things we have taught, it is impossible to think that we would not complete our tasks in this world. We will be a living and breathing true servant of Hashem, blessed be He. The realization that the “whole world is full of His glory”, will become a part of us. Those around us will bask in the light that surrounds us because of our direct connection to Hashem. To others, we will be able to give of ourselves the special light of our soul. Our soul will be pure and in d’vekus with Hashem. This realness is not depended upon our level of Genius; it is the simple ness of being nullified completely in our source. May the Kavanos Halev, meditations of the heart, bring us to a complete and true avodas Hashem.
Prayer for Kavnos HaLev
Thank you, Hashem for allowing me, a simple Jew to speak to you of the troubles of my heart. Hashem, I am so distracted by the things of this world that I forget there is a Creator controlling all events. I’m so busy with work and daily chores that there is little time to meditate on the purpose of the world. If only I could feel your nearness, it would mean so much to me.
I know the sages have told us that we can elevate even our sleep to a level of true devotion to Hashem but this is something I feel far from. It’s almost as if it’s so easy to become close to you that I therefore push You away instead. Help me, Hashem to turn around my life and make it real. Enable me to connect everything I do to You.
Everywhere I look I am able to see Your glory. When I take notice, there are times that I still lack the concentration and devotion I should have from seeing Your wonders. Help me to appreciate the things I have been blessed with and the happenings of my life. Allow me to reflect before performing the mitzvos.
Thank you, Hashem for Your patience with me. Thank you for all the times that I was far from You and nonetheless, you drew me near to You even though I was unworthy.