Saturday, 10 December 2011

Mikveh Yisroel Hashem

Part 1/2 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)

by Dov (See all authors)

We all sing Rabbee Akivah's ma'amar about "Mikveh Yisroel Hashem" on Lag ba'Omer... don't we hear what we are saying?


Hashem is our Mikvah - not the mikvah, but Hashem. Now, what's that supposed to mean? To me, it means that our mikvah of water is an embodiment of Hashem's Chesed. When we connect to Hashem in His Chesed (Love), we are immediately purified. His Chesed is above all Dinim, and certainly "above" all Tum'ah, as Tum'ah is only an expression of Dinim. Our Tum'ah isn't really removed - rather, it becomes irrelevant.


So it is all about Hashem after all, at least the way I see it. But this has to be real, to accomplish anything at all.


For those who in their hearts are still looking at the mikvah as having some magical power endowed by Hashem, I maintain that they are disconnecting the whole idea of mikvah from Hashem. Malochim and stars are also endowed with power. Uh-oh.


No matter how much kedusha and tahara those fellows feel they are connecting to, to me it's still the opposite of the recovery I know in my life. At its root, it'd still be all about me and my power to finally "beat this thing". It's white-knuckling. To me, white-knuckling doesn't get any better by using Hashem's name a lot or by my being more dedicated to Torah and mitzvos - it's still white-knuckling and brings no relief. The struggle and "pressure" only builds up over time that way. Double uh-oh.


Don't get me wrong. I am very pro-mikvah. My only point is that Mikveh Yisroel Hashem: it has to be all about Hashem, not our struggle. Not about beating lust. Not about winning, but about Hashem. Should He decide to lift me above the lust, great! It's up to Him. All I can do is try to connect to him by mesiras nefesh, which literally means "giving myself and my will over to Him". If mikveh helps me do that, it'll work - like a charm! If not, it's just another opportunity for disillusionment with yiddishkeit. Again.

Someone replies to Dov:

The quote from Rabbi Akiva is that "just as mikveh purifies the impure - AUTOMATICALLY, i.e. the mere act of being completely submerged in those waters of life work their 'magic', so too, connecting to Hashem - completely, will purify us from our blemishes - AUTOMATICALLY!!!

So Reb Dov, tell us why it didn't work for you, & why you doubt it will work for anyone with a problem. I know that it didn't work for me either. After all, I had all this knowledge for years and I still couldn't control myself before coming to GYE!

Dov replies:

I never meant that Rabbi Akiva was saying we don't need the watery kind of mikvah, just that he was reminding us that it isn't the mitzvah (any mitzvah) itself that has power, but it is the fact that it's G-d's Will that is the power. That is perhaps why most rishonim hold "mitzvos tzrichos kavonoh". Doing an act that is technically a mitzvah without attaching it to G-d is just a dead fish... in a mikvah :-) And I feel that there is a very thin line between kishuf and believing in the automatic power of any mitzvah, without a focus on G-d in the act. Maybe there is a line, but it looks real thin to me! Mitzvas anashim melumada is not a good thing.

And please don't mistake what I am saying as having anything to do with doing things truly l'Shem Shomayim or not. That is a much higher level than just knowing that "this act is G-d's Will". All I am talking about is being aware that it's not the act that Hashem wants, it is the awareness in us that it is His Will. Whether we mix ulterior motives in with that is another issue, and a lifetime's work, I guess.


So, maybe yes, maybe no, but all I know is that if I am not sober today my chances of being able to ask Rabbi Akiva in person real soon, go way up! (at least maybe I'll be able to yell the question to him while I'm passing by on the down escalator!)