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Hashem is our Mikva

the.guard Thursday, 29 April 2021
Hashem is our Mikva

We all sing Rebbe Akivah's ma'amar about "Mikveh Yisroel Hashem" on Lag ba'Omer... Do 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.

I'm not saying there is no magic in mitzvos. All I said is that there is a very thin line between looking at them that way and kishuf, or mindless rituals of savages, for that matter....

The Zohar hakadosh tells us that any mitzvha without yir'ah and ahava "leis parchin l'eila" - it doesn't fly up (literally). It compares yir'ah and ahava in the mitzvah act to "wings". Now, I ask you. Is this to be taken to mean that we are not yotzei the mitzvah without ahava and yir'ah? Can't be. That would be one mama of a machlokes between nigla and nistar - which (more than only the Gr"a agrees) cannot really happen. Rather, I believe that the Zohar hakadosh is telling us that there is a lot of different things that our mitzvos accomplish. One of those things is to "fly up", whatever that means. The Nefesh Hachayim goes into this issue quite extensively, I think. I also believe (uh-oh) that what "flies up" isn't just the mitzvah, it is the person (or perhaps the neshoma of the person) who is doing the mitzvah. He (or his neshoma) has an aliyah through the mitzvah.

So, perhaps there are a lot of things that going to the mikvah will accomplish. I'm just trying to say that for freedom and recovery, addicts like me need an attitude of simple reliance and expectancy of help from Hashem, much more than we need tikunim like mikvah. And if that's agreed, then I see a danger when my mind offers me shortcuts to that - even if they do do something... There's nothing like the real thing, baby. And the more I focus on the shortcuts and automatics, the more I fear that I'll lose the Real Thing! Our religion is not about serving the Torah, it's about G-d. The derech Eitz chayim is the Torah - but it's still only about G-d. And a personal G-d! Maybe the average yid doesn't need to see the difference, but I sure do. I'm sick and need strong medicine!

Chassidism came to Europe to teach that, I believe, and it got the same kind of reaction from the good-ol' frum yidden: "What? The next thing you're gonna say is that the Christians are right and all we need to do is believe and that's it!" They discovered that the Chassidim were injecting life into kiyum hamitzvos, that's all. It was the people they were changing, not the Torah.

"Our religion is not about serving the Torah, it's about G-d."