Thursday, 08 September 2016

Hashem is One

Part 2/4 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)
'אחת שאלתי מאת ה

There are many deep and esoteric levels of comprehension when it comes to the Mitzvos of Emunah – Faith, and the Mitzva of Yichud Hashem – the unification of Hashem. I would like to try and offer some original thoughts that can perhaps help bring these lofty concepts a little more down to earth, and explore how we can apply them in our struggles with the Yetzer Hara. Maybe if we have a better comprehension of these concepts, we can then work towards the right perspective to have when facing the battles of our Yetzer.

by Yaakov from GYE (See all authors)

What really is Emunah?

The main aspect of Emunah, as stated before, is the belief that Hashem has only one desire, to be טוב ומיטיב. But Emunah also includes other aspects, such as:

- The belief that there is no other force in the universe but Him,

- Nothing and no one else provides for any of our needs besides for Him,

- He is infinitely great, having no beginning and no end, and He is capable of absolutely anything.

But believing in all these additional aspects of Emunah is not so difficult to do. Why should we mind to believe that Hashem is the only force, and that He is infinitely great? But the main work of Emunah is to believe that Hashem is only טוב ומיטיב. In a world where each of us experiences (and witnesses) so much pain and suffering, to really believe and internalize that Hashem is absolutely good to everyone at all times - takes a lot more work! As a matter of fact, almost noone ever achieves this level of Emunah perfectly, but we spend our entire lives working towards this and trying to grow in this aspect of Emunah.

In any case, I would like to conjecture that all these other aspects of Emunah are really all pointing to this one point: that Hashem is טוב ומיטיב. How so? Well, imagine – lehavdil – that you owned a dog and this dog’s only desire was to please you, its master. Would this make you want to serve the dog in return? No, because the dog is not very great in your eyes. Now, let’s look at something infinite and awesome, like the universe. Spanning 14 billion light years, with over a hundred billion galaxies – each containing about 100 billion stars, the universe’s awesomeness and infinite nature are absolutely overwhelming to our little minds. But do these facts make us want to serve the universe? Also not, because as long as we perceive the universe as cold and unfeeling, having no interest in our personal good, why should we want to serve it? So we see from these two examples that it is only the combination of the belief in both Hashem’s absolute goodness coupled with the belief in his infinite nature and power that brings us to want to negate our will to His.

A beautiful example of this combination can be found in a Pasuk in Tehilim: “Who heals the broken hearted and bandages their sadness, Who counts the stars and names each and every one of them.” This Pasuk is describing, on the one hand, how awesomely great Hashem is, that He counts and names every one of the trillions of stars, yet, on the other hand, how concerned He is with every single broken heart. Now that is truly a G-d that we should want to negate our will to!

To help us understand how His greatness helps us negate our will, imagine if the president of United States, who has a hand in helping millions of people, was visiting your city and asked you, a simple bystander, to hold his briefcase for him and accompany him down the road while everyone cheered him on. Would we consider this a bothersome chore, or would we do this with the greatest joy for the great honor he is giving us to be of service to him? Surely, we would be delighted to do it and not even feel the weight of the briefcase that we are holding! In the same way, the greater Hashem is in our eyes and the more He is “only good” in our eyes, the easier it becomes to negate our will to His. Perhaps this is why, after we say the Pasuk of Shema and unify Hashem (as discussed before, the unity of His will being that He has only one desire - to do good for His creations), we then add the Pasuk "Blessed is the name of His glorious Kingdom for ever and ever." This Pasuk strengthens our Emunah in G-d's awesomeness as well, so that with the combination of His absolute goodness AND his awesome greatness, we can then “love Him with all your hearts, all your soul and all your means,” as expressed in the Pasuk that follows.

There’s another aspect to Emunah as well, that Hashem is the ONLY force and the ONLY provider. How does this tie in to Hashem’s goodness? Well, let’s say we believed that Hashem is absolutely good and awesome, but we would also believe - chas veshalom - there are also other gods who provide for some of our needs (e.g. people believed once in rain gods, fertility gods, etc.), then would we ONLY want to serve Hashem? We would want to serve these other gods, as well. Therefore, the belief that there is only ONE GOD who is the absolute SOLE provider of all our needs, is an integral part of the Mitzva of Emunah that Hashem is טוב ומיטיב (and we therefore only want to serve Him).

So all these different aspects of Emunah (a) that He is infinitely great (b) that He is only good (c) that there is no other god or provider besides Him, are really all part of the single most important aspect of Emunah – that Hashem is טוב ומיטיב. And like we said before, that aspect of Emunah is where the real avodah (work) lies.

GYE Admin