Thursday, January 12, 2012

Jewish People given the privilege to refine sparks

A king once lost a precious gem from his ring, and many of his subjects—servants, ministers, generals, and so on—volunteered to search for it. However, the king refused to allow them to. Instead, he instructed his precious only son to search for the lost object and return it.

The king did not do so because he suspected that his other subjects might pocket the gem. Rather, he wanted to be able to give the opportunity to his son to find it, so that his son would receive the credit. Moreover, he even dropped his son several hints as to the whereabouts of the gem. But how did the king know so well where the gem was to be found? In fact, it was all a setup. The king had deliberately feigned to have accidentally lost the gem only so that his son would find it, and so that the father could beam with pride at his son’s accomplishment.

The Baal Shem Tov offered this parable for the spiritual process by which the sparks of holiness came into our physical world:
G-d deliberately caused the sparks of holiness to fall into the physical world, and then insisted that only the Jewish people, of whom it is said, “You are sons of Hashem, your G–d,” be charged with the mission of refining them.

efining the lofty sparks of holiness trapped in the physical world is a task and privilege specifically assigned to the Jewish people.

Wow what a privilege. And how do we refine these sparks? By doing Mitzvot and living holy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Yetzer Horah. Score points when there's opposition.

Who is this formidable foe who greets us upon our entry into this world and attempts to accompany our every action throughout our existence?

He is known as the Yetzer Harah, the Evil Inclination.

Rabbi Sholom noticed that one of his students at the yeshiva was missing on Sunday and Monday. Tuesday morning he approached him, "I know you for two years", he told the boy. "You never missed a day of yeshiva. Tell me why were you absent."

At first the student didn't want to say but then gave in, he said: " I missed yeshiva because I was at the Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer games. And I probably won't be in yeshiva tomorrow as well. It's the final day of the championship."

"How do you play this game of soccer ? How do you win?"Asked the Rabbi.

"Well," said the student, "there are eleven players, and their aim is to kick the ball into a large netted goal...

"So what's the big deal?" asked the Rabbi. "Go there, kick the ball in the goal and come back to yeshiva!"

The boy laughed. "Oh, you don't understand! There is an opposing team and their job is to stop our team from getting the ball into their goal!"

"Then why...." suggested the Rabbi, "don't you sneak into the stadium at night and kick the ball into the goal when they are not looking! Then you can win and return to yeshiva!"

"Oy! Rebbe! You don't understand. You don't score if the other team is not trying to stop you! Its no big deal to kick a ball into an empty net if there is no one trying to stop you!"

"Ah!" exclaimed the Rabbi, " It's no big deal to come to yeshiva when nothing is trying to hold you back! It is when the Yetzer Harah is crouching in the goal, that it is most difficult to score. That is when you really score points. Come tomorrow, and you can't imagine how much that is worth in G-d's scorecard!

The Yetzer Harah is our ultimate challenger. He stands crouched in the door, ready to block any shot and spring on a near hit. Our job is to realize that we must overcome him when the urge is the greatest. Because when it is most difficult to do the right thing, that is the time we can really score points!