Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Gate Six : Surrendering to G-d

Ch. 9

One of the most perplexing of spiritual dilemmas is how to mix G-d and oneself together without losing either. Or in other words, how to somehow affirm ourselves in a healthy way, yet reach out to G-d humbly and obediently at the same time. What we're told here is that there are good and bad ways to affirm oneself, and that the difference lies in the fact that the good ways still allow for G-d in the equation.

It comes down to the fact that we especially tend to exclude G-d when we take pride in our physical and worldly achievements, as when we're proud of our professional rank, for example, or our good looks. For when we concentrate on those kinds of things, we signal that we take G-d's direct role in them lightly, we disregard the ephemeral nature of those sorts of things, and we take personal credit for it (which is no more logical when it comes to intellect, good looks, and the like than taking credit for the wealth you inherited).

On the other hand, when we affirm our *spiritual* achievements, we tend to allude to and include G-d. But there are in fact good and bad ways to take pride in those sorts of things, since we could slip up and exclude G-d from them, too.

So Ibn Pakudah states that it's wrong for those of us who have achieved some modicum of spiritual excellence to take pride in what we've already done. Since that also tends to focus on the self, and "makes you content with what you have already done", as he put it. His point seems to be that once you feel that you can "rest on your laurels" like that, you set yourself above G-d's will and wishes, and show that you feel that your actions are *your's* to determine (which flies in the face of surrendering to G-d's will).

That sort of pride also demonstrates that you believe that what you're doing can be evaluated in human terms, and it sets you up as the final arbiter of who else has succeeded or failed at *their* spiritual goals. But who, other than G-d Almighty, can determine that?

It's nonetheless *important and commendable* to affirm your good deeds when you know you engaged in them in return for all the great good that G- d has granted you; when having done them spurs you on to do yet more; when it makes it easier for you to humble yourself to those who have done even more than you; when it has you love, sympathize with, defend, and respect others; and when it has you thank G-d for enabling you to accrue such spiritual wealth.


Text Copyright © 2004 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON SHOFTIM AND ELUL / ROSH HASHANAH:

View Complete List

A Breath of Air
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5769

Elul: A Month of Preparation
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

Tuff Trust Tuff Love
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5765

ArtScroll

The Tactics of the Satan
- 5767

Nevuah: Words of the Prophets
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5768

First in the Mind!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

Looking for a Chavrusah?

'Sin... Don't Laugh!'
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5755

Wake Up!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5767

The Most UN-Just
Rabbi Label Lam - 5770

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Leave it Up to the King
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5764

Ant-i Lesson
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5759

To Begin--to Cook from Within
Rabbi Label Lam - 5766

> Shofar: The Court Summons
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5766

That Prescient Moment of Pause…
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

Royal Humility
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5761

Appointing An Unworthy Judge = Planting An Ashera: Why?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5773



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information