Who We Are

Who are we?


Rabbi Yossi Jacobson spoke that the Baal Shem Tov had a major innovation, namely to reveal to us Jews, that we are in essence God.


Now why is this important – the answer he gave is that people abhor doing what others tell them to do, and love doing what they themselves, tell themselves to do.


In fact, the Rebbe alludes to this in a talk explaining why there was such a joy in Simchas Beis Hashoivah (the water drawing festival, upon which our sages declare, whoever didn’t see simchas beis hashoaivah never saw happiness in their lives) and the Rebbe explains, because in every Mitzvah there is an element of compulsion to it (for it is the command of the king) but as this was a custom and none were compelled, hence they did it out of their own free choice and as such it was truly deliriously joyful!


In a certain sense, this is absolutely clear (and the very reason why God created that our society should have brought about such results) in the difference between how someone brought in Torah and Mitzvos does a Mitzvah and someone who embraced it with true free choice (actually leaving behind their previous upbringing and choosing such a lifestyle,) in their association to Mitzvos.


One does it because it is simply a necessity, the other does it with absolutely deliriously happiness, for it is not a necessity, rather an opportunity to elevate himself beyond his previously somewhat meaningless and perhaps even debased lifestyle, into a holy kedushah, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation!


How our minds fool us


Our minds are incredible machines; we come up with inventions, we can rationalize anything, we can compare things far better than any computer can (that’s why computers cannot read those funny little catchu letters and numbers, but humans can.)


In other words, each of us – and if we see ourselves mainly as our hearts, our feelings, or essentially as the Rebbe says, we are our opinions – then we must know that our computer goes to work for us.


So, say I have an opinion that a. is a very bad guy, then my brain / computer is instructed to verify my opinion and begins to see everything wrong with a.


On the other hand, say my opinion based on my love is that a. (who happens say to be my father) is a very good guy, well then my computer is just as able to deny anything negative I see.


Ultimately our brains are not, nor can be the source of truth, for they are working for us.


Imagine going into a room and seeing a whole bunch of computers looking at sights that they shouldn’t be.


Now obviously you can’t blame the computers for those computers were manipulated into action by the people behind them.


In a similar sense, reality is very very simple, there are certain feelings which are worth having and certain ones which are not.


People used to think – based on their desire to think this of course – as Nike’s famous line used to be, “if it feels good, just do it.”


In other words, they wanted to fulfill their instinctual desires, so they created a society that extolled the virtue of instant gratification.


The trouble with instant gratification is that as it is instant, it disappears as fast as it comes.


So after enough instant gratification its not even gratifying anymore, as the famous adage of our sages – there is no such thing as a constant pleasure, for if you indulge in something, it ceases to be pleasurable.


So the flip side is, people realized that life cannot be based on fulfilling man’s instincts; and searching for the truth, they realized that God is true and the Torah is true.


And of course we all know – and this is the point of this article – that they key message of the Torah is “love your friend as much as yourself” and the flipside of that is “do not hold any grudges in your heart” – and if we truly want to do this, well then our brains will already figure out how!!!


Is God Natural


One of the biggest mistakes we humans make is categorizing things.


In fact our entire reality is a series of categorization.


One of the first things God did after he created something, was give it a name “And he called the light day, and the darkness night.”


Names are categories. Nouns are, people, places, and things.


It is a succinct way for communication.


But the truth is, that just as categories reveal through communication, they also conceal through limiting the object to what we perceive it to be.


We also categorize through association, so older women may give me a good or bad feeling as older men, based on my relationship to someone who was an older woman in my past AKA Mom or Dad.


Dog, may make me run or run toward them, as I had a puppy they remind me of.


The bottom line is, that we categorize based on our perception, which are based on our highly highly limited range of experiences.


Now the point of this article is that when it comes to God we also categorize.


We even have a name for this, its called anthropomorphization.


To compare God to the greatest human possible.


This is in fact why some religions make God into a man, for it works quite neatly in a visual format.


Judaism was the first religion to reject physical limitations to a wholly spiritual being and in fact even reject spiritual limitation and according to Chassidus / Kabbalah assert, that the most we can know about him is that he in fact is not compared to anything we know, or he is not limited in any way, shape, and form; while everything we know, can be categorized.


So is God natural?


The answer is yes.


You see, when we say someone is natural, it means he has no hang-ups, he is simple, he acts without airs, without pretension, naturally.


In a similar sense, we often relegate God to the supernatural, but if God is running the world, how come we don’t see so many supernatural events?


The answer of course is, as our sages teach us, that God doesn’t make miracles superfluously.


Every miracle is not God, rather it is a window for people stuck in the category of nature to realize that there is a supernatural force in charge of nature – which is the only way a miracle can occur.


In other words, God actually is present and acts naturally i.e. he acts through nature, so when something unexpected occurs to you (ironically even for the negative) that is a supernatural force acting naturally.