פרשת בראשית

In the Beginning God created

Created ברא is an expression of strengthening. Initially, the foundations [of creation] were fortified and strengthened in order for them to receive creation. Like a king who builds a vault for his treasure, he reinforces the foundations and the walls so they are able to hold what he places in them.
And the heavens שמים and the earth ארץ are the foundations of the world. They are also referring to the [two foundations of] the soul of a person-the heart and mind.
At the moment a person wants to progress/exist according to the will of God so that she will be a fully-realized being, she needs to strengthen and fortify her two foundations. She must release thought and reason, and all the desires of the heart, to God. To make God sovereign over heart and mind, to not act according to them when they express anything other than the will of God.
As the Baal Shem Tov said: Wherever her thought is, that is where all of her is to be found.
And this is the interpretation of the verse (Proverbs 23:26), Give your heart to me, my son; Let your eyes watch my ways.”
Give your heart to me, my son, and consequently your eyes watch my ways. For when you give your heart to God, serving God becomes essential to your being, and everything else in this world becomes secondary to it.
A parable: a rich man with a respectable and wise son arranges a fitting marriage for him. During the preparations for the wedding ceremony, the rich man tastes some of the food being prepared, and in that moment he remembers the joy for his son, and the taste becomes nearly inconsequential in comparison [to his joy]. Understand this.

This is the very first teaching from the Ishbitzer, and it reads like mission statement for his (our?) entire project – The divine unfolding of creation, God’s entrance into the world and opening act, is likewise expressed in the individual. So too will everything else God does and teaches in the Torah be given to find resonance in the soul of a person and bring her closer to godliness and wholeness.
We have an intellectual (mind) and emotional (heart) self. When we want to serve God, or more explicitly, when we want these two parts to become aligned and unified in the singular goal of service, we need to develop both of them by actually releasing them to God. They are no longer for us or ours.
Every thought you have and action you do will now be God’s (and thus from God). You have to trust that is the case, even the craziest of them, AND ALSO stop at nothing to make all you do holy. You still need to be constantly striving to align your will with what you believe the divine will is. But the beautiful thing is that by no longer living for yourself and only for God, so everything becomes an available avenue for service, not just the commandments. For every thought and deed, you can ask “is this for God?” and ideally we reach a point where the question is no longer necessary and our whole being is a radiant manifestation of the divine will here on earth.


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