performance enhancers

Nothing connects to everything else in the world like anything under discussion in Likkutei Halachoth.

Case in point: Tzitzith. It's hard to find a subject Reb Natan hasn't brought up in the discussion of the deeper dimensions of Tzitzith. Here's a few of my personal favorites:

Tzitzith connect you to the heart of the Torah. There are 32 strings, which is gematria for לב, heart. The Torah begins, as we know, with the letter ב and ends with the letter ל, so simply by putting on Tzitzith, one is connecting to the entirety of the Torah. (more about 32-heart [1] [2])

Rebbe Natan says that Tzitzith is all about purification of one's imagination--taking control of it to use it for holy purposes, rather than letting it control you and your thoughts. One's actions (especially one's mitzwoth) are referred to as one's clothes and these clothes, when our actions are imperfect are said to be filthy. Tzitzith are utterly white, hinting to their purification of one's clothes, one's mitzwoth, one's actions through the purification of one's imagination.

Similarly, by purifying one's imagination, one can connect to the aspect of Tzitzith that encompasses all places, being that it has four corners, like the four corners of the world, when one returns to this place, one can truly judge everyone justly, for he has found the true place of each of them. (Since he has returned to HaShem, who is called "the place of the world, whom the world is not His place." He can then see the place of each person in the world, and judge them. Just as Chazal say, do not judge your fellow until you arrive at his place.) This judging with mercy is the rope of Hesed (חוט של חסד) that one otherwise may bring down through learning in the evening. (Another means of purifying one's imagination)

The Tzitzith, as the rope of Hesed, become the strings of David's harp that begins to play at midnight, because once one's imagination is purified, God's hidden spirit, רוח צפון, is revealed. (iirc) This connects Tzitzith to music, a connection that is made through wine as well, because the essence of the song of the Leviim in the Temple was when the wine libation was poured. Wine, as we mentioned in a previous post, is of the nature that when your imagination has already been purified, it releases all of the fallen sparks from the dark (aka other) side. So, when we clarify the imagination, we release song, the song of David's harp at midnight, the song of the coming Redemption, which is the source of all songs, and all happiness.

Needless to say, Tzitzith also connects to Yetziath Mizrayim. The imagination-connection once again לא תתורו אחרי לבבכם ואחרי עיניכם - don't stray after your hearts (see Kriath Shema)

[I'm beginning to think that perhaps Likkutei Halachoth can't be paraphrased]

What is the best part about all this? When I put on tzitzith, I'm no longer just putting on tzitzith. You can't do the mitzwoth like an automaton when you start to learn about the mitzwoth. The biggest set back to doing the mitzwoth with real intention (כוונה) is not the energy it takes, but our lack of learning. (This is more or less one of the Ramhal's messages in Mesilath Yesharim זריזות & זהירות)

Learning the Beit Yosef (R' Yosef Karo's in-depth derivation of all the halachoth in his Shulchan Aruch) can do the same thing. So can learning the text of the Torah itself, the Talmud, or whatever you connect to, whatever is most thrilling to you to learn. The best part is, the learning itself is great, and your mitzwah performance improves because of it. (Shimon at a Jewish Blog points out that enhancement of your mitzwah performance indicates that you are on a good path. This is also something I saw in the Noam Elimelech (מקץ) yesterday.)

For me, Likkutei Halachoth really brings the mitzwoth to life. [When I wash my hands in the morning now, I'm revealing God's light in the world and driving the dark side out of it.] For people with a more Chabad leaning there is the Derech Mitzwothecha of the Tzemach Tzedek. (I learned his chapter on Tefillin while debating taking on Rabbeinu Tam tefillin and it was tremendously exciting)


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