facing newness

In Likkutei Moharan [hilchot Tefillin, halachah ה (hei)] Rebbe Natan speaks about Rebbe Nachman's story the seven beggars and how the first beggar is the secret of being infinitely old and completely new/young all at once. This, he relates, is the secret of Tefillin.

What struck me most was Rebbe Nachman's statement (which I think he brings down in greater detail in Sichot HaRan) that one should always be new with HaShem.

About Rebbe Nachman himself he describes how he might have at some points just revealed amazing new depths of Torah and the next minute be lost in despair at knowing nothing at all.

This is an amazing challenge to really be new with HaShem at every moment, to acknowledge that this very moment HaShem created you and to bring to Him that which you have to give right now. Because we know that we will never come before HaShem empty handed. (לא יראו פני ריקם)

Wherever we are, whenever we are, we have a way to serve HaShem, to relate to HaShem, He always gives us something. If we really live in the now, in the newness of the moment, then we will feel a longing for HaShem with such intensity that we will search out something to offer to Him that we might enjoy His divine presence with the same intensity that a junky searches for a hit when withdrawal starts to really hurt.

Rav Yitzhak Ginsburg (in his introduction to the kabbalah of the Ariz"l) discusses how David HaMelech (who was destined to die the day he was born, but thanks to 70 years given from Adam HaRishon lived exactly 70 years) internalized the understanding that he was nothing except what HaShem made him and gave him. This is how he connected to the sefirah of Malchut. (לית לה מגרמה כלום)

The Talmud in Yoma actually echoes a similar idea in saying that Shaul's kingdom didn't last because he came from a line that was unflawed, whereas David came from a line of questionable background. This way, the Talmud explains, if he ever got out of control (lhavdil) the people could remind him of hist questionable background. (Ruth & Tamar) David always knew it was HaShem who made him king.

Similarly the Pri Ha'aretz (quoting the Kalisker in the first two Torahs of the sefer) describes how the Tzaddik reaches the level of Mah (מ’ה) wherein he recognizes that he possesses only that which HaShem gives him. (לית ליה מגרמיה כלום)

So as we can see, it's a very high level to aspire to, to be new in the face of HaShem every day. To truly face Him we need to put everything behind us, and seize whatever HaShem has given us today. Sometimes all we have are our past sins, to offer up to HaShem. Saying, this is what I have to give today, please forgive me and accept this Teshuvah, and let me see your countenance today.

Something to think about when donning tefillin.


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