Planting Seeds of Light

“If you go in My statutes.” (Vayikra 26:3) Our Sages interpret the word “if” as a plea, (Avoda Zara 5a) in the sense of “if only you would go in My statutes.” G-d’s pleading (as it were) with Israel to keep the Torah, in itself aids man and gives him the ability to remain steadfast in his choice of the good. Moreover, “…you go in My statutes” – the soul then becomes a mehaleich, it progresses. (to higher levels of achievement. See Iyar 6.)

With the advent of Mashiach, there will be revealed the superior quality of the traits of simplicity and wholeheartedness found in the avoda of simple folk who daven and recite Tehillim with simple sincerity.

Hayom Yom
Iyar 24, 39th day of the omer
Compiled by the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Translated by Yitschak Meir Kagan

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Matthew 23:37-39 (ESV)

Given the state of the world today and particularly the state of the church, it’s not hard to imagine that God is pleading to us to return to Him, to turn our hearts back to the will and love of God. I’m not really writing this to condemn the church, nor am I absolving myself of any poor performance in the service of God. However, I am aware that there is great benefit is continually looking into the mirror and assessing the person we see to determine if we have fulfilled the commandments of our Master as a disciple should. Have we earned the Master’s praise when he says, Well done, good and faithful servant,” or do we deserve something else?

The passage I quoted from Matthew 23 is sometimes used by Christians to level specific criticism toward Jews (while conversely praising the church), but I think it can be applied to all of us. A few days ago in my “mediation” Burning the Plow, I pointed out a few things:

The transactions between Jesus and those he called to be his disciples seem to be functionally similar to the interaction between Elijah and Elisha. Jesus, the “ultimate covenental man” encounters various “material men” in the process of performing their usual routines and commands them to follow him. Those who hesitate or who desire to fulfill their material obligations first, he says are unfit for the Kingdom of God.

The level of commitment called for both by Elijah and by Jesus seems abrupt and absolute and anything less is considered a failure in terms of entering the Kingdom of God.

There are times in our lives when we pursue righteousness with extraordinary zeal and strive to fulfill the desires of God with all due diligence and even excellence. Those are the times when, like a long-distance runner who is approaching the finish line, we drive ourselves to perform one final sprint in order to reach our goal and perhaps pull away from a slightly slower competitor in the race.

There are other times, most times probably, when like that same long-distance runner, we allow fatigue to dictate our response to God and we merely plod along, laying one foot ahead of the other, managing to continue to move forward, but only as a matter of course. All we’re thinking about it making it through the next step, the next turn, the next day, and longing for a final rest. We aren’t really present with God or truly observing the steps of our Master, trying to imitate not only where he has placed his feet but what he was doing as he walked in holiness.

The beginning of one’s decline, G-d save us, is the lack of avoda in davening. Everything becomes dry and cold. Even a mitzva performed by habit (Compare Yeshayahu 29:13) becomes burdensome. Everything is rushed. One loses the sense of pleasure in Torah-study. The atmosphere itself become crass. Needless to say, one is totally incapable of influencing others.

Hayom Yom
Iyar 23, 38th day of the omer
Compiled by the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Translated by Yitschak Meir Kagan

Dry spots in our journey of faith are probably inevitable given that we are frail and fallible human beings, but when we become aware of them, we don’t have to stay there. Sure, it’s more tolerable and maybe even more comfortable than the alternative, but it’s not desirable. When we hear God pleading to us and listen to the lament of our Master over us, we can reply with something else besides, “I’m tired” or “I’m doing the best that I can.” Perhaps what we need to do is to stop for a moment, catch our breath, and to see if we’re on the right path at all. Realize that we all get to a place in our faith when we force our effort after we’ve forgotten its purpose. We need to let ourselves be reminded of who God is and who we are in Him, and then let ourselves be refreshed by Him.

Just as a tiny seed awakens the infinite power of life hidden within the earth, so an act of caring and giving buried quietly in the ground can ignite an explosion of infinite light. Charged with that power, all the world is changed.

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“Seeding Change”
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe
Rabbi M. M. Schneerson

We are the tiny seeds our Master planted, watered, and nurtured with his life and his spirit. When will we ignite in an explosion of infinite light and change the world?

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