Our teacher the Baal Shem Tov said: Every single thing one sees or hears is an instruction for his conduct in the service of G-d. This is the idea of avoda, service, to comprehend and discern in all things a way in which to serve G-d.
-Compiled by the Lubavitcher Rebbe;
Translation by Yitschak Meir Kagan
If only we could keep this in mind throughout our days and nights, in the midst of our conversations, and particularly when we “talk” to each other on the Web. But it seems that each disagreement, each challenge, is an excuse to forget about how all experiences are instructions for how to serve God, even as we believe we are serving God.
I suppose I could cite the Baltimore riots since it’s all over the news and social media just now, but a sense of powerlessness, fear, rage, and violence is what has fueled this latest conflagration.
And that has little or nothing to do with us as a community and how we are to serve God.
I know that we people of faith are also just people and we often use that as an excuse for our own outbursts (though thankfully, they’re not on the same order or scale as the aforementioned-rioting). Still, when we argue and particularly, when we go out of our way to tear down a fellow disciple, then we have borne witness to how far the ekklesia of Messiah has fallen in an already fallen world.
I don’t hold myself as some sterling example. I have failed God and my comrades in the Messiah’s “body” in many ways. I simply am astonished that, on the one hand, we have such wonderful words and sentiments to use as examples, such as the quote I begin this blog post with, and on the other hand, who we are and how we actually behave as flesh and blood people attempting, however poorly, to live the life we were born to live.
Show a mighty emperor the world and ask him where he most desires to conquer. He will spin the globe to the furthest peninsula of the most far-flung land, stab his finger upon it and declare, “This! When I have this, then I shall have greatness!”
So too, the Infinite Light. In those places most finite, where the light of day barely trickles in, there is found His greatest glory.
-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
As little pieces of the Divine Light, we are to conquer the world by shining our light into every corner of it, replacing darkness with illumination.
But how are we supposed to do that when we can’t even conquer the yetzer hara within ourselves?