Mussar – Knowledge of G-d 4

Da’at HaShem – Knowledge of G-d

 

And he took the Book of the Covenant and read it within the hearing of the people, and they said, All that the L-rd Spoke we will do and we will hear. Shemot (Exodus) 24.7

 

Amid complaints, sins, backslidings and rebellions, this statement stands out in sharp contrast to the Jewish people’s previous and future words and deeds.  What unites Jews is action not reflection.  We may do the DEEDS differently because we understand them differently but we are ONE people.

 

However, the essence of knowledge is not the knowing alone, that people should know the greatness of G‑d from authors and books; but the essential thing is to immerse one’s mind deeply into the greatness of G‑d and fix one’s thought on G‑d with all the strength and vigor of the heart and mind, until his thought shall be bound to G‑d with a strong and mighty bond, as it is bound to a material thing that he sees with his physical eyes and concentrates his thought on it. For it is known that da’at connotes union, as in the phrase And Adam yadaa (da’at knew) Eve

This capacity and this quality of attaching one’s da’at knowledge to G‑d is present in every soul of the House of Israel by virtue of its nurture from the soul of our teacher Moses, peace unto him.   Tanya Chapter 42

 

Kabbalah means to receive.  Kabbalah is intended to prepare us to receive Knowledge of G-d.  This knowledge of G-d provides the most profound source of pleasure.  We have to make room for this knowledge.  We must be open to new concepts and ideas.  On Mount Sinai the Jewish people told Moses that They would DO and then understand.  Even if we do a little study, prayer and observance this will begin to open doors of knowledge and understanding.

 

The words of G-d are justified, as I will show, by the fact that Job abandoned his first very erroneous opinion, and himself proved that he had erred. It is the opinion which suggests itself as plausible at first thought, especially in the minds of those who meet with mishaps, well knowing that they have not merited them through sins. This is admitted by all, and therefore this opinion was assigned to Job. But he is represented to hold this view only so long as he was without wisdom, and knew G-d only by tradition, in the same manner as religious people generally know Him. As soon as he had acquired a true knowledge of G-d, he confessed that there is undoubtedly true happiness in the knowledge of G-d; it is attained by all who acquire that knowledge, and no earthly trouble can disturb it. So long as Job’s knowledge of G-d was based on tradition and communication, and not on research, he believed that such imaginary good as is possessed in health, riches, and children, was the utmost that men can attain; this was the reason why he was in unable to understand something so complicated and why he uttered his previous opinions, and this is also the meaning of his words: I had heard of You with my ears; but now, I see You with my eyes. Therefore, I recant and relent, being dust and ashes. Moses Maimonides, The Guide for the Perplexed. DOVER page 300

 

I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye has seen you.  This is from Iyov (Job) chapter 42.

 

Job is simply saying that this experience of G-d was real and personal. The previous knowledge of G-d that he had had was only what he had been told – hearsay evidence.  This experience was real.  He now had true knowledge of HaShem G-d.

 

The book of Vayikra (Leviticus) means and He Called calling out to teach us. The point of a sacrifice  is not what you give up of yourself but what you give to another. So the point of Kabbalah is for us to learn to receive from G-d.  He Desires to Give to us.  We need to be open to receiving.  We need to know fully and completely that All that the Holy One Does, He Does for good.  Rabbi Akiva taught this and lived it.

 

After the sin of the golden calf in the book of Shemot (Exodus) G-d taught Moses the secret of Teshuvah (repentance).  In order to make a connection with G-d one must effect atonement for their sins, they must do Teshuvah and thereby increase their knowledge and closeness to G-d.

 

So how does one discover it they really know G-d or just know of Him?  The Sefirot can bring some light to this.

 

In the Sefirot there are three columns.  The right, the left and the middle.

 

There are also three parts to the acquisition of Da’at, knowledge.

 

Erudition – gathering information

Understanding – this information blends together in one’s mind and forms an integrated whole.  Then one can expand and apply it.

Awareness – when one absorbs what he knows so that it becomes clear to him, so clear as if he had physically seen it.

 

Da’at is used to build one’s spiritual house.  To obtain victory over the yetzer rah so that your soul can be filled with awe and love for HaShem, so that you CAN KNOW Him.

 

With da’at, knowledge and perception, the innermost chambers of one’s heart are filled with all precious riches. Mishlei (Proverbs) 24.4

 

Da’at is referred to as the key that opens all of the chambers of the heart, the six emotive powers from chesed to yesod.

 

Chesed          – Kindness; Love; Giving

Chesed is lovingkindness, benevolence—anything that’s included within the family of love, and the warmth and nurturing that comes with love. It’s a feeling in our hearts. It’s our first and most fundamental emotion.

 

Gevurah        – Strength; Restraint; Discipline; Judgment

Gevurah is the alter-ego to chesed, to love, and that is justice, discipline, restraint, awe. If chesed, love is giving and flowing, there’s another emotion which is withdrawing, focusing, disciplining, channeling.

 

Tiferet             – Beauty; Harmony; Empathy; Mercy

Tiferet is translated as beauty, harmony and compassion. It’s somewhat of a synthesis of the first two, but it’s beyond that.  Tiferet has its own power, the power of compassion that goes far beyond chesed. You can have chesed, love for those who are close to you, those whom you appreciate. Compassion is for strangers and people who may not deserve it, mercy, or in Hebrew and Yiddish, rachmanut.

 

Netzach         – Victory; Ambition; Fortitude

Netzach literally means victory, but the emotion involved is endurance, fortitude, ambition. Netzach is the driving force behind every ambition.

 

Hod                 – Splendor; Devotion; Humility

Hod translates into humility, splendor;  the emotion of humility, yielding. If the alter-ego of Gevurah is Chesed, where Chesed is a flowing love and Gevurah is the channeling, the measuring of it, then if Netzach is ambition and drive and fortitude, Hod is humility and yielding that balances the ambitions within us.

 

Yesod             – Foundation; Bonding

Yesod literally means foundation but it’s an emotion called bonding. When you bond with something it’s not just that you’re experiencing it, you actually bond with it.

 

 

Acquiring these middot will place us on the path to true knowledge of G-d.  As we refine our character we eliminate obstacles to acquiring the true knowledge of G-d.

 

And you, my son Solomon, know the G-d of your father and worship Him with a whole heart and with an eager soul, for the L-rd Seeks all hearts, and He Understands the thoughts of every creation; if you seek Him, He Will be found to you, and if you forsake Him, He Will abandon you forever.   Divrei Haymamin 1 (1 Chronicles) 28.9

 

Yehi Ohr

Let there be light.  Bereisheit (Genesis) 1.3.

 

With two words darkness was turned into light.

 

Our darkness, troubles and trials can seem so overwhelming that we don’t perceive any solution.  Yet with two words, darkness was transformed into light.

 

May HaShem Transform our darkness into light and grant us true knowledge of Him

Blessings and Peace

Rebbetzin Revi Belk