“Behold you have sinned against G-d. And you your sin will find you.” ~~ Numbers 32:23
When the Jewish people received the commandments from G-d at Mt. Sinai they understood the difference between freedom from oppression and freedom to expression. When they left Egypt the Jewish people were only freed from Egyptian slavery but only when they accepted the commandments were free to be themselves – individualized manifestations of G-d; serving as channels for the flow of divine presence into the world. A Torah life is all about freedom and self-actualization. It is not about changing who you are but being who you.
Even when you are freed from your disorders or addictions you are still not yet free to be the total you. To be all that you can be you need to know who you really are, who is your eternal root, what is your divine purpose and service on earth.
Living the mitzvas empowers you to connect with G-d and be your true godly self. At first you may feel that obedience to G-d and the disciplinary life of mitzvas is submissive and restrictive. Ironically, however, submission and obedience to G-d becomes a source of empowerment and freedom. Through the mitzvas you can experience G-d as the essential power within you; seeking to become expressed through you. At this point, you no longer experience the commandments as acts of obedience, but rather as the free expression of your true inner divine self as an aspect of G-d.
In other words, after we make G-d’s will our will and obey, we ultimately realize that His will is actually what we, in our deepest of depths, truly wanted all along, because our will is an expression and ray of His will. We, in essence, are individualized manifestations of the Soul of all souls.
The Kabbalah teaches that when we do not live the mitzvas we are as if cutting the ground from beneath our feet, cutting our self out of the bigger picture. Our life becomes one big rip off when we rip ourselves away from G-d. We suffer a self imposed spiritual exile. However, living a life of service is a homecoming and reunion with G-d. We feel plugged into the Source of all life and energized in everyway.
Unfortunately, many people think “serving G-d” is submitting to an egomaniacal deity who dwells in heaven and demands, “You must serve me! Obey my commandments and do them with a smile! Or else I will punish you.” In actuality, to serve G-d means to experience complete connection to the source of all life and channel divine presence into the world. Serving G-d is like the dance serving the dancer, the song serving the singer, the speech serving the speaker.
Fulfilling the commandments – mitzvas – is not about collecting merit points to be cashed in after we die, an understanding like that may have worked for us when we were five years old (how else could our parents and teachers have explained it to us?). However, as adults we need to understand that commandments profoundly transform our life experience –empowering us to feel plugged into the source of all life, awareness, freedom and creativity. Many people resist a lifestyle dedicated to serving G-d only because they don’t understand that G-d is the source of all being, all energy, all values and ideals.
To serve G-d means to embody and channel into the world G-d’s love, wisdom, understanding, kindness, justice, compassion, beauty, truth, peace, etc. When you act mercifully, you are serving to make manifest the source of all mercy. When you act intelligently, you are serving to make manifest the source of all intelligence. And when you serve justice, you are serving to make manifest the source of all justice. You experience the joy of ultimate meaning when you make your life a means to an end greater than yourself. But when you make your life the be all and end all then that is the end of your life.
The mitzvas are not simply ways to earn reward and avoid punishment. Rather, they express our true divine essence – who we really are and who we are part of – in the language of human behavior.
When we behave in disaccord with the mitzvas, we block out G-d’s presence from our world. Conversely, when we behave in a way that expresses G-d, we become a channel for G-d’s presence and fill the world with blessing.
When we betray G-d, we are ultimately betraying ourselves. It is for this reason that when Adam sinned, he and Eve ran and hid behind a bush. As the Torah relates, G-d called out to Adam and said, “Where are you?” The question was rhetorical. What G-d was really saying to Adam and Eve was, “Where are you? You betrayed yourself.”
Our wrong doings are self-betrayals. They not only fail to manifest G-d in the world but they also prevent us from expressing and experiencing who we really are. All wrong-doing is based on being someone we’re not, whether we know it or not. We will not be punished for our sin but by our sins. Nor will we be rewarded for our service but by our service. Being who we are; experiencing our connection to G-d is paradise itself.
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