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5 The Problem of Corporeality: Conditions for Devequt We have seen in the preceding chapters that, according to Meshullam Feibush's teachings, the world was created for the purpose of deveqllt. This means that God created the world in order to delight in human souls that would succeed in overcoming the limits of corporeality through discovering the divine presence and cleaving to it in their minds. The fundamental obstacle in the way of deveqllt is pride, an innate condition of life in which a person fails to recognize his dependence on divine power. Although overcoming pride is of fundamental concern for one pursuing devequt, it cannot be achieved until one has first disciplined his natural impulses. Self-mastery is a prerequisite for spiritual development. The idea that one can perform genuine spiritual acts without first confronting his passions is an illusion. There are fools who think they are giving over their souls to God in certain places during prayer. This is completely false. As our sages of blessed memory explained, "the impulses of the righteous are under their power and the wicked are under the power of their impulses ..."1 For a righteous person masters his desire while desire gets the best of a wicked person. [The latter] is subject to his impulses2 and inclines toward whatever he desires.... So how can he give over something that is not under his power? For the soul is not under his power. Concerning this, it is said, "we will raise up our hearts in our hands to God in heaven."3 In other words, when the heart is under our power (masur le-yaddayim ), then [the verse says,] "to God in heaven." Then we will be able to sanctify it and give it over to heaven.4 In the present chapter, we will examine more closely the psychological connection between detachment from physical desires and devequt. As we shall see, the emphasis on detachment not only contributes to the understanding of the state of consciousness which occurs during devequt, but also helps define the nature of true Zaddiqim. Meshullam Feibush's extreme demand for detachment as a precondition for devequt, increases the disparity between the spiritual potential of an ordinary person and the awesome attainments of the religious virtuoso. According to the Hasidic viewpoint, all religious practices and obser- 108 UniteI' of Heaven and Earth vances are means for cleilVing to God. However, these means are only potentially effective. In order to attain deveqllt, it is not sufficient merely to learn Torah and observe the mizvot. Such practices only lead to dCVCqllt when certain preconditions have been met. In reality, cleaving to Cod by means of the Torah and mizvot requires many preconditions. Our generation, including great masters of Torah, has overlooked these conditions which are enumerated in the Mishnah....5 Now the conditions are many, but the least of them is to be detached from temporal desires [such as] eating, drinking, sleeping, and intercourse, and to break the bodily powers, even when such things are necessary, because of one's heart's enthusiasm for Torah and serving Cod for His name's sake in love. The worldly pleasure which comes from that matter will not be important to him (10 yehasheD clav), just as a businessman who is happy because of his profit does not find the least pleasure in eating6 In order to experience devcqllt through the Torah one must first attain a certain level of spiritual development. This development involves a great many attributes, the very least of which is to be so filled by the desire to serve God that one has no interest in the ordinary pleasures of this world. It is not merely a matter of ascetic discipline. The desire to serve God must become so strong that, by comparison, corporeal desires pale into extinction. This is "through excluding desire."7The Mishnah does not say "through a little desire," but "through excluding (bc-mi'ut)." For the importance of reducing desire does not need to be mentioned. But he will limit even what is necessary. That is, he will increase the delight and desire of divine devequt in his heart through the Torah, until [other pleasure] is extinguished like a lamp in the afternoon [sun.] If he does experience a bit of pleasure, then it will be as our sages said, "pleasure that a person experiences against his will. ..."8 This all pertains to what is permissible to eat and drink and necessary for him. The...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781438409658
Related ISBN
9780791438176
MARC Record
OCLC
42855920
Pages
309
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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