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Thought for the Day: A Tzadik Pictures Who He Should Be

I would like to try an experiment.  It will only work if you are sitting in front of a computer reading email.  You are? Great!  Here it is: picture yourself sitting in front of a computer reading email.  The Spock (Mr., not Dr.) part of your brain is lifting its cerebral eye brow.  You don't have to picture yourself doing what you are doing; you are doing it!  Even more: you can't picture yourself doing what you are doing.  The "doing" itself is too palpable and "in your face".  You only need to picture things that you aren't doing... or can't do.

The fourth Mishna Brura (yes, siman aleph, siyef koton daled) defines what makes a person a tzadik.  A tzadik, paskens the Mishna Brura, is someone who pictures himself as if he is constantly in the presence of the King, the King of kings, whose glory fills the entire universe.  Wait... "pictures himself as if"?  Isn't a tzadik someone who actually feels HaShem's presence all the time?  Apparently not.

A tzadik is not someone who feels HaShem's presence constantly.  A tzadik is simply someone who pictures himself in that situation and strives to live up to that picture.  That is already a lot of work.  The M'silas  Y'sharim spends the first half of the sefer discussing z'hirus (carefulness), z'ri'zus (enthusiasm/alacrity), and n'ki'yus (cleanliness/purity of intention) to get us to the level of a tzadik.  The rest of the levels -- seven more, ending in k'dusha (holiness) takes only the last half of the sefer.  The m'silas y'sharim starts the fourth chapter (p'rishus/separation) with the challenging statement that up to this point (z'hirus, z'rizus, and n'kiyus) is what is expected of all Jews -- to be a tzadik.

So if we are each expected to become a tzadik, why don't we get to feel HaShem's presence?  Are inability to experience HaShem's presence directly seems to prevent even greater growth in this world as preparation for our real life in the coming world?

Let's try another experiment.  Picture looking at the earth from the moon.  Now picture looking at Saturn's rings while standing on the surface of the Saturn.  Now picture yourself looking at the moon 100 years ago.  Now picture yourself in the Bais Hamikdash on Pesach.  Did it take longer to move to Saturn than to the moon?  How about to go back 2000 years than only 100 years?  I know, your Spock brow is twitching... but bear with me, please.

Anything that can be felt is perforce limited, while anything that "only" pictured is limited only by your imagination.  By removing from us the direct experience of spirituality in this world, HaShem has given us the ability to experience the infinite even in this finite world.

Not a bad trade, in my book.


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