20 Tamuz 5779 / Tuesday, July 23, 2019 | Torah Reading: mattot
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Path to a Higher Intellect

How can one enjoy life to the fullest? How can he or she realize their true intellectual potential? It's within our capability to harness the power within us…


Liberating oneself from physical desires allows one to enjoy life to its fullest. One who is free of cravings is not dependant on external substances to induce inner joy and calm. Fewer things have the power to upset him, and he does not feel that he is missing anything. Essentially, a desire is a lack, as one only desires that which one lacks. However, even when that craving is satisfied, he immediately craves more, as our Sages teach, “No person leaves the world with half of his cravings fulfilled,” because he doesn’t even possess half of what he craved. For even if all of his desires were fulfilled, what he lacked would double.


Therefore, one of man’s primary tasks in this world is to liberate himself from craving. Only when a person is free can he begin connecting to real life — spiritual life and a genuine bond with the Creator and all of Creation, in true harmony and without the distraction of constant desire.


In Likutei Moharan (I:37), Rebbe Nachman teaches, “The main reason for Creation is for us to recognize Him, as it’s written, ‘For My honor I created him, I formed him and I made him’” (Isaiah 43:7).


This means that Hashem created the world so that mankind would know Him, but how can one know Hashem? To Know Hashem, man must ascend to a higher intellect.


As Rebbe Nachman further explains, “The body and soul are corresponding aspects of man and animal, matter and form, wisdom and foolishness, light and darkness, life and death, forgetfulness and memory. And they [meaning the different aspects of the soul] are the aspects of the Torah’s wisdom, while the superficial wisdoms correspond to matter, foolishness, and animalistic qualities as opposed to the wisdom of the Torah.”


Through this passage, Rebbe Nachman conveys that man is molded together with two aspects — the soul and body, which can be compared to man and beast respectively. The body is the animal aspect, and the soul is the essence of man. Matter is the body and form is the soul. The body is foolishness, while the soul is wisdom. The body is darkness and the soul is light, etc. In other words man is essentially comprised of two opposing forces — the dark, foolish, physical beast, and the radiant, wise, and spiritual soul.


Rebbe Nachman continues: “And every man must subjugate the raw substance inside, the aspects of death and folly of the body that is based on four elements, as is written in the Zohar (Bereishit 27), ‘And Hashem the Lord took the man.’ From where did he take him? From his four elements, that He separated him from the physical desires of this world. This was accomplished through fasting, as fasting weakens the four elements and nullifies the material [which encompasses] physicality, foolishness, darkness, forgetfulness, and animal, while the aspect of higher intellect and form, light, memory, and man gain strength and ascend.”


Rebbe Nachman is therefore teaching us that a person needs to work hard to subdue the darkness and foolishness that symbolize the cravings of the world, and by doing so, he will automatically strengthen his spiritual nature, causing it to ascend and subdue the beast inside, and overcome the darkness with internal light. Therefore, the fulfillment of Man’s primary tasks in this world depends on nullifying his cravings.


Man’s Advantage over Animal Is Nothing


The definition of a man is based on the question of who is dominant over whom? Does man dominate the beast, or does the beast dominate man? In order to live the true life, man must be the supreme ruler. As Rebbe Nachman told his disciples, “Why can’t animals that walk on two feet be taught to become men and masters of knowledge? Because the only element that distinguishes man from animals is precisely that knowledge — knowledge of Hashem!”


Many people in the world are little more than two-legged animals, lacking true, clear knowledge. In fact, one may be an esteemed professor of chemistry, but actually lack knowledge. One can be a Talmudic professor, and still lack knowledge. One may even learn Torah in a yeshiva his entire life, but if he learns Torah without emuna, then he is empty of knowledge, because he doesn’t live with the emuna in Hashem as the Creator, and he doesn’t have a personal relationship or speak with Hashem.


Rebbe Nachman therefore teaches that each of us must work hard to nullify our base desires, and only then will Hashem free us from those desires and allow us to ascend spiritually and cleave to Hashem, to light and to wisdom, may we all so merit, Amen!

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