Beyond the Thought to Instinct

F. Chedva Shagalov, Brooklyn, NY
Essays 2018

In today’s day and age, we are taught that everything is about understanding. Therefore, if we don’t understand something to be right – we shouldn’t do it. We are taught that our mind needs to control our heart (מוח שליט על הלב” (תניא”. Yet if such is the case, what do we do at the times when we don’t have the luxury of thought, and the time to really think something through?

We have come to a point in time where people simply don’t find it important to take the time to think stuff over in the moment. Everything needs to be quick and fast; it’s all about immediate gratification. People find themselves in situations where they want immediate solutions, without having to think things through. We need to find a way to be able to have an appropriate reaction – immediately. A way to instinctively know just what to do, and to be able to trust our instincts; to have justice impulse.

In ‘תניא, פרק ג we have learned that there are three sefierot of the mind (חכמה, בינה, ודעת). They are like parents to the last seven sefierot of the heart (חסד, גבורה, תפארת, נצח, הוד, יסוד, ומלכות). At first the sefierot of the mind works to understand the “what’s” and “why’s” of the תורה; then it gives it over for the heart to feel it and act there on it. In this way, the mind is guiding the heart.

The sefierot of the mind teach the sefierot of the heart through the intellectual emotions of love and awe (שער היחוד והאמונה). Love is the emotion used to bring about want in the positive commandments. Awe is the emotion that guides the heart to avoid the negative commandments.

(פרק ד) Through both love and awe combined, we create a connection to the seven sefierot of emotions. The positive aspects of the seven sefierot of emotions connect to the intellectual emotion of love; enabling us to become closer in our relationship to the higher power (Hashem). The negative aspects find themselves avoiding acting out, due to their respect and the aspect of awe which is also derived from the intellectual emotions.

We learn in שער היחוד והאמונה that we need to use these concepts of love and awe, the intellectual emotions, when teaching our children. We need to teach our children in a way that is personalized to them. By teaching children in a personalized fashion, the concepts will be ingrained in them internally; causing it to have an everlasting impact.

Every person has within them a small child that is sincere, that wants to grow up and be closer to the higher power (Hashem). This small sincerity everyone has in them is referred to as the “אהבה מסותרת” the hidden love, which comes with the G-dly soul’s yearning to connect to its source (like the attracting sides of a magnet). In every jew is a concealed spark of love that is pure and divine (a natural love inherited from our ancestors).

To have the justice impulse, we need to awaken/reveal our “אהבה מסותרת” hidden love. To awaken this instinct, our G-dly soul needs to, by means of the rational soul, convince the animal soul to work with it in a G-dly manner. The G-dly soul uses the means of the rational soul which is the intellect of the body to become closer to the animal soul (שער היחוד והאמונה).

When we have reached the point that the animal soul has been convinced through the rational soul on any level, we have gotten to a point where the justice impulse is set in place, and our soul with the hidden love will now be able to shine through in everything that we do. This means that we have accomplished our goal.

However, finishing one goal does not mean our mission is fulfilled. Rather, it means that we are one step closer to the fulfilling of our true mission. With each small victory the G-dly soul rejoices, and we feel inspired to work on our next task. We need to work on ourselves and our mission in small steps, one thing at a time, to be able to complete our goal in its entirety..

There is a story that has been told about the Alter Rebbe’s chossid Reb Moshe Meisels, who served as a translator for the French in the times of Napoleon whilst secretly being a spy for the Russians. This chossid portrayed how “מוח שליט על הלב” needs to be used as an instinct. One day he was sitting in the French war room when Napoleon rushed in and put his hand over Reb Moshe’s heart and accused Reb Moshe of being a spy. Reb Moshe was able to remain calm, keeping his heart from racing, because he used the teaching of the Alter Rebbe that the mind needs to control the heart on impulse.

We need to try and follow in the way of the chossid Reb Moshe so we can be able to have our justice impulse, and allow our mind to rule of our heart. We need to learn while we have the time, so that when we do not – we will instinctively know what to do. When learning, we need to make sure we understand it thoroughly, so that we know how to apply it because “תורה לא בשמים היא” torah is not in heaven, rather it is in our world and meant for our world to be used in practicality. When teaching this concept, we must make sure that it is taught in a practical fashion so that it can be used for our world in physical through the rational soul, with the animal soul hand in hand.

Knowing that the children are the guarantee for the torah to be kept, it is the mission of the adults to ensure that each child can be that guarantor (מדרש רבה, שיר השירים). The children can be the guarantee as long as there are children and it will be passed from child to their child once the older one grows up. We need to teach children to appreciate G-dliness as they should be taught to appreciate their own life being that G-dliness is what gives them their life and without that there would simply be nothing.

G-dliness is the source of all life and children need to be able to learn the appreciation of all life.

They then will be able to know how by not doing wrong they are doing what is right and affecting everything for the better from working on themselves. Children are truly the most important to be careful with like a tender tree just starting to bloom.