Rx Derech Chayim
Belief in G-d / Essays 2019
Do you know before Whom you stand and who awaits you with open arms? Have you not heard? Were you not told from the very beginning?1
No, I was not told from the very beginning that ה׳ runs the world. I was a boor and did not understand.2 I grew up in the suburbs, disconnected from religion and dismissive of religious life. My entire life, I eschewed any semblance of a religious lifestyle since I was unaware of the fundamental truth that yiddishkeit is a reality.3 I was oblivious to the great, mighty and awesome ה׳.4
I am an American physician with a business background. Torah was absent from the Wharton curriculum. ה׳ was never given credit at the Medical College for authoring Gray’s Anatomy. I was disconnected from ה׳. As an American Jew, confused in the exile (galut), many of us baalei teshuva struggle to connect with ה׳ secondary to chronic Torah deficiency, i.e. Torahpenia (ICD code 10.6.2). Raised in this country, lacking sufficient Torah awareness, we struggle to understand yiddishkeit. While we are commanded in the Torah to sanctify ourselves with kedusha (holiness), instead we attach ourselves to an American materialistic life connected to the sitra achara (the side of kelipa that conceals ה׳ through the Internet). The vast majority of American yidden, and I include myself, are unaware of the severity of our spiritual deficiencies. We have become desensitized, like an insensate heel, to the extent of our pathology which is a consequence of assimilation and conformity. This leads to an epic concealment of ה׳. The diagnosis is straightforward and the therapeutic course of action is concise. We need a STAT bolus of kedusha, the sustenance for each and every Jewish soul.
When we seek care, the optimal course of action to resuscitate body soul is a daily infusion of Talmud Torah. Torah is essential in an emergent spiritual resuscitation, as oxygen must diffuse and permeate across a hypoxic cellular membrane to ensure survival. Just as any rationale patient seeks the most experienced physician, we must seek out knowledgeable rabbanim who can teach Torah with great love and reverence for ה׳, individuals who are faithful to the authenticity of ה׳ and His Torah.
The prognosis is excellent! Even when our global nation is dispersed around the world, each individual Jew still has a connection to the Almighty and ה׳ has not forsaken a single one of us. The other nations may negate the facts, but we still remain His chosen and treasured people (am segulah) forever.5
How did a secular Jew like myself (am ha-aratz, tinok shenishbu) come to recognize the truth? ה׳ smashed my heart of stone, years after I submerged in the ritual immersion pool of the Arizal, the legendary kabbalist. I entered the mikveh unaware that the sanctified waters would lead to “teshuva”, a return to ה׳. Subsequently, I explored the written Torah of Chassidut, the sefer Tanya, a deep text of Hasidic philosophy, written for individuals who struggle to serve the Almighty. I discovered a master anthology, a brilliant text of spiritual counseling, interspersed with Kabalah, that reaches into your psyche to strengthen a connection to ה׳. Tanya, authored by the Alter Rebbe, Ba’al haTanya, the founding father of Chabad Chassidut, is a deep and brilliant anthology of Torah derived from Chumash, Talmud, Zohar and the wisdom of the mystics. The sefer led me to reexamine my life as a Jew and to question the meaning of ה׳.
I learned that the unity of ה׳ is beyond anything our mind is capable of comprehending. ה׳ is unfathomable yet real.6 The infinite ה׳ created the finite universe in vast dimensions: the lower world of Asiyah, the Milky Way Galaxy, a giant disk of stars 160,000 light years across and one-thousand light – years thick, plus two trillion galaxies in the observable Universe.7,8 Each star is alive and acknowledges the Creator of the World.9 ה׳ allows us to perceive, through the lens of the Hubble, a cosmic horizon fifty billion light years away and perpetuates cosmic expansion faster than the speed of light through His utterances.10 ה׳ suffuses the world with the mysterious laws of quantum physics in order to conceal Himself. Quantum physicists acknowledge that reality, perceived through the optic nerve, is never quite what it seems. Only five percent of the entirety of excistence is perceptible since atoms make up just a tiny proportion of the Universe. ה׳ creates a world of nested universes where 95% of universal mass consists of imperceptible dark energy and dark matter that neither emits or absorbs radiation of any sort. ה׳ creates it all: you, me, light and darkness, wave particle duality, and quantum entanglement. ה׳ spins a photon around the Earth ten times in one second and stops time as a particle approaches the speed of light.11 ה׳ composed the forces in the Higgs field and the universe that interconnects us along the space/time continuum.12 Most importantly, ה׳ created you. Why? To bestow his goodness upon you, his creation.13
Do you know where to find ה׳? He fills all worlds and encompasses all words.14 The whole world is full of his glory.15 The grandeur of His universe allows ה׳ to hide behind multiple gradations to conceal His Infinite Light.16 Our job is to pierce the secular veil to discover that ה׳ is real.17 Our accumulated scientific knowledge is merely a grain of sand, buried on an island, surrounded by a vast ocean of ignorance. We dwell on this island in a state of bewilderment and bafflement in Plato’s cave. While ה׳ is unknowable, you have an imperative to seek the existence of ה׳ in your life. The key is the recognition that ה׳ is real. ה׳ is your Producer, Director, and Screenwriter. In the beginning, “Roll Camera!”; in the grand finale, “Cut!”
He creates your physical body with the most complex information processing system ever to exist, configured like a small city, governed by the forces of biochemistry, physiology and neurochemistry. You are attached to ה׳18 at every level. ה׳ maintains every mitochondria, electron transport chain and nucleotide. You have not a single TCA cycle, without a spiritual force, compelling it to spin. You are so much more than an agglutination of compounds. Your physical self and your multi dimensional soul is a microcosm of all creation.
Says the Torah, ה׳ created you with a body and a soul. He blew19 into your nostrils the breath of life, from His very essence, that allows you to pursue a meaningful Jewish life.
Anatomy of a Jewish soul
You are so much more than flesh and bones. Indeed, you have a dual nefesh with many dimensions. The nefesh habahamit is your animal soul which arises from the cardiac left ventricle, proximal to the outflow tract of the myocardium. It travels in the blood and gives life to the body.20 Your base desires arise from your nefesh habahamit. This originates in the heart that perfuses the brain, the source of chochma, binah and da’at. Additionally, your nefesh habahamit is the source of your negative character traits which hinder your ability to recognize ה׳.21 Your mission in life is to subjugate this animal soul in order to reveal ה׳ in your life.
The nefesh elokit, the divine soul, is a chelek elokak mimaal, truly a part of ה׳.22,23 Your divine spark arises from the deepest essence of ה׳ and resides among the 100,000,000,000 neurons in the CNS that vagally controls your heart. The nefesh elokit is capable of meditating on the grandeur of ה׳ and circulates from brain to heart (via the SVC in the right atrium) to spark a love and reverence for ה׳. Says the Ba’al haTanya , the founding father of Chabad, your intellect, like a flickering candle, has the powerful ability to ignite your emotions to draw your heart upward to reconnect your soul with ה׳.24 Through the nefesh elokit, your connection to ה׳ may concealed, in exile, but it can never be severed. That is what makes you a holy Jew.
Your two souls struggle with internal conflict and opposing psychological beliefs, desires and feelings. The nefesh elokit desires to be filled with the joy of yiddishkeit, Torah and love of ה׳. The nefesh habehamit comes along to agitate your nefesh habahamit in order to create internal conflicts. You can prevail in the struggle by utilizing the garments of the soul (lavushim), thoughts, speech and action25 to serve ה׳.
You can reveal sparks of ה׳ in this confusing, upside down world by taking on your Jewish obligation to study Torah. Learn Torah in order to perform mitzvot for ה׳ with love and reverence, like a servant following the King’s orders.26 Every mitzvah counts and you should run to perform a mitzvah.27 In these generations, even a small mitzvah is more dear to ה׳ than the greatest mitzvot of the earlier generations.28 When you perform a mitzvah, with proper intention and directed to the service of ה׳, it pleases the King and strengthens your connection.29 The plethora of mitzvot are opportunities to help you refine, elevate and cultivate yourself, ultimately earning the opportunity to draw closer to ה׳, especially when emulating His attributes.30,31 If you fulfill the mitzvot, with love and reverence, your mitzvot will be uplifted to draw you closer to the presence of the Almighty (kirvat elokim).32
Talmud torah kneged kulam.33 Our sages understand that the study and knowledge of Torah is equal to all the commandments of ה׳ together. Learn Torah daily to comprehend what the Almighty expects from us: to love each individual Jew, to love ה׳, and to love the Torah.34 We study Torah because if we do not know what we are supposed to do, how are we do it?35 Just as a physician studies and practices medicine to keep his community healthy, the rabbanim teach us Torah to ensure the survival of our nation.36 Just as a wise patient listens to his physician and fills the prescription, a sagacious Jew listens to the directives of the Rav. We follow the halacha, the marching orders from competent Torah authorities, in order to make our lives the ultimate good they can be.
We learn Torah because we are a nation of vast intelligence connected to the wisdom of ה׳ . We are a “people of the book”, who love to learn and literally dance with our texts. Says the Tanya, when we acquire Torah knowledge, immersed in our learning, we connect with ה׳ himself, and that is the ultimate good. We study Torah in order to surround ourselves with the divine light37 because Torah and ה׳ are one.38,39 We are in the presence of the Almighty while studying Torah, since it contains His divine wisdom and will.40 Torah and His essence are one; the Almighty and his Torah are inseparably unified.
We reach the highest level when we practice yiddishkeit joyfully with all three lavushim: intellectually (machshava), verbally (dibbur), and actualizing the mitzvot in accordance with halacha (maaseh). There are no shortcuts to spirituality. You must study Torah to know ה׳. Once you learn it, speak it out. The words of Torah bring life to those who utter them.41
In Chabad Chassidus, it is not enough to pretend that ה׳ listens to our prayers, but we have to intellectually understand and emotionally thirst for it.42 There actually is an Eye that sees … an Ear that hears.43 Tefilah (prayer) stands at the pinnacle of the world44 so pray with awe, reverence, and enthusiasm! The Divine Presence (gilui shechina) is felt in the communal prayer of Jews who pray with sincerity. The King is glorified45 with a genuine congregation who approaches with rapture and reverence. Additionally, by praying with your community, your requests will be accepted more readily.46 Know that among His acts of love is the opportunity for every Jew to approach Him and call Him by His Name47 and to know that you stand in His presence.48 If you are cognizant that you serve in His presence, you will feel His presence.49 Seek the truth, ה׳ desires and recognizes sincerity of the heart.50
Says the Tanya, you must meditate on the greatness of ה׳ to find the palace and serve the King. Meditate daily on the greatness of ה׳ using your da’at. Da’at is the active, living understanding of the Divine, bound tightly with a knot tethered to the mind, that ties you to ה׳.51 It has been said that da’at is where thoughts end and action begins, serving as a catalyst to intellectually connect to ה׳. This can only come about through Torah study and mitzvot.
How do you live a purposeful, meaningful Jewish life? This is the prescription: believe in ה׳ and recognize His unity, in order to love Him wholeheartedly, fear Him, cling to Him and constantly remember Him. ה׳ is not a fiction. You must utilize the intellect of the nefesh elokit to ignite your emotions in your heart, the dwelling for the palace of the King.52 Yet when the darkness is thick and you cannot reveal ה׳ or your concealed love, this is an illusion called “hester panim” and ahava mesuteret. To escape from the galus hada’as, persevere and seek Him with all your heart and soul. You can find ה׳ since the sparks are everywhere, even in America53.
ה׳ is omnipresent, connected to your consciousness. With humility, dedication and meditation (hitbonenut), you have the ability to connect. If you dig deep and keep the mitzvot, you will reach a level permeated with the knowledge of the Almighty’s constant presence.54 Once you reach this level of attachment to ה׳, enlightenment will demonstrate that Torah is 100% authentic and no fabrication exists in Chassidut.
You can attach this level of awareness, because you are descended from a kingdom of princes, from Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov.55 You inherited their spiritual DNA and belong to “am segulah”, a treasured nation, beloved by ה׳, who chose you to learn Torah.
Said a great Rebbe, when you were born, ה׳ declared that the world was missing something without you in it.56 Have you started to pursue a meaningful Jewish life? A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and the reward is proportional to your effort.57 It is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach; it is not in heaven nor is it beyond the sea.58,59 There are no easy shortcuts: learn.
Start today. No Jew left behind. The shechina (divine presence) rests on Israel when we seek and reveal ה׳ together. You can rebuild a relationship with Him, no matter how far you may have strayed. This Torah remains your inheritance, even if you were separated a lifetime.60 Regardless how far you wandered out of the Kingdom, you can always make your way back.
What is the prescription?
1: Follow the words of the Torah. The study of Torah surpasses all.61
2: Place ה׳ first in thoughts, speech and action always.62
שִׁוִּיתִי יְהוָה לְנֶגְדִּי תָמִיד
It is a halachic imperative and the keynote to all the teachings of Chassidut.
If you start with this, ultimately, you will come to the elegant truth that the sparks of ה׳ are everywhere.
The King of all kings awaits your return. One day, should it be soon, we will awaken from our slumber to recognize the Creator of the Grand Unified Theory. We will all know that the answer to Einstein’s Theory of Everything is ה׳.
Ein ode milvado.63
The House of Israel is leading the next Enlightenment.
ה׳ will be One and his Name will be One.64
Are you in?
Should we collectively see the glory and Oneness of the Almighty and the majestic splendor of his greatness.65
….We’re almost there! It’s going to be amazing!
I have labored and I found.66
1 Yeshayahu 40:28.
2 Tehilim 73:22.
3 Shemot 20:2.
4 Devarim 10:17.
5 Nidchei Yisrael, Perek 1, Chafetz Chayim.
6 Rambam, Mishneh Torah Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Yesodei Hatorah 1:1.
7 Yeshaya 40:26.
8 The Evolution of Galaxy Number Density at Z<8, Conselice, 2016.
9 Rambam, Misneh Torah, HaMadda, Yesodei ha-Torah, Chapter 3.
10 Perlmutter, Schmidt, Riess, 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.
11 Einstein A, Die Grundlage der algameinen, Annalen der Physik, 1916.
12 The Quantum Higgs Field, International Journal of Quantum Information, DeMartini, 2017.
13 Bereishit, 1:27.
14 Ba’al haTanya, Likutei Amarim, Chapter 3.
15 Yeshaya 6:3.
16 Ba’al haTanya, Likutei Amarim, Chapter 21.
17 Rambam, Misneh Torah, HaMadda, Yesodei ha-Torah, Chapter 1.
18 Chovov halevavot, chapter 5, Gate of Reflection.
19 Bereishit, 2:7.
20 Ba’al haTanya, Likutei Amarim, Chapter 9.
21 Ba’al haTanya, Likutei Amarim, Chapter 1.
22 Ba’al haTanya, Likutei Amarim, Chapter 2.
23 Iyov 31:2.
24 Ba’al haTanya, Likutei Amarim, Chapter 19.
25 Ba’al haTanya, Likutei Amarim, Chapter 4.
26 Devarim 28:9.
27 Mishnah, Nezikin, Pirkei Avot 4:2.
28 Arizal to R’Chayim Vitale.
29 Ba’al haTanya, Likutei Amarim, Chapter 23.
30 Makkos 23b, R’ Chananya ben Akashya.
31 R’ Cordovero, Tomer Devorah.
32 Ba’al haTanya, Likutei Amarim, Chapter 16.
33 Mishnah, Zeraim, Peah 1:1.
34 Rambam, Misneh Torah, HaMadda, Yesodei ha-Torah, Chapter 2.
35 Ramchal, Derech ה׳, Talmud Torah.
36 Devarim 17:11.
37 Ba’al haTanya, Likutei Amarim, Chapter 4.
- Rambam, Mishneh Torah Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Yesodei Hatorah, Chapter 3.
39 Ba’al haTanya, Likutei Amarim, Chapter 23.
40 Pele Yoetz, R’ Eliezer Papo.
41 Mishlei 4:22.
42 Shemot 20:2.
43 Mishnah, Nezikin, Pirkei Avot 2:1.
44 Talmud Bavli, Berachot 6b.
45 Mishlei 14:2.
46 Chofetz Chaim, Sefer Nidchei Yisrael.
47 Ramchal, Derech ה׳, Tefilah.
48 Alter Rebbe, Shulchan Aruch Harav.
49 Tehilim 82:1.
50 Talmud Bavli, Sanhedrin 106b.
51 In scientific circles, the other nations believe in orchestrated objective reduction, postulated to be mediated by the microtubular cytoskeleton of the neuron; ref: Orchestrated Objective Reduction of Quantum Coherence in Brain Microtubules: The Orch OR Model for Consciousness, Hameroff and Penrose.
52 Pele Yoetz, R’ Eliezer Papo.
53 Devarim 4:29.
54 Utilizing quantum vibratory microtubules that give rise to your self-consciousness. See Quantum coherence in microtubules, Hameroff, 1994.
55 Shemot 19:6.
56 HaRav R’ YY Jacobson, Chabad Lubavitch.
57 Mishnah, Nezikin, Pirkei Avot 5:23.
58 Devarim 30: 11-14.
59 Ba’al haTanya, Likutei Amarim, Chapter 17.
60 Devarim 33:4.
61 Talmud Yerushalmi, Mishna Peah 1:1.
62 Tehilim 10:8.
63 Devarim 4:35.
64 Zecharia 14:9.
65 Ba’al haTanya, Likutei Amarim, Chapter 44.
66 Talmud Bavli, Megillah 6b.