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Beyond the High

Friday, 3 July, 2020 - 10:57 am

Life is a constant circular experience. 

Our marriages wax and wane. Our relationship with G-d does the same.
Our friendships are sometimes on the brink. Other times, distance shrinks.

In Chassidic thought, this experience is called Ratzui and Shuv. It is the passion vs reality dichotomy. I want to change the world, but I only have 24 hours. I want to be home with my family, but I need a job to pay the bills. I want to grow my business, but we were forced to close for COVID, etc. Ratzui - the going up, Shuv - coming back to reality.

Every mitzvah, every interaction with Judaism, is the high, the passion to connect with Hashem. Many times, it makes us feel good. We end a prayer service or a mitzvah on a high. We feel amazing and then, Shuv, our self-existence and self-awareness, brings us back to reality. We tell ourselves that we are not perfect, and we need to continue to work on our relationship with Hashem. We may think that perhaps the motivation for the mitzvah was selfish. We repeatedly go through this cycle. We are normal! 

This week we read in the Torah about the red heifer that represents the purification process of the one who has been in contact with death. How do they get purified? They do the Red Heifer Experience, the ash and water mix.

The Jew who says to themselves: Judaism has nothing to offer me. A relationship with G-d? Meh! 
The observant Jew that perhaps does mitzvahs regularly, but beyond "doing it", the relationship with G-d is ... Eh! 

How do they get out of their rut? 

They need to experience complete surrender! I do not exist. I leave behind my own experiences, excuses, and history. All I want is to be one with G-d (Ash, I don’t exist) while remaining in this world (water, life).

This is often triggered when one realizes how distant they are.

For most of us, the high and low cycle is fine. However, this week's portion tells us, that it is also good to know that there is a beyond self-experience.

Perhaps we will get there, perhaps we will not. In the meantime, let us all have an amazing July 4th Shabbos :).

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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