10. I believe with perfect emunah
that the Creator, blessed be His Name,
knows all the deeds and thoughts of humanity,
as it is said, "He fashions the hearts of them all,
comprehending all their deeds."
We now return to importance of emunah or 'active faith'. Emunah transcends reason and knowledge and yet maintains a close association with both. There is a big difference between emunah and 'blind faith'. The Thirteen Principles call upon us to maintain emunah in HaShem and the things He reveals. Only a fool believes everything he is told or hears. Therefore our emunah as Jews abides within the firm foundation of Torah. A Jew should say, 'I have emunah in Torah alone, even when I fail to comprehend its revelations'. So, what is Torah?
The foundational story of Judaism is one of leaving slavery in Mizraim (Egypt) and embracing freedom through the revelations we receive at Har Sinai in the Torah. Our reasoning minds ask, 'how can it be that placing 613 laws on our backs leads us to freedom'? Many observant Jews appear to be sorely weighed down by what we even refer to as "the burden of the Torah." How is this freeing?
We need to understand this: "Accepting the yoke of Heaven" or in Hebrew, "kabalat ol malchut shamayim" refers to the legal agreement every Jew, past, present, or future, including all true converts, entered into with G-d at Mount Sinai. This agreement details our way of living in this world. Our obligations under HaTorah are ones that we as a people and individually have accepted. We are either observant of these laws, or we are not. HaShem does not force servitude. These legal codes should not be done out of fear of HaShem nor for the sake of reward. Rather they are to be considered obligatory under the Covenant. As our sages say, we should 'do Torah for the sake of Torah'. We should seek to fulfill our obligations under this agreement because we are obligated to them. With emunah we are certain that HaShem will fulfill His side of the agreement. It is certainly in our best interests to be observant, but the choice is ours.
Why does HaShem obligate us with these laws? HaShem knows humanity! He knows our nature and our propensities to excel in both positive and negative ways and desires to encourage us to attain our greatest potentials, both in this life and even more in the World to Come. Those who embrace derech HaShem, the way of G-d, are wise. They are part of HaShem's 'Perfected Community' (see Ramchal's Derech HaShem II.2.1). Torah and its commandments are our guide to living meaningful and joyous lives both now and in the world to come.
We have discussed that only through Torah is it possible to know G-d as He desires. I have suggested herein that the Torah can be thought of as "the Mind of G-d." Knowledge of Torah produces wisdom. The Highest Wisdom is HaShem, as discussed at Mishlei, or Proverbs, chapter 1. HaShem knows each us personally and through His Torah we are privileged to interact with Him individually and collectively.
Most people understand the word "torah" to mean "law." This is of course correct, however we need to understand this Law properly. The study and observance of the Torah is intended to produce knowledge of the proper way to live. This knowledge enhances emunah and through emunah wisdom is gradually attained. Wisdom with emunah establishes devekut, or attachment to Holy One. True attachment to the Blessed One is true Peace, Love and Light.
Because the Hebrew word תורה (torah) is usually translated into the English as "Law" there is great misunderstanding about what "Torah" really is. When people hear the word "law" they usually think of a judge passing edicts and subsequent punishments to force them into compliance and subjugation. Torah is not like that. Through Torah HaShem grants true freedom, not servitude. Serving our senses, our material and intellectual desires, our greed and diverse appetites does not and can not satisfy us for long. Those who attain true emunah however merit devekut. Attachment with the Holy One satisfies all desires.
The ultimate goal of all knowledge of G-d is to realize that one knows nothing. Yet even this is unattainable. A person may come to realize his own ignorance, but only in a certain area on a particular level. There is still the next level, which he has not even touched. He does not know enough about the next level to begin to realize his ignorance. No matter how high he climbs, there is always the next step. A person therefore knows nothing: he cannot even understand his own ignorance. For there will always be a level of ignorance beyond his present level of perception"
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, Sichot Haran #3
"The more you draw yourself to G-d, the more you must realize how far you are from Him. When a person believes that he has succeeded in achieving closeness to G-d [i.e. devekut] and understanding of Him, it is a sign that he does not know anything at all. If he did, he would understand that he is very far from G-d and knows absolutely nothing, because G-d's greatness is without limits.
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, Likutey Moharan I, 63
תורה ("torah") is derived from the Hebrew root yareh (ירה). Yareh means to 'shoot an arrow in order to hit a chosen mark'. From this root we learn that the noun 'torah' refers to the 'arrow' that is aimed at the mark of perfection, life's bulls eye, if you would. The 'target' is devekut thoroughly knowing and embracing the truth about G-d and how to properly relate to Him. The Torah is therefore, in a literal sense, personal instruction designed to teach each of us how to attach attachment with G-d. Torah means direction, teaching, instruction,or doctrine all designed to bring us individually and collectively to devekut, a meaningful connection or attachment with HaShem.
"Blessed is the person you discipline, HaShem,
the one you teach from your Torah" - Tehillim 94:12
Points to Consider:
- What is emunah?
- Why is emunah so important?
- Does emunah in G-d as an individual Creator matter? Why or why not?
- Why is conceiving of the G-d of Israel as a universal Force spiritually dangerous?
- Does G-d have a individualized plan for my life?
- If so, what is it? In what areas do I excel that I might incorporate into my life?
- Can a person who rejects the Torah have emunah?
- Why does Rebbe Nachman mean by, "The ultimate goal of all knowledge of G-d is to realize that one knows nothing"?
- What are you doing to increase your emunah?
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