Thursday, July 13, 2017

Mysteries of Memory


An excerpt from a letter by Rabbi Gedaliah Kenig, in honor of his yahrtzeit, 23 Tammuz
(Shaarey Tzaddik, Vol. I, Letter 3, sec. 1, pp. 30-31)

Translated by Dovid Sears

The truth is that memory only belongs in the category of "beyond time" and "beyond nature." For the greater the power of memory, the more time diminishes. "Go and see what people say" [Reb Gedaliah invokes a familiar phrase of the Gemara] -- when people are conversing about their memories of events that happened long ago, you will sometimes hear them say, "It seems to me as if this happened today. It is as if I see it before my eyes right now!" Even though the event took place long ago, nevertheless, due to the "sparkling" of his memory, the matter "lights up" for him as if it happened today. For the light of memory obliterates the boundaries of time.  

There are many, many aspects of memory, one higher than the next, until there is an aspect of memory where time is utterly non-existent; for [this profound memory] transcends time. This is openly discussed in Likutey Moharan I, 7 ("Vi-eileh ha-mishpatim -- emunah"), in the formerly deleted portions (hashmatos) related to what is written there: that prayer is spiritually beneficial (mesugal) for one's memory. This is because prayer is an aspect of faith and the miraculous. They are all aspects of Divine Providence and the dimension beyond nature and beyond time.

(This is also discussed in Likutey Halakhos, Laws of Washing the Hands in the Morning 2:6; see there. Study further Likutey Moharan I, 37:2 ["Dirshu Hashem vi-uzo"); and this is clearly understood from Likutey Moharan I, 54 ["Vayehi miketz -- zikaron"]; study well what is written there.)

In a similar vein, the gist of life is an aspect of drawing nearer [to Hashem], attaining unity and nullifying time, as discussed in Likutey Moharan I, 79, in the summary concepts (rashey perakim) that begin, "The voice is the voice of Yaakov." [There, the Rebbe states that] teshuvah (repentance, or return to Hashem) transcends time. And teshuvah is life, as is explained (ibid.) in Lesson 72 ("Chayim nitzchiyim"), s.v. "vi-al yeday zeh na'aseh teshuvah"; see there. For life such as this, which is in the category of "today" and "tomorrow," is not true life -- because one no longer lives in the moment that has passed. Rather, one lives constantly in a different time, and the hour and instant that has passed has "died" and departed.

Therefore, all true life -- which is eternal life, the aspect of "long life" concerning which the Blind Beggar praises himself (see Rebbe Nachman's story, "The Seven Beggars," First Day) -- is only associated with Hashem, Who transcends time (as discussed in Likutey Moharan I, 61) -- and whoever is incorporated into Divinity (as discussed in Lesson 21, "Atika temir u-setim," sec. 11).

This concept is further explained in the comment of the "gaon of our strength," our master, Rabbi Noson, of blessed memory, which begins (ibid.): "Immortality is associated with Hashem alone; for Hashem lives forever. And one who is incorporated into his Source -- that is, within the Blessed One -- lives forever, like Hashem"; see there.

And study in addition Likutey Moharan I, 179, as well as Likutey Moharan II, 4:8 ("Es ha-orvim tzivisi likalkilekha"), which further clarifies [these concepts from] Lesson 21.

***
Reb Gedaliah passed away in 1980 (5740), some 37 years ago. But from his words in this letter, we may understand that now, as during his physical lifetime, he lives the "true life" of the tzaddikim which is untainted by death. May Reb Gedaliah intercede above for all Klal Yisrael and all living creatures in this forgetful realm of "today and tomorrow," and in the merit of the tzaddikim, may we too come to "taste and see that Hashem is good" (Tehillim 34:9), amen. 

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