Wednesday, October 21, 2015

“Lekh Lekha … Go to Yourself!”

Excerpt from Likutey Halakhos, Hil. Geneivah 5:7-8
Translated by Dovid Sears (unedited)

The verse states, “Go to yourself” (Genesis 12:1)—“yourself,” specifically. All your goings and travels [ultimately] should be unto yourself alone; that is, to the essential point of truth, which is your inner core and being. 

For the “real you” is the holy soul within; this is what constitutes the “whole man,” as is written in various holy books and cited [by Rebbe Nachman] in Likutey Moharan I, 22. When the term “I” is used, it denotes the essence of the soul, because the body is called b’sar ha-adam, a person’s flesh, whereas the soul is a “portion of Divinity Above” (Shefa Tal, beginning; Likutey Moharan I, 260; et al.). This is particularly so of the souls of Israel, who originate with Avraham, and about whom it states that they are “entirely true seed” (Jeremiah 2:21).

Thus, “lekh lekha” means to go to your essence: to the essential truth within, which is rooted in your very being. Only this is called “I” when a person refers to himself, and only this is meant by “you” or “yourself” when one speaks with another. All of your goings, physically and spiritually, should lead to yourself, i.e., to the point of truth that lies within. And you must pay no heed to the blandishments of falsehood that darken the faces of creatures, so that it is extremely hard to stand up to them unless one takes pity on himself by constantly seeking the truth and not fooling himself.

The verse continues: “Go to yourself [more literally, ‘betake yourself’], from your land, from your birth place, and from your father’s house…” Because all sorts of darkness and lies come from “your land”; that is, from the city and country where you were raised. For as is known, the klippah (shell or husk) precedes the [development of] the fruit. And in every land and locale, even though much good may be found there, there is nevertheless much darkness that occludes the truth. In every land the masses of people pursue material desires—wealth and honor in particular—as if this way of life had been commanded at Sinai, heaven forbid. You must distance yourself from this [environment], leave “your land” and go to yourself, which is the point of truth within yourself. If you fix your gaze upon the truth, you will understand well that [the pursuit of such desires] is not the way to reach the ultimate goal, the World to Come.

Likewise, “your birth place”—you must leave the evil and darkness within that is associated with your birth, as the verse states, “Behold, I was born in sin…” (Psalms 51:5) and “They and their fathers…” (Genesis 42:35, as interpreted homiletically in Likutey Moharan I, 10, sec. 4).

“And from your father’s house”—this is one’s family. For there is all sorts of nonsense and falsehood that clings to a person from the side of his family, [for example, the delusions of those] who take themselves to be of prestigious lineage, as if all of the honor in the world were due them, and other such foolish ideas and confusions. Concerning them all, G-d commanded that one go forth from them “to yourself,” specifically—to the inner point of truth.

Then one will arrive at “the land I shall show you”—which is the Land of Israel—“and I will make you into a great nation.” This is what is meant by the “G-d of Avraham,” who personifies the perfection of prayer and faith, [and of whom the verse states,] “And through him shall be blessed all nations of the earth” (Genesis 18:18). [Prayer and faith] are an aspect of the miraculous. And all of this is attained through truth.

This cannot be fully explained in writing; however, everyone who desires the truth will understand. For it already has been explained in [Rebbe Nachman’s] words that the obstacles created by other people can be worse than those of the Evil Inclination, as stated in his holy talks; see there. It is bad enough that there are obstructers who are evil-doers or people of little worth or scoffers, who stand in the way of truth with their words. But even G-d-fearing people sometimes are able to confuse a person with their advice, that what he is doing is not good or appropriate for him. There are many ramifications of this, beyond count. Therefore, one who desires in truth must be careful to direct himself to the essential point of truth within himself, according to his true needs. This is the meaning of “go to yourself,” specifically.

This is reflected in [Rebbe Nachman’s] story, “The Simpleton and the Sophisticate,” when the Simpleton says, “This is his work, and this is my work,” [rather than compare his shoes, despite their imperfections, to the those of another craftsman. He is inner-directed, and not competing with others, or dependent on their approval]. Therefore, one must pray and speak to G-d at length, with words of truth, until one merits to draw nigh to the absolute truth constantly, and thus attain all of the above.    

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