How to Awaken from Spiritual Slumber
One of the main things which the Rebbe advises us is to find the good points within ourselves. Isn’t there a concern that there is a possibility that consequently a person might stop advancing in his Avodas Hashem? Don’t we always have to motivate ourselves and strive to move forward in Avodas Hashem?
People are under the impression that the way to wake oneself up from spiritual slumber and sleeping through life is through finding deficiencies in Avodas Hashem within oneself.
However, the Rebbe reveals regarding thoughts of inspiration and motivation to serve Hashem properly which pass through a person’s mind, that if it’s a thought which concentrates on how far he is and his shortcomings, not only won’t it be helpful, but also the thought itself will strengthen his spiritual sleep. Reb Nosson writes, “When a person sees that he’s far from Hashem this is an aspect of sleep.” (Likutei Halachos Hashkamas HaBoker 1:2)
We thus see that if we’re talking about waking up in Avodas Hashem, we must be careful not to think about the bad. Thinking about how distant one is from Hashem is in itself sleeping.
This is not just another nice idea meant to encourage people and to keep them from giving up when they see how far they are. This is the way to wake up from our sleep. The whole purpose of Avodas Hashem is to connect to Hashem and to be close to Him. It’s therefore self-understood that the way to wake up to Avodas Hashem after a fall is by searching and finding in oneself a good point, not in order to prevent oneself from giving up, but rather because in this way he will be able to truly restore his bond with Hashem after the fall. Every Mitzvah makes a sort of rope which attaches a person to Hashem, a rope which is impossible to ever sever and take apart. ‘Mitzvah’ is from the same root as ‘Tzavta’, a connection. Every Mitzvah and good deed that a person does is a G-dly light which dwells on him.
Not only that, but on Hashem’s side the whole renewal of the connection and forgiving of sin is brought about by a person’s search to believe in his good point. Every sin makes the Shechinah depart a little bit. A person therefore has to rebuild his Mishkan, his place for the Shechinah, by intensifying his thoughts to focus on the fact that he is tightly connected to Hashem through the Mitzvah which he has done.
Even though Hashem knows a person’s good, still, a person has to wake himself up to think about the Shechinah, the dwelling of the Divine Presence through the Mitzvos, and to take strength and encouragement from it. This is really how a person arouses Hashem’s Compassion to only focus on our good and to forgive our sins (Likutei Halachos ibid). This is the power which a Jewish thought, thinking about the Shechinah, has. It’s not just an encouraging idea.
This is also the way to conduct Hisbodedus and to speak out one’s heart before Hashem. We must first find those points which tie us with the Creator, and from there to start pouring out our hearts before Him that we haven’t yet merited to more. (Likutei Moharan I 54)
If so, it is understood what when a person will be strong with the good which he has within himself because of the G-dliness inside him, and he will awaken himself to recognize his connection which already exists with Hashem, there is no concern that he might fall asleep on his job.
Isn’t it pride for a person to think about the good which he did?
On the contrary, this is the utmost humility. As we have explained, this is not in the same lines as those who are involved with pop-psychology who try picking people up and making them happy by helping them find “unique successes” or specific “uniqueness’s” .
“Nekudos Tovos” means to connect with the “simple” Yiddishkeit which everyone has, like Kashrus, Shabbos, Prayer, Tzitzis and Tefillin, etc., and to believe in their greatness in Hashem’s eyes. We aren’t ignoring our sins. We are waking up our acknowledgment and our thoughts regarding the ropes and strings which tie us to Hashem despite the darkness and evil which envelop us. In so doing we renew our connection to Hashem.
There is no more wonderful connection to Hashem. When a person realizes how far he is and sees his lowliness, and strengthens himself to see how despite all of this he is close to Hashem because of some Mitzvah which he once did, this is true humility which brings one closer to Hashem (see Likutei Halachos Reishis HaGez 4). This is not a false humility which makes someone lazy when he decides that he is not worth anything anyway and what difference would it make if he would run into Avodas Hashem.
In addition, since ‘Nekudos Tovos’ means to search for Hashem’s light which is resting upon him because of the good within him, if so, we have to look for the good points in all of Klal Yisroel and to see how Hashem’s light rests upon them through the good deeds which every Jew has.
When we enter a shul, we can look around and start bringing the Shechinah to rest upon the people there, by thinking about each one individually what good point he has, and to think about how Hashem is with him. At the same time, he can include himself with everyone else, as he realizes that he also has some Mitzvah through which Hashem has rested His light on him.
This is wonderful advice how to find encouragement together with real humility.
When a person is sunk into feelings of distance from Hashem and sadness, it’s very hard to find joy with the good which he has. But if he will go out of himself a little and will begin to think about Hashem’s Shechinah dwelling by other people, he can then bring himself in together with them.
It may be for this reason that the Rebbe began the Torah of “Nekudos Tovos”, known as “Azamra” (Likutei Moharan I 282) with seeing merit by others, before looking for merit by oneself. If a person will conduct himself in such a way, he certainly won’t be able to fall into pride, because everyone else is also as good as he is …
Don’t wonder whether your thoughts about other people make a difference. In truth, through every such thought of finding a “Nekudah Tovah”, whether about another Jew or about oneself, a person brings the Shechinah into this world, awakens Hashem’s great mercy and compassion, and builds a dwelling for Hashem in this lower world.
The thoughts of a Jew have great potency. He must therefore be strong to bring the Shechinah everywhere he goes by accustoming himself to find some good in everyone he sees and to think about it until he will strengthen his Emunah that “Hashem is here and I am walking through the Mishkan of Hashem”.
Thus we can achieve the first paragraph of Shulchan Aruch- the paragraph which most people have given up on – “’I place Hashem before me constantly’ is a great principle in Torah, that a person should place before his eyes…”. This paragraph is relevant for everyone on whatever level he is on, by thinking about the kindness of Hashem and to see how Hashem dwells upon him in merit of his good and the good of others. (Likutei Halachos Hashkamas HaBoker 1)