Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Chapter 72

# 20) "When one needs to open an oven that is sealed with mud on Shabbos, this should be done by a non-Jew. If a non-Jew is not available a minor should open the sealed oven. But if even a minor is not available a Jewish adult may open the oven door but he should do so with a change from the usual manner in which he would have opened the seal.

The Mekor Chaim explains that an oven represents a person’s heart and mind, the seat of his thoughts and emotions. Sometimes we feel as though we cannot seem to access our true selves or change our most important attitudes regarding important things. How can we possibly repent if our hearts seem blocked?

The best way to clear out the blockages of our hearts is to rejoice that one is a Jew. This is Hashem’s decision, which we should certainly appreciate. Who can possibly fathom the greatness of being a member of the chosen nation of Hashem? Rebbe Nachman of Breslov stressed the great importance of internalizing a feeling of gratitude to Hashem for making us a Jew. As we say during the uva l’tzion prayer, “Blessed is our G-d who has divided us from those who err and has given us the Torah of truth!”

One morning, the Chassidim noticed that the holy Chozeh of Lublin zy”a refrained from saying the blessing, “She’lo asani goy…” during the morning prayers. They were dumbfounded by this apparently inconsistent behavior, but didn’t have the nerve to ask the Chozeh for an explanation. After Shacharis, the Rebbe turned to his followers and said, “I’m sure that you are all wondering why I failed to say the brochah ‘she’lo asani goy’ this morning, and so I will tell you my secret. I already said it early this morning when I woke up.

“As soon as I awoke, I did my usual cheshbon hanefesh but I was dismayed to find myself without a single merit to my credit! I felt like the lowest of the low, the very worst person in the world. But, just then, I found a way to console myself. I said to myself, ‘I am still a Jew! I may not act the way I should, but I am still so blessed that I am not a goy!’ My heart overflowed with joy, and I immediately made the blessing right then and there!”

But what if a person is not yet able to connect to his inner gladness of being a Jew? In that case, he can still unplug his heart by starting again like a little child. Just begin again as the Breslover song goes, “What was was, the main thing is from now on!” Of course one must change what he did wrong, yet one of the best ways to connect to Hashem is by making a completely new start of it. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov said that one must sometimes make many new beginnings in the same day. Surely a person who feels stopped up must keep starting fresh until he breaks though to his heart.

And what if one cannot open his blocked heart even by starting again? In that case, he must make a meaningful change. First he should change his attitude which is blocking him from fulfilling the other two methods of unstopping his heart.

At the very least, he should learn an extra daf gemara or do extra mitzvos with the express purpose of drawing nearer to Hashem though these actions, as much as possible. Doing a little more spiritually with the simple desire to connect to Hashem is a very effective way to rid oneself of the over-sophistication which prevents him from feeling the joy of being Jewish and starting fresh from scratch.

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