SPARKS OF INSIGHT
1. God Is Like A Loving Parent
When my father, Mac Buxbaum, of blessed memory, passed away, I had the following insight about why God is called our Heavenly Father. It is especially memorable to me because my rebbe and teacher, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, phoned me from Florida to offer me consolation. I was very moved and honored to receive a call from Shlomo. I passed on this insight first to him then.
The closest you will get to knowing what God is like is by seeing how much your loving parent loves you. That is why He is called our Heavenly Father. Some people are lucky and have two parents who love them. Some people are unlucky and neither parent loves them. But most people have at least one parent who loves them. And the closest you'll get to knowing what God is like is by seeing how your loving parent loves you.
2. An Angel That Strikes You
The Rabbis say that a person doesn't stub his toe below on earth, unless it's been decreed about in heaven. They say elsewhere that every blade of grass has an angel (a mazal) that strikes it and tells it, "Grow!"
Both of these teachings are about hashgachah pratit -- divine providence. It occurred to me to relate them. Particularly on Tu BeShvat, the New Year of the Trees, the Rabbis tell us that "a person is like a tree of the field." A person should also be humble, like a blade of grass. When we stub our toe -- or when other mishaps or suffering afflicts us, God forbid -- we should realize that it is our mazal, our angel, striking us, at God's command, so that we will grow. But we can only grow from suffering if we are humble like a blade of grass and receive it with love, as a divine lesson.
3. Torah in the Book, the World, and the Soul
When the divine Word emanated from God's mouth, it split into three: part created the world, the universe; part became the Torah; part became all the human souls.
One can find divine wisdom in the Torah -- in the book. God created the world with His Word, so there is also Torah in all things and events -- divine lessons and hints for those who can read them.
There is also Torah in each human soul. The Rabbis say that a person's soul can teach him. The Baal Shem Tov said, for example, that his soul told him that he attained his exalted spiritual levels not because of Torah study but because of his fervent prayer with self-sacrifice. Rabbi Pinhas of Koretz said: a person's soul teaches him constantly but it never says the same thing twice. The prophet said that God will one day write the Torah in our hearts. The truth is that it is already written there, but we don't read it. The Rabbis say that Abraham and the other Patriarchs and Matriarchs knew the whole Torah before it was given on Mount Sinai. They read it in their heart, which advised them about the divine will and wisdom. If you attend well, you will realize that the Torah in books moves you because it reflects the Torah in your heart. The Zohar says that God, the Torah, and Israel are mystically one -- Why? because each Jew has God's Torah in his heart. The Torah's light-- Torah orah -- is the same light as the soul, which is a candle of God.
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