Shabbos Parashas Mattos-Masei

Sefer HaMiddos, Shaar HaDaas (Gate of the Intellect), Chapter 5
Now, my dear soul, walk about and survey your path, listen to what you say, ponder your deeds, and see how your actions contradict your words. You speak constantly of fear and love of Hashem, you serve your Master and pray to Him, but virtually all of this is falsehood. For your do not examine your service to Hashem, to judge whether it is true service or not; instead you act just like a horse or a mule with no understanding [cf. Tehillim 32:9]. For if you truly accepted upon yourself the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven, offered your prayers to Hashem earnestly, and poured out your supplications before Him, why do you show no signs of submission to Hashem, like a servant before his master? Consider how much fear and trembling come upon you when you stand before some government official, how carefully you obey his orders. Go take your service to Me and the honor you show Me and offer them to one of these officials! [cf. Malachi 1:8] How is it that your limbs remain firm when you come to pray before the King of Kings, to whom sovereignty truly belongs? How is it that you say “Blessed are You, Hashem, our God, King of the Universe,” and you speak these words just like you speak to your children or your friends? You walk about secure and calm, like a person who owes no debts and has no demands on him. Where is your wisdom, your declaration that you fear God?
If someone would ask you about this world, you would say it is vanity of vanities, a deception. But you pursue worldly matters with all your strength and rejoice in your worldly attainments. And if you lose some money, you get upset and agitated. You put yourself in great risk for money, you travel across the seas. And all that for temporary pleasures. When Rosh Hashanah comes you recite aloud the words of the Unesaneh Tokef prayer: “Behold, the Day of Judgment! … On Rosh Hashanah it is written and on the fast day of Yom Kippur it is sealed. How many will pass on and how many will be born. Who will live and who will die ….” Yet your heart is secure, your inner strength is firm. Consider how you would act if you were in the forest and you heard the sound of a fierce wild animal. Think about how you would be struck with fear and trembling, how your limbs would virtually come out of joint, how you would be seized with panic – even though the danger you face threatens only the body. If you really took to heart what you are saying when you recite the Unesaneh Tokef prayer, that today is the Day of Judgment on all mankind, body and soul, and your life is hanging in the balance, your heart would sway like trees swaying in the wind.
In truth, your heart is devoid of any real awareness of these matters. The words you utter with your mouth are just words you accustomed yourself to say over the years. If you scrutinize yourself, you will recognize your foolishness, and you will see that you have not reached even the beginning of true intellect – you are virtually bereft of true human understanding.
So make a fresh start. Imagine you were created just today. Marvel over your existence, and over the existence of all that your eyes see. How did all this come into being? Marvel over it all, the way you marvel when you come upon something new. If you ponder the world in this way, you will guide yourself wisely to the true path and achieve true success. Learn to know in your heart that there is a great and awesome God who created and watches over the world. Then you will fear Him and be abashed before Him, and you will serve Him truly and wholeheartedly, with fear, love, and submissiveness. You will act the way a person acts in the presence of a king – heart melting like wax in the presence of fire. As David HaMelech puts it (Tehillim 2:11), as you rejoice in serving Hashem you will tremble.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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