Topic: Personal Transformation | Posted:October 14, 2015
The Noam Elimelech gives a very important teaching that relates to the portion of Noach, but also, more importantly, to our spiritual work. Before he teaches regarding Noah he first explains a verse which says that the minute a person thinks he has done something right and perfectly - certainly if it is something of a spiritual nature - then he immediately falls. Even if an individual is truly righteous and has achieved the level of tzadik, if he thinks of himself as a righteous person- which, of course, would objectively be the truth - he loses everything. It is a very important understanding because all of us, if we are honest, think a lot about all the things we have done right and all the ways we have shared.
On the other side of that is an individual who is doing everything right, but still knows that he has not done enough compared to what he needs to do. Only then, the Noam Elimelech says, does he receive strength to maintain and continue his spiritual work.
Let’s take two people. One of them is a completely righteous person, a person who has never fallen, never done anything negative, who spends all of his time sharing. And objectively, on a spiritual level, he is all the way up there. The other person, however, is like the rest of us, who, although he has done actions of sharing, has not achieved what he was meant to achieve. So you look at these two people –a truly righteous person and someone like our self – and you would say the righteous person, is, of course, much higher. But the Noam Elimelech says where you are makes almost no difference, because the only question is: do you see your work as being right and perfect? Because even if a person is completely righteous, but sees his work as being right and perfect, he will lose everything.
Hopefully now we understand the importance of being honest with ourselves about where we are in our spiritual work and how much we are lacking in it. No matter how low we are, if we are honest about how much more we have to do, then the Noam Elimelech says we get at least three blessings:
First, we receive all the Light from the level where we are currently. Meaning, the person who is low, but has a true understanding of how much he is lacking and how much more he needs to do, receives all the Light of the level that he is already on.
Second, we receive strength from the Creator never to lose our connection.
Third, we receive the assistance to continue to grow.
The fact that where we are is much less important than how truthful we are in our vision of ourselves is an amazing lesson. This is why King David said, “When I feel righteous, when I feel like I have done, then I only see a ma’chazah, vision, of a connection to the Light of the Creator. I do not have a true connection.” The word ma’chazah, or vision, expresses a low connection to the Light of the Creator; this demonstrates that when King David had that sense of righteousness, he fell from the level where he originally was, only seeing a vision with a very limited connection to the Light of the Creator.
This understanding is also in this portion of Noach. It says in the first verse, “These are the children.” The word av, or father, represents the higher level, and toladah, child, represents the lower level. Therefore, it is like comparing a child to a father. It is not a connection to the true root, to the true Light of the Creator.
Why did Noah only connect to the lower level, which is called “child?” Because he viewed himself as having been righteous. At that time, every single person in the world was negative; they were stealing and killing, doing the worst things in the world. So Noah, objectively, looks at everybody else and then looks at himself, and comparatively, he is perfect. The Creator even says about him, “You are right, you are a tzadik;” however, the second Noah viewed himself in that way, he lost everything that he truly was. Because Noah saw himself as a righteous person, he only got to the level of connection of a child compared to a father, a lower level compared to the true connection to the Light of the Creator.
Therefore, one of the obvious and important lessons we are given on this Shabbat is to be aware of the danger of being satisfied with anything we have done of a spiritual nature. And it is not just that we say it; it is that we think it. You can be the lowest person in the world, but if you are honest about where you are and do not have a spiritual satisfaction, then you receive the Light of the Creator, you receive strength never to fall, and you receive the assistance to continue to grow.