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Don’t Count Your Blessings

Topic: Well Being | Posted:February 12, 2014

The portion Ki Tisa begins with the giving of the half a shekel. There’s a whole discussion in the Zohar about the fact that the giving of the half a shekel was about uniting and reconnecting each one of our souls with the Light of the Creator, and through this process receiving great blessings meant to come down to every single one of us on this Shabbat. But there was a danger that those blessings would become finite and end.

In the beginning of this portion it also talks about counting the Israelites. And the Zohar says that in order to make sure the blessings not only come down but are maintained, we need to be careful not to count the Israelites. Because once you count a blessing, you end it. Blessings only rest, it says, on things that are not counted.

People think counting our blessings is a positive thing though, right? You want to count your blessings. You want to know how much goodness you’ve received from the Light of the Creator.

But the Zohar says the opposite. The Zohar says that neither blessings nor the Light of the Creator can rest on anything that’s counted. So, what does it really mean not to count your blessings?

To begin this understanding, the kabbalists use an example.

Let’s say you are standing in front of the king and he’s giving you a gift of money. Would it be right for you to start counting the coins right then and there to see how much he is giving you? No. When the king is giving you a gift, you don’t look at the coins and count them; you look at the face of the king. If you keep looking at the face of the king while your hand is outstretched and the king is giving you coins, the king will continue giving coins. But the second you start counting them, the king not only stops giving them but also removes his gaze from you. When we start counting the gifts we receive, on a deeper level, the kabbalists tell us that we also stop receiving.

So to actually have a constant flow of blessings, when you’re receiving the gift, you have to not look at what you are receiving, but rather look at the face of the king. And if you do that, the gifts, the blessing, keep coming. The king never stops giving. Therefore, what is the secret of blessings, and more importantly, how can we make sure that the blessings we receive can truly be endless?

To answer and awaken this in us, there is a section from the Zohar in Ekev. The secret of the blessings, it says, is to draw them from above to below. The word baruch, which means blessed, or blessing, is the secret of the Source, the most Supernal Source. And the Source of blessings is being blessed, always. Its waters, its blessings never cease, it says.

The kabbalists explain, for example, if you have a seed and you want it to become something bigger— a tree, a fruit, a vegetable— in the moment you put it in the ground, what’s your request or thought? Not that the Light of the Creator blesses the seed, because a blessing that comes right now is not going to do anything, but rather that the blessing which begins in the seed continues to multiply further and further… that’s a real blessing. A real blessing is one that continues to multiply forever; and every blessing that we receive is a blessing that is meant to multiply forever.

So in order to make sure that the blessings we have multiply forever, we have to first to be clear that a real blessing is something that multiplies forever. If it stops multiplying, if it stops bringing us more and more blessings, it’s because we’ve done something to end the flow of that blessing. Because, as the Zohar says, if it’s a real blessing, it’s blessing forever; its waters, its flow of Light and blessing never stop. And as long as the individual keeps looking towards the Creator and knows that everything that is happening is only from the hand of the Light of the Creator, then the Creator’s Light will never cease to increase that blessing.

But if a person thinks even for one second that because of how smart he is, how powerful he is, or for whatever reason he allows his ego to get in the way to say that the blessings are all coming from him, then the Creator stops gazing at that person. Therefore, further blessings have to stop. Once the Creator removes His gaze, His Light, from that blessing, no further blessing can reside there.

We’ve spoken about this many times: the only way a blessing can become what it’s truly meant to be - which is a constantly multiplying flow - is when the individual does not even have 1% of his ego involved in it. When you look at your kids, your health, your business, or at anything, and think “this is mine,” that indicates counting. When we start counting it, we make it “mine. “ And when we start making those blessings “mine,” we make it so that the Light of the Creator can no longer look at us, and the flow of that blessing stops.

Therefore, how do we make it so that the flow continues and that the gifts continue being given? By never make it “ours.” And how do we make sure that the Light of the Creator continues to flow? By having a greater growing, overwhelming appreciation for what we have.

Unfortunately, appreciation is not something that comes naturally to us, but when a person does not push themselves to find new ways to make their overwhelming appreciation for the gifts that they have greater, they cut off the flow of the Light of the Creator into that blessing. When the individual stops appreciating - which, of course, is human nature - and does not continue to push himself to appreciate to greater and greater degrees the Light of the Creator that is infused into the blessings that he has with him, that consciousness stops the flow of the Light of the Creator into that blessing, and it can no longer grow. It might take five, ten, or fifty years for it to die off, but he or she, with that consciousness, has made it so that the Light of the Creator has to be cut off from that blessing.

In order to allow the flow of the Light of the Creator to continue being infused into our blessings, we need to constantly be pushing ourselves to grow our overwhelming appreciation for the gifts that we already have, never making them “ours.” And if a person is able to do that, then he allows the Light of the Creator to keep giving. The reason we lose appreciation is because it becomes “ours.” This happens a lot with relationships. Usually, when people are dating, they’re trying to get the man or woman to like them, and there’s appreciation. Why? Because it’s not theirs yet. But once it’s theirs, there stops being appreciation. Once it’s theirs, there is no flow of the Light of the Creator. And once there’s no flow of the Light of the Creator, it cannot grow in its blessing.

Unfortunately, that’s what we do in every one of our blessings, when we stop pushing ourselves to grow our appreciation for that blessing. But if we stop counting our blessings, as we learn from this portion, we can make sure that that flow of the Light of the Creator, that limitless flow of blessings, not only continues, but becomes greater and greater.

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