Counting Our Blessings

For the week ending 5 December 2020 / 19 Kislev 5781

Coming Back to Life Every Day - Part 2

by Rabbi Reuven Lauffer
Library Library Library

“My G-d, the soul You placed within me is pure. You created it, You fashioned it, You breathed it into me, You safeguard it within me, and eventually You will take it from me, and restore it to me in Time to Come. As long as the soul is within me, I gratefully thank You, Hashem, my G-d and the G-d of my forefathers, Master of all works, L-rd of all souls. Blessed are You, Hashem, Who restores souls to dead bodies.”

The text of our blessing is acknowledging that our souls belong to G-d. Not just that, but each soul is unique and it has been embedded within us by G-d. Its function is to give us the capability to fuse the disparate concepts of spirituality and physicality together during our time in this physical world. But the blessing also reminds us that our time here is transient and that at some point we will return our precious soul to its Maker. It is as if the blessing is imploring us to use our time wisely and not allow ourselves to become distracted by the physical to the point that we lose sight of our spiritual selves.

The words, “You safeguard it within me” are a stark reminder that the soul is able to coexist with the body only because G-d allows it to. And that we are in this world to fulfill a purpose. Additionally, we have each been allotted a specific amount of time in this world by G-d. The blessing is reminding us that we must endeavor to maximize our lives, so that when the time comes to return our souls to our Maker we are able to do so in the most accomplished way possible.

Therefore, the blessing emphasizes the fundamental idea that we must spend our time in the pursuit of spiritual goals because, ultimately, it is only the spiritual that can make the transition from this world to the next.

In 1920 in communist Russia, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson was hauled up in front of the “All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution, Profiteering and Corruption” — commonly known as theCheka, the precursor to the dreaded and loathed GDU — for his religious activities. All religious endeavors were regarded as being anti-establishment, and, therefore, seditious. It was an especially serious accusation, which carried with it a punishment of exile or even execution, depending on the whims of the “judges” who heard the case. When confronted by a “court” that was comprised of rabidly atheist communists, Rabbi Schneerson was not in the least bit intimidated and he would not back down from his intent to continue teaching Torah. He stated, absolutely and clearly, that he would not abandon his goal regardless of any threats they made against him. One of the “judges” was so enraged by his remarks that he drew his pistol and pointed it straight at the Rabbi. “This little toy has made many a man change his mind,” he said with an arrogant sneer. Rabbi Schneerson looked at him and calmly replied, “Your little toy can only intimidate the kind of man who has many gods and but one world. I, however, have only one G‑d and two worlds, and, therefore, I am not impressed by your little toy!” To be continued…

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