Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Conscious and the Subconcious Mitzvot

Do we really have free choice? Most people tend to view this as a yes-or-no type of question, but the correct answer is in fact, yes and no.

a) The inner core of the soul is totally at one with G-d. At this subconscious level, the soul of every Jew wishes to observe all the mitzvot and to avoid transgressing any prohibitions. There is no desire for evil here; there simply is no other option than doing good.

b) At the conscious level however, where we interact with the more superficial layers of the soul's complex psyche, there is room for both good and evil. Here, the soul's inner desire to observe all the mitzvot is felt only as a weaker 'signal', which is susceptible to 'interference' from the opposing messages of our animalistic instincts. So at the conscious level, we do indeed possess free choice.

In general, the Torah speaks to our conscious mind. We are told to observe the mitzvot with the full awareness of what we are doing, and we are charged with bringing an awareness of spirituality into our normal, daily lives.

However, at this conscious level, we are susceptible to being drawn away from a life of holiness, or stifled by the limitations that the world appears to present. So while most of the mitzvot were given to the conscious part of the soul, G-d saw it necessary to give us some mitzvot which speak directly to the inner core of the soul, helping the soul's unlimited energy and total commitment to good to flow outwards to the conscious mind. These special mitzvot help us stay in tune with our subconscious commitment to Judaism, when our conscious observance becomes strained or limited.

With most mitzvot, G-d told Moshe to address the Jewish people with the term דבר "daber" [speak] or אמור "emor" [say]. While the mitzvot conveyed with these terms are of course obligatory, the more passive, indirect mood of the words "speak" and "say" indicate that these mitzvot are directed at the superficial layers of the soul which possess free choice.

Parshas Tzav, in contrast, uses the more direct imperative term צו "tsav" [command], alluding to a type of mitzvah which speaks to the soul's inner core that does not possess true free-choice; and is simply "commanded" to obey G-d's will. These special mitzvot which are included in this Parsha are aimed at helping our inner identity of unquestioning and uninhibited commitment to the Jewish faith surface in everyday life.

Based on Likutei Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe


Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful vort! Makes so much sense how the Torah is the guide to our conscious world, the world we live in, where the outside influence are so great, that there is sort of a confusion and that's why it's probably so easy to sin; therefore, the tests (challenges) in life tp make us overcome the bad in the world. The Torah guides us away from the sins and brings us to our inner core to know there is only H' and to obey His mitzvot and to fear & love HIM.

Goldie ZP said...

Devorah, thank you for posting this. HaShem is so good to us! I do not know if you have heard of Tsyrl Turen, the principal of Bnos Rabbinu High School in Chicago, however, I mention her because I spoke with her regarding geula, moshiach, choices as this post of yours brings up AND just this Friday I printed out a book she put together about bringing Moshiach...our actions bring moshiach etc. Please see my latest post on a discour from the Rebbe. So happy to have printed this book just in time to usher in Nissan and the Geula!