Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Blood Tests

Those who possess the evil characteristic of always desiring to outdo others cannot accept the truth. When people have the desire to always be right, even when the truth is plain before their eyes, they will distort it in order to maintain their imagined superiority. This applies in all areas of life.

Rebbe Nachman teaches that this abovementioned evil characteristic is akin to strife. He explains that the source of the urge to be victorious, along with the desire to control others, is none other than one's own blood. The verse states (Isaiah 63:3) "Their blood was sprinkled". The root of the Hebrew "nitzcham" (their blood) is Netzach which also translates as "victory".

The desire to be victorious is naturally inherent in the blood. However, someone who serves G-d with all his being succeeds in purifying his blood from evil desires. In this way he can break down within himself the attribute of strife, and the desire to rule over others, and thus bring about peace.

Rebbe Nachman teaches that there are ways to purify the entire bloodstream at once. The cause of sin is the evil inclination, which has taken up residence in the heart, causing putrid blood to flow throughout the body.

Remaining Silent
One way to purify this blood is to remain silent when insulted, to bear embarrassment. By remaining silent, a person controls his desire to return the insult and he refrains from anger, a manifestation of the evil inclination.

This is apparent from the reaction one feels when insulted: when a person is shamed, he blushes, and his face becomes flushed with embarrassment. He then turns white, as if his blood were drained. The blood symbolizes his sins, and his reaction of turning "white" symbolizes a cleansing of those sins that have permeated his bloodstream. Even though blood is still rushing through his body, his control over himself and desistance from retort is true repentance, for it constitutes a powerful act of controlling his evil inclination.

A person who is humiliated should bear in mind the spiritual benefits that accrue through the suffering he undergoes. Blood represents judgment. It requires much patience to endure suffering (in the form of judgment, humiliation etc). Blood also represents repentance. When we remain silent in the face of embarrassment and opposition, we purify our blood and achieve our highest potential. A normal flow of blood is facilitated by an attitude of joy which allows us to feel a spirit of renewal.

Source: "Anatomy of the Soul" - Chaim Kramer - from the writings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

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