|Zeev Hatorah-Shofetim-Elul-The Sleeping Heart|
|Escrito por Rabbi Shmuel Brazil|
In Berachos 59 the gemarrah says that the purpose of thunder is to smoothen out the crookedness of the heart. For if one suddenly hears a clap of thunder that hits close to home, for a second he becomes shaken and maybe even terrified by experiencing for a moment or two the fear of loss of life. As the old saying goes there are no non-believers in a fox hole.
Let us contrast for a moment the panorama of crookedness that appears on different objects and the standard process used for their removal. If one has a page in a sefer that is folded over, all he has to do is just to smooth it out with his finger or hand. If he has a wrinkle in his shirt or a crease in his jacket he must use something heavier such as an iron. If he wants to straighten out a piece of metal that is crooked he must first heat it red hot in a furnace and when soft he then proceeds to make it even. Now when it comes to the crookedness of the heart which is merely flesh, it requires a blast of thunder upon which we recite the beracha שכוחו וגבורתו מלא עולם. This teaches us that removal of the bents in the heart is much more difficult and challenging than the removal of even a crooked piece of metal. Why is this so?
Let us examine the plague of hail in Egypt upon which the Torah says that those who were G-d fearing gathered their animals from the fields into shelters. However, those who did not place their hearts to the word of Hashem left their servants and animals in the fields and they perished. Notice that the opposite of the individuals who feared Hashem are described as those who did not place their hearts to the words of Hashem. For the true definition of a G-d fearing individual is not only someone who thinks but someone who takes his thinking and connects it to his heart. In this episode of hail we have people who witnessed up until this time six plagues and the unchallenged omnipotence of Hashem who can do anything and follows through with His words. Yet, because this truth failed to penetrate their hearts and thereby straighten out its crookedness, they ignored the past and the future and were devastated. How can this happen?
When a heart is in a sleeping state, man loses touch with the reality of spirit. Yet every atom, every object, every condition and every living being has a time of awakening. Sometimes there is a gradual awakening, and sometimes there is a sudden awakening. To some persons it comes in a moment’s time – by a blow, by a disappointment, or because their heart has broken through something that happened suddenly. It seemed cruel, but at the same time the result was a sudden awakening and this awakening brought a blessing beyond praise. The outlook changed, the insight deepened; joy, quiet, independence and freedom were felt, and compassion showed in the attitude. A person who would never forgive, who liked to take revenge, who was easily displeased and cross, a person who would measure and weigh, when his heart is awakened, becomes in one moment a different person.
When the heart is asleep it transforms into a lev ha’even a heart of stone. The fire which is hidden within it, the ner Hashem, can only he brought to life when it is struck by a hard material for it is then that the fire appears. So it is with the heart. The fire which is life, love and feeling towards Hashem and which is the most sacred thing in us, is hidden in the heart as the fire in the stone. When it is struck hardly, the fire appears. That is why we receive great blows in life. The person becomes thoughtful as soon as the fire appears after his heart of stone is hit. He is enabled and empowered to place a new and fresh perspective on old outlooks.
This is symbolic in the lightening that actualizes simultaneously with the thunder although it appears first. It is Hashem’s message to the recipient of the thunder that its purpose is to awaken the heart of stone and bring out the fire and light that resides deep inside.
What lulls the heart to sleep? Put plain and simple the answer is bad characteristic traits. The middos רעות of a person doesn’t allow the intellect and conscience penetrate into the heart to awaken it and enable man to make a serious change. New insight is likened to thunder which can rectify the distortions of the heart as long as one has virtuous middos that do not interfere with nor interrupt the flow of this enlightening information. A hinting to this is that the gematriah of המחשבה = רעמים
Well meaning people think that every Elul they must work to improve themselves by adding extra mitzvos, accepting upon themselves to perform more acts of chesed, learning more Torah, and that is the extent of their teshuvah. Unfortunately, they do not realize that even with all these new commitments, their hearts are still sleeping for they completely eliminated a greater bulk of the teshuvah process – the tikkun hamiddos. As the Rambam says in Hilchos Teshuva chapter 7,3 that a person in order to do teshuva he must seek with an introspection to delve into his own erroneous concepts and distorted beliefs and do teshuva on them. He lists for example the middos of anger, hatred, jealousy, machlokes, the pursuit after money and honor, the fulfilling of one’s cravings for gluttony etc. Very demanding and not much of what you would have expected.
An individual is not fully redeemed and emancipated unless he frees himself from the shackles of bad middos. The passuk says פדת שלח לעמו (Tehillim 114,9) that Hashem sent redemption to His people. The word פדת is gematriah מדות בלב. A person is truly free when he is in the driver’s seat and is in total control of his middos and not that his middos are in control of him. Rav Dessler ztl said that even though there is a mitzvah of oneg Shabbos one has to ensure that he is the one who is eating the cholent and not that the cholent is eating him! Rav Tzadok ztl from Lublin as a young man was once eating is the Succah and abruptly stopped. When asked why he replied I am no longer eating in the Succah but rather in the delicious soup. The seat of the middos is in the heart. If our heart is a zoo of middos ra’os then for sure it is still in a deep slumber disabling and hindering a person from being aroused to his spiritual calling from Hashem.
The blowing of the shofar is also likened to the insightful thunder and lightning that awaken the heart from its slumber באור פניך יהלכון אשרי העם יודעי תרועה As the Rambam writes in Hilchos Teshuva chapter 3 the shofar helps one awaken from hisתרדמה which means deep sleep. If we analyze the word we will notice that it is composed of two words תרד – מה. The word “mah” symbolizes negation and nullification. “Mah” is gematriah אדם which indicates that man must nullify himself to Hashem. This nullification is the middah of יראה. When one’s heart is in a slumber he has lost the power of nullification towards the dvar Hashem. The shofar is the clap of thunder that brings fear and hence salvation to the sleeping heart.
That is the reason why we recite the Ledovid Hashem ori veyishee immediately after the blowing of the shofar every morning in order to realize that the parallel of the blowing is the same purpose of lightening [אורי) and thunderישעי) ) the gematriah of הרעמים לב (the thunder for the heart) to correct the crookedness of the sleeping heart. For sleep is likened to death and the term of yeshuah is used to portray the resurrection of the dead ואין דומה לך מושיעינו לתחיית המתים \ מחיה מתים אתה רב להושיע). The shofar which symbolizes the thunder is a form of techiays hamaisim. For it will be through the Big Shofar that Techiyas Hameisim will take place (Osiyos Rabbi Akiva 9). We end the beracha of shofaros in Musaf Shemoneh Esrai with the words ואין דומה לך no one can compare to You which echos the second beracha of Shemoneh Esrai ומי דומה לך מלך ממית ומחיה a statement which particularly refers to the power of Hashem to resurrect the dead as we find in birchas shema of Shabbos ואין דומה לך מושיעינו לתחיית המתים
We listen to the sounds of a bent of shofar to demonstrate that even if our hearts are crooked, the thundering clap of the shofar can stir and awaken even us.