I’m Baal Teshuva, now what? Ultimate connection.

We are essentially part of a process and a greater plan. And yet our very actions, our choices, dictate that process within us. At what point do our actions become us? At what point do we reconnect the spark of emes that we felt when it all began with the hard yards we travelled to learn all those thousands of rules that we now follow. At what point do we stop to connect the dots, to reconnect to the bigger picture, to remember the Shema and reach daas? We can be surrounded by so many black hats and yet feel totally disconnected.

They say that the longest distance is between your head and your heart. Today I learnt that the longest distance is also between your intentions and your actions. A Baal Teshuva is often facing the challenge of balancing between what they know to be true, i.e. ‘best practice’ holiness, and that which unfortunately can become automatic, mundane and disconnected. Some of us are better able to draw a clear connection between the inspiration and the actualisation than others. No one is judging. Whatever your journey, one day or the next we all reach a point where we must reconnect and take a look back, to remember. What is this all for? What do the words I now regurgitate out really mean? Where is Hashem in all this?

At this ultimate point, when you are able to unite the spark with the effort, the seed with the fertile ground, you have come full circle and your life is then an intimate expression of Hashem’s will. You choose to have the intent, the kavanah, and follow through to reveal Him in this world. It is not good for the seed to be without a way of expressing it, and its not good to have expression without direction. The ultimate aim is to marry the two in harmony. As a baal teshuva, this is a powerful and satisfying place to be, as difficult as it is to get there, if we merit to get there.

However, to look back and see how far you’ve come is not the end. It’s not about your ego or some public reward. In fact, many of us get ostracized by those we love because of our changes. The sages tell us that “if I am only for myself, who am I?” There is an internal reward that is 100% satisfying, but more importantly its much greater when we are able to give some of it over. When we realize we have gained something to the extent that we are now able to give it over, to bring it to life for someone else, that is the ultimate reward. That is creation of a new world from your world. You had the spark (chochma), you worked hard and overcame many obstacles to finally know the basics of what it means to be a Jew (bina), and ultimately you are able to join the two in harmony, in shalom, to reveal the essence (daas). To achieve this is the ultimate journey of a baal teshuva and of any Jew. We must remember each one of us has that potential. Who you are is innately great. The struggle we go to in order to build that harmony is a life’s journey. May yoube blessed with strength and understanding on that journey.

This was inspired by a class by Rabbi Doniel Katz. Find his classes at thesongbegins.com

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