Part 17 - Energize your Inner Strength
Seven times the righteous one will fall, and seven times the righteous one will get up. As for the evil one’s, they will fail the first time and remain wicked.
What are specific acts we can do to rectify our souls?
One of the best ways to re-strengthen our souls is to go to a mikveh. A mikveh is a natural body of water that a Jew goes to in order to spiritually purify himself. Many religious Jews will go to a mikveh before Shabbat. All Jews are supposed to go to a mikveh right before Yom Kippur. Going to a mikveh is simple. You take off all your clothes, as well as rings or other jewelry, and totally submerge yourself under the water. That’s it.
This simple act makes a very powerful tsuva for your soul.
Immersing in a mikveh repairs the damage done to your soul through acts of pgam habrit. As discussed before, the act of spilling seed creates hundreds of thousands of souls that have no physical body to occupy. They become captured by the forces of impurity. These trapped souls suffer greatly. They hang around you and make sure you suffer along with them. Have you ever thought things you found repulsive? Did it feel like the thoughts which entered your mind were really not yours? What’s happening are the spiritual souls that you spilled out to the ground are torturing you for the situation you put them in.
Immersing in a mikveh is one of the most effective ways to fight this. Immersing in a mikveh releases many of these souls from their predicament. It reduces the forces of impurity that constantly surround you, and allow your soul to strengthen. When your body does something in this world your soul does the same thing in the higher worlds. As your body immerses in the water in this world, your soul is immersing in a mikveh up above.
The impact on us is amazing.
A mikveh will strengthen your soul and sensitize you to the beauty in this world. It would be great to go each morning before you begin your day. If you can’t, try to go a couple of times a week. If you still can’t, try to go at least on Friday, or, right before Shabbat. Don’t worry if you are not observant. All of us have Jewish souls, and those souls react the same way. To a spirit, immersing in a mikveh is a very empowering act. It fills the soul, and the body, with great amounts of energy. Don’t ever think that this is ‘too religious’ or something. You can find a mikveh in your area by going to http://mikvah.org/directory/. They cost about $2 or $3 per visit and they are open to the public.
Imagine trying to run a mile with a broken leg. You won’t get very far. Even if you do complete the mile, it will take you a long time. How much better will you run as your leg heals? Once it is out of a cast, you will be able to complete the mile and in a reasonable time. How much better will you run once your leg is completely healed? You will be able to run faster, and longer distances as well. This is exactly what it is like as you gradually take on more and more of the mitzvah of Shmirat HaBrit. The blemishes on your soul will continue to heal and the capacity your neshama has for the sake of doing more in the way of prayer, Torah learning, and acts of Hesed will significantly increase. You will see.
The mikveh is a significant part of the spiritual healing process.
When a soul enters the mikveh, it regains its alertness. A mikveh sensitizes you to everything, especially to the beauty in the world. We take for granted that there are so many physical wonders around us. We see a building, and are awestruck by its size. We don’t realize that in contrast to the vast sky, it is very small. We see cars, and telephones, and computers, but don’t stop for a second to look at the intricate veins that comprise a single leaf. At every moment, we are surrounded by awe-inspiring beauty. The skies stand above us, flowers bloom around us, birds fly hover around us. One of the most amazing things about a mikveh is that in strengthening your soul, you regain spiritual sensitivity to all of it!
This revelation overflows to many aspects of our life. In finding awareness in the beauty all around us, we re-discover a special intimacy with Hashem. When we look out our office windows and see the sky, clouds, birds, trees, even a body of water – we see how great Hashem’s creations are. Every physical object in the universe was made, and is constantly being made by Hashem. This is the RamBam’s first principle of the Jewish faith. Every object has a degree of spirituality invested in it.
In simply looking around us, we become keenly aware that at every moment Hashem is creating a spectacular symphony of beauty just for us! We uncover the revelation that not only does Hashem guide the trillions of stars in the cosmos, He personally oversees the breeze blowing on a single blade of grass. If Hashem is constantly watching over all the inanimate bodies in the world, how much more so with each of us!
What a happier life we can live with the knowledge that Hashem personally watches over us in everything that we do.
It’s one thing to read the words, it’s another to grasp this concept and allow it to impact your essence. Immerse in a mikveh and you will gain a deeper understanding of this Divine joy.
When you go to a mikveh, and awaken the spirituality that Hashem invested in you, you are reconnecting with the inherent spirituality all around you.
For example, I have been taking the Northern State Parkway all my life. From the time I was 17 years old, all I saw were cars: lots of them! The drive on that road would be full of pavement, drivers, and loud noise. Once I started going to the mikveh, something pretty unbelievable happened. I started to notice the beautiful things on the highway. I noticed that on both sides of the highway there was greenery. There was grass, squirrels, and birds. I began to notice that. In front of me, along with the 2,000 cars in front, there was a beautiful horizon right above. The picture was lovely. In the evening, I could see the clouds lit up in fiery orange as the sun set. Mind you, I am not talking about a beach off the coast of Venice. I am talking about the easily perceivable beauty on the Northern State Expressway during a traffic jam in rush hour! That is how powerful a mikveh is. This is the potential our neshamot have to perceive Hashem’s beauty in the world. If you are going to the mikveh for the first time, your spirit will be able to perceive many phenomena around you for the first time. Even sights you saw all your life will seem different. You will feel like everything in the world is new and wondrous. It’s like being a kid again.
Imagine how amazing it is when you take a parkway that goes over water, or by a beach. Seeing the sun reflect upon a lake, the clouds explode in the sky. It’s spectacular.
One should go to a mikveh if he has had a nocturnal emission. If one dreams about women, and doesn’t have an emission, he should still go to a mikveh. Evil forces appear to a man during his dreams in the form of women. You can destroy them by immersing in a mikveh. Over time, a mikveh will heal almost all spiritual blemishes. There are many different combinations of how many times you must totally immerse yourself. Immersing yourself means dunking your entire body in the water. When immersing, run your hand right above your head to make sure that all of your hair is under water. Have in mind the concept of tsuva and repenting for previous acts when going in the water. When you are in the water, the hundreds of thousands of souls that were captured by the shells of evil and constantly plague you, cannot do you any harm. Once you get out of the mikveh, many of them are killed off. The mikveh is one of the biggest tikkunim, or acts of tsuva that you can do to combat the sins of pgam habrit.
Try going to a mikveh.
All of them are kept clean. If you are not observant, don’t worry about being surrounded by observant Jews. It is a perfectly natural thing for a Jew to go to a mike and these men know that. Today, a big percentage of religious Jews are newly observant. If you encounter a religious man at a mikveh, it is very likely he started out non-observant and knows exactly what you are going through!. If you are a little squeamish about going when there are many people around you, go during the day. Most mikvehs are open from around 5AM to noon, but you can call them to find out for sure. This act is a very empowering act. It gives you tremendous energy to attack the day. It is a great opportunity to perform a tikkun on your soul, and to bring Holy sparks to all of Am Yisrael from the light your tsuva.
Prayer is a very powerful tsuva for the sins of pgam haBrit. The Shema is a very strong tikkun for the soul. When you feel as if you are being overcome with sexual thoughts, say the first two lines of the Shema. This is very good in helping you redirect your thoughts.
If you don’t pray every day, consider saying the Shema. It takes a few minutes and you can make it a part of your morning routine. If you can’t read Hebrew, read it in English. If you want to learn to read Hebrew, click here. It’s very easy and as you recite more and more of your prayers in Hebrew, you will feel stronger and more elevated. Don’t be concerned if you don’t know Hebrew at first. Many of the religious are newly observant. It would not surprise me is one out of every four Jews who pray quickly and intensely were exactly like me: when they were in their 20s, they couldn’t recite a paragraph of Hebrew in less than 20 minutes. We all go through this. It’s perfectly fine. In fact – it’s better than fine! After all, according to the exertion comes the reward.
The bedtime shema is one of the more difficult mitzvoth to perform because when you say it, you are dead tired and all you want to do is go to bed. It is very tempting to mumble it quickly and roll into bed. It is an even bigger temptation to, Hashem forbid, skip the prayer all together. This may sound a little extreme, but at 11:30 at night when you are consumed by exhaustion, those voices inside you that suggest you close your eyes for a couple of minutes and then recite the Shema sound very convincing. Believe me, at 11:30, you never rest your eyes for just 2 minutes! The difference between mumbling the shema quickly, and reciting it thoroughly is a matter of minutes. I suggest reciting an interlinear version and going over the English word before you recite the Hebrew word. It only takes a couple of minutes and you say this prayer with greater intensity. We are rewarded not merely by how many mitzvoth we do, but by the amount of effort we put in when doing them. To fight total exhaustion and recite the shema with focus and devotion is to really exert yourself for Hashem. It is your last opportunity of the day to strengthen the light of Hashem into the world.
Rabbi Nachman of Bretslov states that if one says Tikkun HaKlali and goes to a mike on the day after he has a nocturnal emission, he has nothing to worry about.
What is tikkun haklali?
Tikkun HaKlali means General Rectification. It is a series of ten psalms that is intended to rectify all of the sins in our life, specifically the sins of pgam habrit. These psalms have the ability to purify the soul on every level. Going back to my previous example about jogging with a broken leg. Once you start going to a mikveh, you are ‘spiritually’ repairing your leg and improving your ability to run.
Tikkun HaKlali has a similar effect. It is a great way to heal your soul. As you heal your spirit, you are able to truly realize what you are capable of.
Many medical researchers claim we utilize only 10% of our intellectual abilities. The Zohar states that every physical part of our bodies represents something about our soul.
This begs the question. What if we are only utilizing only 10% of our spiritual abilities?
The soul is the backbone of the will, and our determination to act defines the impact we make in this world. As we journey through our existence, how much life do we leave on the table?
The general rectification of Tikkun HaKlali consists of psalms are 16, 32, 41, 42, 59, 77, 90, 105, 137, and 150. You will be amazed at the impact this daily reading will have on your life. If reading all 10 psalms is too much, try reading one or two a day. You can use an interlinear siddur and read them in Hebrew and in English. Understand what you are saying to Hashem in your prayers and mean it! One psalm with full focus and intent can be just as effective as 10 psalms said in haste just before you’re late for work.
When I started to learn the laws of Shmirat HaBrit, I began to recite the tikkun haklali every day. As I did this, everything in my life changed. I went from sleeping 8 hours a day to sleeping 6 hours a day. My mind was clearer, and I had more time in the morning for learning. Even at the end of an 18 hour day, I wasn’t tired at all. I thought it was all because I was adhering to the laws of shmirat habrit. It never occurred to me that a big part of it was the reciting of these psalms. I recited these psalms every day. After a while of this, I did what many people do after a big spiritual victory – I became complacent. I only recited these psalms a couple of times a week. Then I got outright lazy. I stopped reciting tehillim. Nothing happened immediately, but I started getting up a little later. One morning I would press the snooze button once, then the next morning, I would press it twice. The next thing I knew, I didn’t have enough time to learn in the morning. I got very frustrated. I figured that the one aspect of my daily life that had changed was the recital of these prayers. The next day I made sure to recite them. The day after that, I started to get up on time again. The Psalms of Tikkun HaKlali are powerful and they work. These psalms also perform a great tikkun for all of Am Yisrael.
The Torah states that every Jew can be like Moshe or Joshua.
That’s a pretty strong statement.
Moshe was the greatest prophet whom ever lived. He was the only man who spoke to Hashem face to face. He transmitted the Torah from Hahsem to the Jewish People. Yehoshua conquered the Land of Israel. He was Moshe’s student. The sea split for both of these men.
How can we be even compared to these great prophets, let alone told that we can be their equal? Moshe and Yehoshua set a great standard for every Jew to follow in that they realized their complete potential. All of the potential energy in heaven that Hashem made available to Moshe and Yehoshua, they utilized in this world to the fullest. The Torah is telling us that we have the same opportunity as them. With each positive act, and every tikkun, we take more energy from heaven and strengthen our souls in this world. With this energy our emotional, mental, and physical capabilities are enhanced. We go from using 2% of our souls, which enable us to exist, to using 4% or 5% of our souls, which enable us to make a difference in ourselves, the people we love, Am Yisrael, and the entire world. How do you think Moshe was able to go forty days without food or drink? What about those holy tzaddikim whom sleep only 2-3 hours per day? What about the Yeshiva students who learn for 18 hours straight? The soldiers of Jewish armies past who defeated legions of thousands with merely a platoon of a hundred men?
How did they accomplish these “superhuman” tasks?
They were all holy men. They strove to be like Moshe and Yehoshua by utilizing their full spiritual potential.
Men like Moses, Joshua, David, and Salomon are not simply characters in a story. They are our blood. They are Jews like us. They lived their lives under the same rules as we do. They could leap beyond their own selves to become the people they were put on this earth to be.
So can every one of us. In fact, this is the primary purpose of our existence.
Along with reciting different prayers to protect against the sin of pgam habrit, there are also kavanot, or intentions we can do during the already existing prayers. The Amidah is one of the central prayers of the daily prayer service. One of the prayers inside the Amidah is directly related to the tsuva for shmirat habrit. Part of the Amidah called the Kibbutz GaLooyot, or the prayer for the ingathering of the exiles. It is a prayer to Hashem that He end the Jewish exile and bring Jews from all over the world to the Land of Israel. On a deeper level, it is a prayer for all of the holy souls that we have sent into exile ourselves by the act of spilling seed. The prayer to bring home the exiles is not merely for all of us physically. Spiritually, it is for all of our children who we exiled to the forces of evil. We beseech Hashem to rescue them from their evil captives, and ingather them to their source.
It is important to remember that the first major exile from the Land of Israel was a direct result of our sexual sins. Recite this prayer with a focus on tsuva for your own actions, as well as for the actions of Am Yisrael as a whole. The prayer is very special and indicative of a Jewish prayer in that we don’t pray for ourselves, but for each other. The words of the prayer talk about all of our sins, not just our individual ones.
T’Kah B’Shofar GaDol L’Heirutaineu, Blow the great shofar for OUR freedom, V’sa nes l’kabaytz g’louyoteinu, raise a banner to gather OUR exiles, V’kabtzeinu yachad me’arba kanfot haaretz, and gather US TOGETHER from the four corners of the earth. Baruch Ata Hashem, Mekabaitz needchai amo Yisrael. Blessed are You Hashem, who gathers in the dispersed of His Nation Yisrael.
This prayer is a plea not only for yourself, but for all of your brothers and sisters, the Jewish People. When we ask Hashem to forgive our sins and to rectify their damage, we are asking that He do this for all of Israel. If we focus on rectifying all of our sins both individual and national, we are not only doing a tsuva for the sin that caused the first great exile, we are also doing a tsuva for the sin that caused the last great exile, the sin of baseless hatred. What can be a greater expression of love for your brothers and sisters that to ask Hashem to forgive them for their sins and to end their suffering?
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