The Challenges of Spiritual Growth - אחרי

Thursday, 2 May, 2024 - 8:33 pm

The Challenges of Spiritual Growth: Aspiration, Frustration, Purity 

Striving for spiritual growth is not without its challenges. Attempting to grow can lead to frustration. When a person is satisfied with their spiritual state, they may be stuck in their current condition, but they will not be exposed to disappointment. By contrast, the drive to advance, especially spiritually, may lead to moments of inspiration, enthusiasm, and transcendence, but also to inevitable frustration, disappointment, failure, and setback. 

The Book of Leviticus begins with the laws of offerings, which are an expression of the innate desire of the soul to draw closer to G-d. The book then turns to discuss the laws of purity and impurity, kosher and non-kosher, leprosy on the skin, garments, and home. The person seeking to come close to holiness will inevitably be challenged to overcome the impurity of negativity in this world. He or she will realize that the human being is imperfect, that not every day can one feel inspired and uplifted, and that a person will inevitably feel uninspired and disconnected. The Torah, therefore, sets out the laws of impurity and purity, kosher and non-kosher, to empower the Jew to navigate and ultimately refine a world that contains unholiness and impurity. 

And then, we reach this week’s Parsha, which describes the order of the service of Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. The Torah tells us that even though, while navigating the challenges of life, a person may experience the pain of acting inconsistently with what they know to be the right and moral thing, nevertheless atonement is possible: 

For on this day He shall effect atonement for you to cleanse you. Before the Lord, you shall be cleansed from all your sins. (Leviticus 16:30) 

Yom Kippur teaches that negative experiences and actions do not define us. On Yom Kippur, our inner core is revealed, allowing the external negativity to drift away.

Based on the teachings of the rebbe, Likkutei Sichos 27, Acharei 1

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