The Sixties Radical-Azriel

There is a suit we wear that has a life of its own.

It is knitted of the fabric of words, images and sounds, mischievous characters that no one else can see—or would care to know.

You, however, hear them day and night, chattering, buzzing, playing their games in the courtyard of your mind. They are all the threads of the garment of thought that envelops you.

Leave your thoughts to play on their own, and they will take you for a ride to places you never wanted to see.

Grab the reins, master them, direct them, flex your mind, and they will follow. Provide them a script, and they will play along.

Do something quick, because you, after all, are dressed up within them.

Maamar Shoftim 5729. Tanya, chapters 4, 6, 9, 12

The Sixties Radical-Azriel

Judges and officers shall you appoint in all your cities . . . (Deuteronomy 16:18)

Think of yourself as a city. You have four magical gates: the Gate of Seeing, the Gate of Listening, the Gate of Imagining and the Gate of Speaking.

Magical gates, because an Infinite G‑d enters your finite city through these gates. An infinite G‑d who cannot be squeezed within any place or boxed within any definition, but chooses to dress neatly in a wisdom called Torah—and these are your gates by which wisdom may enter.

That is why all the world competes to storm those gates. They want you to see the ugliness they see, hear the cacophony they hear, imagine the nonsense they imagine and speak without end. And then, you will desire all they desire and no room will be left in your city for that Infinite G‑d.

You only need master those gates and the city is yours.

Maamar Shoftim 5729

The Sixties Radical-Azriel

Before you were formed in the womb, your days were numbered and set in place. They are the chapters of the lessons you came here to learn, the faces of the wisdom this world has to teach you, the gateways to the treasures this lifetime alone can bestow.

A day enters, opens its doors, tells its story, and then returns above, never to visit again. Never—for no two days of your life will share the same wisdom.

Hayom Yom, 17 Cheshvan; Naso 5737:6.

The Sixties Radical-Azriel

We count time as though it were money. But in what way is it so?

We can make more money, but we can’t make more time.

Money can vanish in multiple ways, but time cannot be stolen nor lost.

Every penny of our money can be spent or saved, invested or loaned, but time—the hours slip through our fingers, allowing us not the slightest mastery over their incessant stream.

Yet time is utterly dependent upon us for its very being. For if a moment of time enters and is wasted, it has come and gone without meaning. And without meaning, it is a moment that never was.

A coin uncounted is a wasted coin. A moment uncounted has vanished into the void.

11 Nisan, 5742

The Sixties Radical-Azriel

This is a heavy one. Think about it. “G‑d can] forgive premeditated misdeeds, rebellious misdeeds, and unintentional misdeeds. Exodus 34:7

The Hebrew word for “forgive” used in this verse literally means “carry” or “lift.” Based on this, Rabbi Yisrael Ba’al Shem Tov, the founder of Chasidism, taught that G‑d elevates the spark of holiness in the misdeed. Nothing, not even a sin, can exist unless it contains a spark of holiness. When a person repents, G‑d elevates the Divine spark in his misdeed and returns it to its Divine source.

Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of the Chabad branch of Chasidism, explained this idea as follows: It is indeed impossible to elevate a sinful act; such an act is evil, and the only proper treatment for it is to renounce it. In contrast, the power of desire vested in the act is not evil, for it is possible to utilize this power to desire good as well as evil. When we repent properly, we divest our power of desire of its veneer of evil and restore it to its holy source.1Likutei Torah 4:61d.

G‑d then summoned Moses to Mount Sinai for a third 40-day stay. During this stay, G‑d revealed His thirteen attributes of mercy to Moses. By invoking these attributes, it would always be possible to secure G‑d’s forgiveness.”

The Sixties Radical-Azriel

Think about this for a minute. “It is only necessary to negate something that is possible, not something that is impossible. Thus, when G‑d said “My face may not be seen,” He meant that the workings of Divine providence can be perceived, but not directly.

To explain: There are two ways of grasping a concept: by understanding what it is and by understanding what it is not. If a concept is within our sphere of experience, we can understand what it is. If a concept is outside our sphere of experience, we cannot understand what it is, but we can understand what it is not. We mentally remove it from possibility after possibility until, by process of elimination, we gain a glimpse of it.

Thus, G‑d’s statement, “My face may not be seen,” means that we cannot understand Divine providence directly, but we can understand it by negating what we know it not to be.1Sefer HaSichot 5748, vol. 1, pp. 299–300.

Moses asked G‑d further to show Him how everything He does is out of kindness. G‑d replied that it is only possible for the human mind to grasp this “from the back,” i.e., after the fact

[G‑d told Moses,] “You may see My ‘back,’ but My ‘face’ may not be seen.” Exodus 33:23

The Sixties Radical-Azriel

Moshe sacrificed himself in order to have G-d forgive us when some of us worshiped the Golden calf.  G-d agreed. Moshe changed G-d’s mind.

“While Moses was still on Mount Sinai, G‑d told him that some of the people were worshipping the Golden Calf, and that He was planning on holding the entire community responsible for not protesting the misdeeds of this minority. Moses pleaded with G‑d to forgive the people; G‑d agreed only to punish the guilty minority, but insisted that His presence could no longer accompany the people. When Moses saw the people worshipping the Golden Calf, he understood that the Jewish people were not yet ready to receive the Torah. He threw down the tablets on which G‑d had inscribed the Ten Commandments, breaking them. He then ascended Mount Sinai again for another 40 days, during which He secured G‑d’s forgiveness for the people. After descending from his second stay on Mount Sinai, Moses asked G‑d to again let His presence dwell among the people, and G‑d agreed.

G‑d told [Moses,] “My Presence will [again] go with you.” Exodus 33:14

Moses asked G‑d to omit his name from the Torah if He would refuse to forgive the Jews. Moses was willing to sacrifice his connection with the Torah for the sake of his people – all of his people, even those who worshipped the Golden Calf.

We can all emulate Moses’ self-sacrifice for the Jewish people. It is not sufficient to simply fulfill the commandment to “love your fellow as yourself”; we must be ready to sacrifice even that which we hold most dear for the benefit of the Jewish people in general and for every single Jew in particular – no matter how far away he may seem at that moment from G‑d and His Torah.1 Likutei Sichot, vol. 21, pp. 175–7.

The Sixties Radical