Due to some University examinations I haven't been able to write the thoughts that I would have liked to jot down here the past few days; I wanted to write about love, and sex(!) and Yom Ha'atzmaut, yet none of that came to fruition, and all the fleeting thoughts I had about these subjects have by now probably boarded a plane to Japan, but I still recall a few thoughts related to spiritual reflection that heard from a (recorded) speech by (someone who I used to listen to more in the past but haven't heard in a while), Akiva Tatz yesterday that I can still write about and reflect upon.
Rabbi Tatz skimmed over his idea about the reality which is repeated in many manifestations throughout the human experience, not least of which being the Judaic experience, in which there is an initial boom or inspiration, followed by a struggle, the end of which being quite difficult and seeming hopeless, followed by a reward or attainment of some kind.
One reality in which this phenomenon is evident is the history of the Jews in the past century: Yesterday marked the day that, a little over half a century ago, the Jews were granted a parcel of land and self government in historical Palestine by it's British protectorates, something the Jews haven't been awarded in quite some time. This event, as it is well known, came after a terrible loss had come upon the Jews in the countries in which they were most populous (the killings in the German "Concentration Camps").
It has become known that when the Allied powers discovered that these civilian killings were taking place, those in charge of the camps sped up the extermination processes as much as possible before the Americans arrived. This, of course, meant that the worst time for people in the death camps were the last few days (especially considering they were not previously aware of the American arrival). Yet after this bleakest of times one of the greatest salivations came to the Jews, with the renewal of their homeland and national strength, the commemoration of which took place yesterday with celebration and thanks to G-d for his many miracles bestowed upon us.
This very same process, it was said, happens not only to עם ישראל as a nation, but to the איש ישראל as an individual as well. First there is, in the hearts of people to whom G-d has called, an initial inspiration and yearning for G-d and good, and they are for but a moment shown a vision of their potential selves if they were to continue on this path. When this inspiration fades, therefore, is the only time one can work with his own hands to make that potential a reality, and the hardest time to do it is after all the challenges one thought were hardest, in the very end. Yet if one is able to hold out till after that trying period, one will reap the luscious fruits of ones potential.
In my eyes it is the same as the attractive individual: Have you ever seen the attractive individual? (*sigh*, here we go with "gender sensitivity"!) There becomes a will in ones heart to become close to this individual, to benefit this individual, all in the hopes of finding grace in the eyes of this individual. Yet what beauty can you behold from this person if you are blind to see that this will is the will of Satan? For it is obvious that the beauty that this person harbors, as well as the accomplishments of any person to whom ample opportunity has been given to them is unearned. I do not respect the beauty and accomplishments of these individuals, for just as the gourd of Jonah which came up in a night and withered in a night, so too unquestionably has and will the beauty and accomplishments of these.
This beauty I speak of, to me, is analogous to spiritual עליות that a person may receive, that are not representative of any labour that one put in to achieve them. No gourd can last for this person if it is not watered daily, only then can one feel glad and confident about any religious or spiritual accomplishments.
Rabbi Tatz mentioned that preventing oneself from sinning is "as painful as death" (אדם כי ימות באהל), and "one must conquer death to achieve eternal life". To me this is somewhat reminiscent of a thought I once had; that in a sense, as far as a person's senses go, "good"(מצוה) is essentially defined by doing things that are painful to oneself and "sin"(עבירה) is defined as doing things that are pleasureful. The definition therefore of doing only good and no evil is experiencing only pain and no relief. Yet it is this pleasure, this animalistic individualism of the Nefesh that must be eradicated if one is to make himself into the "Spirit-Man".
Even after one reaches this plateau of spiritual accomplishment though, not only must one make sure to stay on this plateau, but to strive to new areas of spiritual accomplishment. To me, again (don't think that yawning is inaudible to me!), this is comparable to a suspension bridge; even after all the effort and materials are put in to the bridges construction, all that effort will go to waste if the bridge does not receive proper upkeep. In the case of a suspension bridge, the upkeep is in the form of constantly applying paint to it, so the elements don't crack the paint and corrode the iron, which would ultimately make the bridge fall.
And if ones bridge is securely in place, one will surely be able to build an entire spiritual city, building after building, year after year.
(Don't fret about the lack of coherency; these were very fleeting thoughts).