What I’d like to speak about now is another article I’d like to paraphrase, and throw in a little of my own, based mainly on another article by Tsvi Meyer Zilberberg. It’s an article about Ratzon, about Will.
You’ll see in the course of it how it applies to this particular time of year. And it begins like this:
Ratzon is a principle in life which is one of the most fundamental principles in spirituality in general. The idea of Ratzon is that it can get us through difficult situations as no other human characteristic can. And that’s why it’s connected, more or less, to these three weeks right now.
It is the inner motivation or intention of all service of G-d, in all types of ways. It’s to have that inner juice or motivational motor that drives us through things that are difficult to have happen.
In Hebrew, the holy tongue, there are many, many similar words to Ratzon which show how central it is to Jewish mystical thought. So, I’m going to transliterate a few of these words in Hebrew to show you how many words are similar to it.
Besides the word Ratzon, we have the words “chafetz,” and “chashek,” as well as “tzimaon,” which sort of means “thirst,” but it’s also a type of Ratzon.
We have the word “kivui,” which is kind of a hope, which is a kind of Ratzon as well. We have “teavon,” which is also a kind of thirst.
We have the word, “cheshek, and “chamid,” and we also have many more to show how fundamental Ratzon is to the whole spiritual experience.
We have different ways of achieving Ratzon, and one way is to project something we intend to take upon ourselves, something we will make happen. It’s sort of like the idea of my graduation speech. And my once-a-week clearing, as well as once-a-month and once-a-year assessment of achievement. And also what I hope to achieve in different aspects of my life, such as faith and trust and Divine Providence and clinging to G-d.
Ratzon has to do with anything and everything we want to accomplish in our lives. We need to get that impetus going in order to have it. Ratzon can be accessed through studying the events, the highlights of our lives.
Ratzon is a very elevated aspect of spiritual work. It can break all the restrictions, everything that has to do with nature. When we connect with Ratzon in a deep enough way, there’s nothing that can stand in the way of our Ratzon.
We live in a place called the Olam, which is the world, and in Hebrew the word means “hidden.” The truth is hidden in this world, the truth of reality. So, therefore, in this world Ratzon has no value to most people. They can’t trade in Ratzon for monetary value, the value of their own work. With some exceptions, teaching seminars, etc, but in general, only the results speak, not the desire. In spirituality the exact opposite is true. Ratzon makes things happen, it is behind everything.
One of the reasons is because it is one of the highest of the Sefirot, and it’s what makes everything happen in the world Sefirotically. All of the Sefirot, all of the character traits one can experience will follow suit because of Ratzon. Both the inside of us and the outside of us is opened up when we open up Ratzon.
Since it’s so powerful in the spiritual world, therefore the Yetzer Hara, the evil impulse will do everything in its power to uproot it. The mortal enemy of the Jewish people, which is Amalek, does everything in his power to uproot Ratzon , also called the “beginning of all things.” Ratzon is the beginning of all processes and represents the root level, so that’s where destruction is aimed. That’s what they do and that’s what the Yetzer Hara, the evil impulse does as well. It’s because Ratzon is so important.
Our Sages tell us that a person who comes to purify himself receives help. And they say that in the way a person wants to go the person who wants to purify herself is helped “by them.” So, why does it say, “by them,” in the plural… Who are “they” that are helping? We learn an incredible lesson which reveals that every time we have a desire for a positive thing it creates an angel. So, a person should know that every new desire or will towards something positive is not there by itself, fending for itself alone. It’s actually something much more powerful than a one-time Ratzon.
It’s a Ratzon joined with all the other angels of all the other times we wanted to make something happen in our lives. Every Ratzon is joined with all the other Ratzons we have in that same area.
According to the SefirYetzirah, we are in the months of Tammuz and Av, which represent the two eyes. Eyes, among other parts of the body are seen to be instruments of Ratzon, of yearning, and of looking towards something beyond themselves. This is part of the time we’re in now. We’re in a time period of the three weeks when all those who chase G-d get to G-d during this time.
Everything is a function of Ratzon, of desiring as well. When we chase we get to what we need to get to. When a person declares that they will have something that they want, that falls almost in the category of a vow. When a person declares a vow they are co-creating with G-d a reality. Our Torah promises that everything that comes out of a person’s mouth they will make happen, or it WILL happen.
So, there’s power in that type of Ratzon as well.
A story is told of an incredible person who lived in Jerusalem in a previous generation, and it was not a well-known person, but there was a community of fairly simple people who wanted him to give them encouragement, and they wanted him to speak to them every erev Shabbat, every Friday afternoon.
He agreed, of course, and he loved to give and he enjoyed the opportunity to give them encouragement. The story took place in the middle of the summer, right around this time of year, that he showed up and nobody else showed up to hear him speak. But he said it was not his concern that nobody else was present, and he proceeded to give an incredibly powerful, impactful teaching to an empty synagogue. When he finished, there still was nobody present in the synagogue.
After a few months he saw a man who had totally gone off the path, to the point he sort of drove the teacher somewhat crazy, which caused him to avoid the man whenever possible. But that man ran up to the teacher, shook his hand and said, “Thank you for transforming my life.”
The teacher asked, “What do you mean by ‘transforming your life’?
“The day you gave that speech to the empty synagogue I was standing outside the window because I wanted to imitate you and make fun of you in front of my friends. But I saw how passionate you were and I understood your message. The words of your heart went into my heart, and they changed my life.”
So, we never know. Even though someone’s Ratzon is directed towards something that doesn’t seem to be helpful at all, we never know what’s actually going to come out of it at the end.
We need to know this is true and we need to know our Ratzon helps us build the Third Holy Temple, and that we have sockets which are collected from the half shekels, and the word shekel has the numerical value of the word “nefesh’, another synonym for Ratzon, as is the word “kesef” which means “money” in Hebrew. It comes from the word “kisufim,” another Ratzon word.
These monetary things we have in our lives also play upon the word Ratzon. G-d showed to Moses a half-sheckel in fire, representing Ratzon, and he wanted the Ratzon of everyone’s contribution. He wanted it to come from a place of Ratzon in order to build the Holy Temple. That’s how the Temple stands, in our Ratzon.
In our last generation here, when people’s ability to think and to know all aspects of humanity are very weak relative to earlier, stronger generations. Every little, tiny bit of Ratzon is very precious in G-d’s eyes.
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