21 diciembre 2009

A Portrait of the Soul

By Yosef Y. Jacobson

All of the figures depicted in the Torah are not just physical people who lived at a certain period of time. They also embody particular psychological and spiritual forces, existing continuously within the human heart.

Joseph is described in the Torah as a beautiful and graceful lad, "handsome of form and handsome of appearance," and as a "master of dreams."According to the Kabbalah, Joseph symbolizes the pure and sacred soul of man.

What does a soul look like? What elements of our personality can we attribute to our soul?

In the Tanya, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi defines the soul as a flame that seeks to depart from its wick and kiss the heavens. "The soul," he writes, "constitutes the quest in man to transcend the parameters of his (or her) ego and become absorbed in the source of all existence."

The sixteenth-century Kabbalist, Rabbi Elazar Azkari, wrote a prayer which describes the soul in these words: "My soul is sick with love for you; O G-d, I beg you, please heal it by showing it the sweetness of your splendor; then it will be invigorated and healed, experiencing everlasting joy."

The soul, in other words, is that dimension of our psyche that needs not self-aggrandizement, dominance or excessive materialism. It despises politics, manipulation and dishonesty. It is repulsed by unethical behavior and by false facades.

What are its aspirations? The soul harbors a single yearning: to melt away in the all-pervading truth of G-d.

The Abused Soul

Yet, how many of us are even aware of the existence of such a dimension in our personality? How many of us pay heed to the needs of our soul? In response to the soul's never ending dreams and yearnings that confuse our ego-based schedules and disturb our cravings for instant gratification, we so often take the "Joseph" within us and plunge it into a pit. We attempt to relegate its dreams and passions to the subconscious cellars of our psyche.

When that does not work, because we can still hear its silent pleas, we sell our "Joseph" as a slave to foreigners, allowing our souls to become subjugated to forces and drives that are alien to its very identity.

Can you imagine how horrified you would be if you were to observe somebody taking the little adorable hand of an infant and placing it on a burning stove? The Chassidic masters describe each time we utter a lie, each time we humiliate another human being, each time we sin, as precisely that: taking the precious innocent spirituality of our soul and putting it through abuse and torture.

Moment of Truth

Yet, in each of our lives the moment arrives when our inner "Joseph," which was forced to conceal its truth for so many years, breaks down and reveals to us its identity. At that moment, we come to discover the sheer beauty and depth of our soul, and our hearts are filled with shame.

The humiliation the brothers experienced when Joseph revealed himself to them did not stem from the fact that he rebuked them for their selling him into slavery. Joseph's mere appearance to them constituted the most powerful rebuke: For the first time they realized who it was that they subjected to such horrific abuse and their hearts melted away in shame.

Similarly, Rabbi Elazar was saying, when the day will come and we will realize the G-dly and spiritual sacredness of our own personalities, we will be utterly astounded. We will ask ourselves again and again, how did we allow ourselves to cast such a beautiful and innocent soul into a dark and gloomy pit?

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Tomado de Chabad.org

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