Translated by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum
THE SAD TZADDIK
It is very bad to be sad all the time, and one should do everything possible to avoid it. Try to inject enthusiasm into your life. Encourage yourself by remembering that every single movement and gesture you make toward s serving God is very precious in His eyes, even if you advance no more than a hairsbreadth. In this world, the World of Action, man dwells in a body. This makes every single forward movement extremely difficult, and that is why each one is so precious in God's eyes.
It is told that a certain Tzaddik was overcome with a terrible sense of sadness and heaviness. It is very hard indeed when sadness and heaviness take hold of a Tzaddik, because they attack him ever more strongly.
Eventually this Tzaddik fell into such a mood of deep discouragement and heaviness that he found it literally impossible even to move . He wanted to encourage himself and pull himself up, but nothing could make him happy or inspired. No matter what he tried to be happy about, the Evil One found some reason to make him depressed about it. Eventually he could find nothing to be happy about, because whenever he tried to be happy about something , he found in it something to make him depressed.
Finally he started trying to make himself happy by dwelling on the fact that "He did not make me a heathen." This is certainly a reason to feel immeasurable joy, because the vast gulf between the holiness of even the simplest Jew and the impurity of the heathens is beyond all measure.
When a person thinks of God's kindness to him because "He did not make me a heathen," he should feel ever-increasing joy - a joy that is not mixed with any sadness.
When someone tries to make himself happy over a personal achievement of some kind, he can always find a reason to be unhappy. No matter what he may have achieved, he will always find shortcomings and deficiencies which stop him from pulling himself up and feeling perfectly happy.
However, not to have been created a heathen is a gift of God alone. God Himself did it - He had mercy on the person and did not make him a heathen. How could anything be lacking in this joy since it is exclusively the work of God? Regardless of what kind of Jew the person may be, there is certainly an immeasurable difference between himself and the heathens.
The sad Tzaddik started making himself feel happy about this. He started rejoicing and raising himself little by little. With each passing moment he felt ever greater joy. until he reached such a level of joy that he attained the joy Moses experienced when he ascended to receive the Torah.
As the Tzaddik raised himself and rejoiced, he flew thousands and thousands of miles through the upper worlds. Suddenly, he took a look at himself and saw that he was far, far away from the place where he had been at first. He felt great anguish over the thought that he might fall somewhere and the local people would be very surprised that he had suddenly disappeared.
A Tzaddik always wants to walk modestly, and his happiness began to subside, because happiness has its limits. It starts and then it comes to an end. When his happiness began to subside, it subsided little by little, and he descended little by little.
As he descended from the place where he had flown in his ecstasy, he did not return to his original place by the path he took when ascending . Rather, he dropped straight down from where he was. He was therefore very surprised to discover that he had returned to his original place.
Understand this well: When he looked at himself, he saw that he was actually in the very place in which he had been at first. He had not moved from there at all, except perhaps by a slight hairsbreadth - for no human can measure anything so exactly. God alone knows.
The Tzaddik found it amazing that he had flown so far through so many different worlds, yet here below he had not moved from his place at all. This was a lesson to him that even the tiniest movement one makes to edge forward and advance slightly in this world, even if less than a hairsbreadth, is so precious in God's eyes that even millions of miles and millions of worlds cannot compare with it.
This may be understood when we view this material world as the center point of the planetary spheres. All the more so in relation to the higher spiritual worlds, the entire earth is certainly considered as no more than a tiny point.
From this point you can draw as many lines as you wish in any direction. Where the lines start extending out of the point, they are all very close to one another. But the further they extend from the point, the further apart they become. When the lines are very far away from the point, the lines are also very far apart from one another despite the fact that, close to the point itself, they are very near to each other.
Imagine lines stretching from this lower world only so far as the planetary spheres. Even if a person moves no more than a single hairsbreadth from the place where he was in this world, on the level of the planetary spheres there is an enormous distance - millions of miles - between the place that was above his head at first and the place above his head now. The distance is in proportion to the size of the highest sphere as compared with this world down below. For the highest sphere contains stars without number, and every star is the size of this world or more.
How much more so when one imagines these lines extending even further, beyond the spheres of the planets and stars to the higher spiritual worlds, compared with which all the spheres of the planets and stars are considered nothing.
Even the tiniest movement of less than a hairsbreadth that a person makes here in this world thus causes an immeasurably greater movement in the higher spiritual worlds. Even though in this lowly world the person may feel he has hardly moved at all, because it is impossible to measure the distance he moved and only God knows, nevertheless in the higher spheres he has moved through thousands and thousands of worlds and miles. How much greater, then, is the distance one moves in the higher worlds when he advances a whole mile or more in the service of God in this world.
By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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