Getting to Know Your Imagination - 005 Connecting To The Unlimited
The Heart Contains Middos and Medameh/Imagination
Previously, we spoke about the imagination which our mind is capable of. Now we will speak about a different source of imagination – our heart.
Our heart is the source of our middos and emotions, but it is also a source of imagination. The yetzer hora (evil inclination) resides in the heart of a person, and it is essentially the power of evil imagination, which uses the middos of the heart to execute it. The heart’s power to imagine also gets fueled on by the imagination of the mind.
Imagination of the heart is thus made up of these two factors – middos (which has the same root letters as the word “medameh”, imagination), and the imagination stemming from the mind.
The Difference Between The Mind and The Heart
The imagination of the mind and the imagination of the heart are two different kinds of imagination. Let us explain the difference.
The mind’s imagination works to compare information, using the ability of Binah. It doesn’t come up with new information; it merely serves to compare information. It can definitely come up with information as a result of comparing the information, (similar to how a man and woman get married, and then produce a child from their union; the man represents Chochmah, while the woman represents Binah), but in essence, the mind does not produce new information.
The heart’s imagination, however, imagines totally new information. A person’s middos are present in the heart, and the imagination of the heart fuels on the middos and expands them.
When a person has an angry outburst, for example, his middah of anger is fed by the imagination, and thus the person reacts negatively.
The Heart’s Imagination Comes Up With “New” Things
Middah means “measured”, but when imagination affects a middah, the middah then breaks its measurements. This is what we recognize as the bad middos – a middah that has gone beyond its limits.
The mind compares information and makes sure not to exaggerate the information. But the heart uses imagination to break the rules of the middos – exaggerating the middos and coming up with “new” middos.
The Desire To Connect To The Unlimited: Good or Evil
Imagination, in essence, is a desire to leave one’s human limits and enter into the unlimited. It is about breaking the rules and limits of man. The root of all evil imagination is this fact – the desire to break limits and become G-dly. This was really the depth behind the sin of Adam, when the Snake convinced him to eat from the tree so that he would become like G-d. Pharoah declared himself to be G-d, and he represents the deep evil desire of man to break his human limits, to want to be like a G-d.
This desire can be holy when one desires to connect to the Ein Sof, the Endlessness of Hashem. The Torah is also endless (“wider than the sea”), so the desire to connect to the Torah is a desire to connect to the Endlessness of Hashem. Hashem and His Torah are the Infinite which we must connect to.
Hashem created the Torah, and all of us can always come up with new Torah thoughts. The sefer Nefesh HaChaim writes about this extensively - the power to produce chiddushei Torah.
But this power can be used for evil, when it is used for imagination. This is when a person uses his imagination to come up with “new” things which aren’t Torah – when a person attempts to connect to the sphere of the unlimited, and not because he’s trying to connecting to the endlessness of Torah.
This takes place when a person oversteps the limits of his middos. Each middah has its limits, and if these limits are broken, it is essentially the evil imagination at work, because the person is breaking his limits.
Chiddushei Torah – The Way To Connect to the Unlimited
Therefore, the only way to connect to the unlimited – to Hashem’s Infinite Light (the Ein Sof) - is only through His endless creation, which is the Torah. Through using our power of Chiddushei Torah, we refine our intellect, and then we can truly connect to the unlimited. Chiddushei Torah connects our heart with our mind, and then we can use imagination for holiness.
But without Chiddushei Torah, our heart cannot connect with our mind’s ability to imagine holy matters, and we will be left with its evil.
Esav is called Edom, which comes from the word dimayon (imagination). Esav was famished from his day of hunting and demanded to be fed the lentils – in other words, he wanted to go over the limits.
The Depth of Tikkun HaMiddos
Most people have not rectified their minds yet, and are left with the evil imagination present in the heart.
The depth to working to improve our middos is to make sure that we don’t break the limits of our middos. Besides for uprooting the evil in our middos, we need to also rectify the boundaries when they get broken. Thus, fixing our middos is essentially about making sure that we are keeping the middos within their limits.