Tefillah - 017 Living With Clarity
הגיבור – We express how Hashem is the “Mighty One”. This will also be subject of the next blessing, אתה גיבור, “You are Mighty”, in which we devote an entire blessing of Shemoneh Esrei to describe Hashem’s might.
Man can also attain the middah of gevurah\might and come to resemble somewhat the mightiness of Hashem. It is written, “Praiseworthy is the man [gever\gibor\mighty] who suffers.” Chazal say that on average, a person lives for 70 years, and if a person is “mighty”, he lives to be 80 years.
Hashem’s gevurah is expressed in that each day, He overcomes his wrath. Another opinion in the Gemara is that each day Hashem overcomes His ratzon (will). Soon, we will see how this is not the same thing as when Hashem overcomes His anger.
In a person, there are two kinds of gevurah\might. There is gevurah in our mind, as well as gevurah in our heart.
Our mind exercises gevurah when we use it to overcome the emotions of our heart. “The mind controls the heart.” The Rambam describes our middos as “Hilchos De’os”, the “laws of daas”. What is the difference between our daas and our middos? Our middos (character traits\emotions) are present in our heart, while our daas (knowledge) is present in our mind.
When a person only lives superficially, he is only aware of the middos of the heart, and he is unaware of the difference between middos and daas. But when a person gains the inner perspective, he realizes that the inner essence of all our middos is “daas”. As Chazal say, “An ignoramus cannot be pious” – without the proper knowledge of our daas, it is not really possible to have good middos. Thus, daas is really the basis for having good middos.
“The mind controls the heart” – simply, this means that a person can use his yetzer tov (good inclination) to overcome his yetzer hora (evil inclination). But the deeper meaning is, that even Hashem overcomes His middos, as we brought before from the words of our Sages. Hashem’s desires are only good desires – He has no evil desires, chas v’shalom. Yet, Hashem overcomes His middos anyway, even though they are always good middos. This shows us that there is a higher use of gevurah.
A Torah scholar is personified for having the trait of gevurah. The gevurah of a Torah scholar reflects somewhat the gevurah of Hashem. A Torah scholar doesn’t just use gevurah to overcome his yetzer hora. He uses gevurah to give himself an inner order to his soul. A Torah scholar has inner clarity – he knows how to direct each power of his soul and use each of his soul’s abilities in their proper place. That is the higher use of gevurah – when a person uses his daas to gain clarity in matters.
If a person has good middos, but his mind is not so developed, his mind is not directing his emotions. What will happen? He is destructive to the world. The Sages say that there was a scholar, Rav Zecharya ben Avkulas, who was very humble, yet he is blamed for the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, because he was too humble. Our middos, even our good middos, need to have boundaries. The power which directs our middos is called daas. Through daas, we access our higher kind of gevurah, which gives us inner order and clarity, to know how to direct each of our good middos.
One of the Sages said to another, “You see a clear world.” This defines the essence of a true Torah scholar – a person who receives an inner clarity on matters. The depth of a Torah scholar’s wisdom is that he has the higher kind of gevurah, which is that he knows how to give himself inner order to his soul’s abilities and thus have clarity. The kind of lifestyle in today’s generation is a lifestyle that lacks clarity; we do not live in a clear world. This is the situation of exile – we lack clarity. This is the meaning of the statement, “Torah, Torah, wear a sackcloth” – we are missing the clarity to go about life, so it is if the Torah is in mourning.
The power of gevurah is thus to live a life of clarity. There are all kinds of doubts that fill the world – doubts when it comes to our Torah learning, doubts in how to behave, doubts in how to live our life entirely. All of us are filled with various kinds of doubts. In addition, our priorities are often mixed up; things that are supposed to be secondary of importance have become first priority, while things that are really supposed to be more important have become only second priority. Often, acts of chassidus (piousness) are considered to be obligatory and more essential than the actions which are required according to Halacha. This is the opposite of a clear kind of world.
Hashem is the epitome of gevurah\might, as we say in the next blessing of אתה גיבור. Our power of gevurah can only come from Hashem. It is the power to disconnect from all surroundings and instead look at everything through a lens of pure truth, an inner place in the soul that is clean from any impure interests.
We live in an alma d’shikra, a “world of falsity.” Rav Dessler zt”l explained that the entire reality we live in on this world is a false reality, an illusion. Rav Chatzkel Levenstein zt”l said that there are many people who don’t even know what they want at all in their life – that is the kind of false world we live in.