Let My People Know

"To contemplate God's greatness, one needs, besides mental acuity, to know what to contemplate"


One way to reach love and awe of God is through intellectual meditation and absorption in the knowledge of God.

Obstacles arise, though, and foremost among them is a limited intellect.

This is not necessarily an assessment of one's entire capacity; it could be a deficiency specifically in the knowledge of God, an inability to grasp such abstract matters. 

Another stumbling block is a lack of information. 

To contemplate God's greatness, one needs, besides mental acuity, to know what to contemplate. 

Perhaps the person has not studied and acquired knowledge. 

Or maybe the problem is that what he knows has little to do with his life. 

He is acquainted with the concept and has read about it, but it remains foreign to his experience, resistant to his attempts to personalize it in any substantial measure.

One person lacks knowledge of God.

Another lacks "heart" -– he cannot get past his intellect to the place where meditation becomes feeling. 

His contemplation may remain forever grounded in intellect, divorced from emotion. 

Much has been written regarding the passage connecting mind and heart and about the resulting flaw when this passage is blocked. 

It is a narrow transit way, corresponding to the throat in the human body, and subject to distortion. 

Our spiritual experience is an interactive chain of events. 

Thoughts focus on a topic and create imagery.

Images develop and expand to influence emotion and energize action. 

Between the passages in this chain from initial thought to feeling and deed, the constriction of the throat –otherwise referred to as "Egypt" — is one of the primary obstacles. 

The blockage stems from man's connections to his body and the body's desires.

As long as our thoughts of the greatness of God remain in the realm of theory, these connections pose no problem. 

But when they hover too close to emotional realization, they threaten the tranquility of the nefesh, its web of relationships and agreed — upon compromises with the body.

In response, various forces attempt to halt or restrain the energy flow. 

Behind them, backing up the throat's constriction, stands Pharaoh himself. 

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From Learning from the Tanya, p. 95, by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz