Let My People Know

"Many men do not really know true happiness, because they have never experienced the release from sadness"

A Kabbalistic insight claims: "It is Jacob who redeems Abraham." 

Abraham is Chesed, or love, and Jacob is Tiferet (mercy and beauty). 

One may discover in life that grace is absent and that one cannot awaken love in one's heart. 

Upon such discovery, one falls back on pity, and this stimulates the love and the grace which had been absent. 

This stirring of compassion in the heart awakens great love, even the love of God. 

Here too, the essential confrontation is with Truth, the truth of oneself, and the need to break down the partition or veil that separates one from the Divine.

The Psalmist expressed it: "A broken and contrite heart, O. God, thou wilt not despise" (Psalms 51:19). 

Just as a ladder cannot be useful unless it has something to lean against, so too, is there nothing more whole than a broken heart. 

Even though, to be sure, God prefers vessels that are without blemishes or cracks, and it is written in the Zohar that the Shechinah does not lodge itself anywhere except in a whole vessel. 

Nevertheless, this does not include a broken heart.

As Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi mentions elsewhere: If one does not have a broken and contrite heart, one cannot be said to have a heart at all.

The central factor here is the demolition of sadness, the explosion which releases the joy. 

And many men do not really know true happiness, because they have never experienced the release from sadness. 

It is not a matter of contrasts, of course; it is a matter of getting to the truth of experience, of breaking out of the self-delusion, entertained by many, that they are alive–something that only a genuine shock can bring about. 

For a great number of civilized human beings live comfortably with the notion that they would like to know God; and this is as much of a search for meaning they can indulge in.
They do not get beyond the daily obligations of ethics and religion. 

Their search is, at best, the search for an earthly fortune, a matter of putting effort into something and getting a more or less just compensation. 

However, using the same logic, the story of the rich man who asked the rabbi: "What will I get out of the next life?" 

The rabbi answered: "At least as much as you invest in it." 

If you put a lot of money and effort into an earthly endeavor, you are likely to earn even more; if you put a lot of thought and energy into your spiritual endeavors, you're liable to gain more in the heavenly hereafter. 

The trouble is that men are much more troubled about the loss of a ten-pound note on earth than about losing a spiritual opportunity to perform a kindness.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From The Long Shorter Way by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz