We are nearing the end of the month of Elul (Virgo), where we have been going through a process of teshuvah, looking back at the negative actions we have done, seeing what we can do to correct them, and feeling the pain of the sparks of Light we have given over to the Negative Side. During this process, it is important also to talk about the joy we need to have regarding the negative things we have done.
It says in the Zohar, in the portion Bo, that an individual should know the good things and do positive actions, but also know and do negative actions, and then bring himself back to the good path. It is a very interesting statement from the Zohar, recommending that a person do good things, bad things, and then bring himself back to the good. Why does the Zohar want us to do negative things? Why does it say to know the good, know the bad, do positive actions, do negative actions, and then bring ourselves back to the path of good?
The Midrash tells us that when the Israelites stood at Sinai, they said to the Creator, na'aseh v'nishma, “Whatever You tell us, we will listen, we will do. We will do, and we will listen.” However, that was actually a lie, because in their hearts, they did not mean to completely accept that task. The Israelites said words of acceptance, but in their own hearts were not ready and willing to do so. The Creator knew, of course, what was in their hearts, and that what they were saying was not true, yet still says, “May they merit to stay in this state forever,” which makes it sound as if the Creator believed their lie. So, not only does the Creator not call them out on their lie, but it is also as if He supports it by telling them they are on such an amazing level now, may they stay on that level forever.
We have to go a little bit deeper to understand what’s going on here. When we have fallen, when we have done actions of negativity, of Desire to Receive for the Self Alone, of selfishness, we did actions that took the Light of the Creator and put It in places of darkness. How were we able to do that? It’s very simple. We did not believe the Creator was there. Because if we really believed the Creator was there with us there would have been no way we would ever do that action. Real teshuvah is us coming to the realization that even when we were in that filth, even when we did that action, we were not there alone; not only was the Creator there with us, but the Creator was actually supporting us through that action, holding our hand.
So, why was it as if the Creator was playing along with the lie of the Israelites at Sinai? The answer gets deeper and more beautiful; even though the Israelites said, “Whatever You say, we are completely committed,” while in their hearts they were not completely committed and therefore fell at the Golden Calf, the Creator saw who they really were. On one level, probably on the level of their consciousness, they were in a dark place. Although their mouth was willing to say they were committed to this path, their heart was not there. However, on a deeper level, their true soul and essence, even in that darkness, even in that filth - even though they probably could not feel it - was really willing to do it. And so, when the Creator says, “I accept your words, and I wish for you to stay in that place,” the Creator was not talking to the level of consciousness they were at right then, but rather, to the true perfection of who they are.
When we fall, the Creator is there with us in that darkness, knowing that is not really us. And even in our lowest moments in the lowest of places and the lowest of actions that we do, the Creator is there helping us, knowing that is not us, because the Creator knows who we are, always. Real teshuvah, therefore, is when we are able to look back into an action and say, “There was a shell of darkness covering up who I really am, and the Creator loves me so much that even in that darkest place not only was the Creator there with me, but He also supported me through it. Why? Because even there the Creator saw me for who I truly am, for the greatest of my soul, for the perfection of my soul.” That’s teshuvah; to come to a realization of how much the Creator loves us and how much the Creator is connected to us. When we go back to think about an action and come to the realization that the Creator was there with us in the darkness, then we reveal Light in that darkness, and actually make it so that there was never any darkness there at all. In so doing, we also connect to who the Creator saw when we were there - our perfected self.
We need to go back to those places of darkness and see the Creator there helping us, realizing how much love the Creator has for us, realizing how connected we are and how the Creator sees our perfection, even in the filthiest, dirtiest, lowest places. Because even there the Creator sees us for who we truly are, when, obviously, we did not see ourselves in that place at that time. And when we come to that place, when we can see that action and see the Creator there, see what the Creator saw with us there, and see that he is helping us do this negative action, we turn that action into Light. Part of it is realizing how amazing it is that the Creator is even willing to create a scenario where we think He is not there.
Even when we did the most negative of actions, in all of those places, the Creator was with us, because He saw our perfected self, when we did not. We need to go back to that place and realize that the Creator was there, and created for us such a scenario where we imagined darkness, imagined He was not there, and therefore, allowed ourselves to fall. The Creator was there, the Creator saw it, and the Creator loved us. Why? Because the Creator saw our perfected self then, as He sees our perfected self now.