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We Don’t Know

Michael Berg
March 24, 2024
Like 28 Comments 11 Share

This article was originally published in 2020.

The portion Tzav begins with a discussion of the sacrificial offerings, parts of which were burnt throughout the night, and therefore, became ashes. It says that the first thing the kohen, the priests,would do in the morning was take those burnt ashes and put them back into the center of the altar. It's very interesting; what's the purpose of taking the ashes of already burned sacrifices and putting them back onto the altar?

The overall teaching of this is about how little we understand, and it is an important truth to keep in mind all the time; in fact, if we did, we would most likely never have a negative experience. So, what is the truth? That we think we understand, we think we see, but we really see or understand nothing.

“We think we understand, we think we see, but we really see or understand nothing.”

A person brought the sacrifice and saw that it had an effect; it was swallowed up, it says, by the supernal fires. This means the Creator accepted it, and it revealed Light. Most of the sacrifice that was brought was burnt up completely, and that was the elevated part. The other part of it became deshen, the burned ashes. So, a person usually thinks there is Light in what was accepted but not in the ashes that weren’t accepted. Yet, if that were the case, why would the kohen take the ashes and put them back in the altar first thing in the morning?

The answer is the secret of this Shabbat: because, there is nothing that is not the Light of the Creator. The sacrifices accepted are not in any way more elevated than the ashes that were left over. The ashes are brought back to the altar because there are no parts, there is no place that is not of the Light of the Creator.

It is our ego that makes the separation, that decides this is the way it should or shouldn’t be. It is our ego that decides the Light is in one place, but not another. However, the lesson from this teaching is that there is no such thing as a higher action or lower action. When we really understand that the Light of the Creator is everywhere, then there is no distinction between any situation we find ourselves in, because all situations are all of the Light. Any difference we make in our mind is from the ego, but if we are able to remove our ego and all of our attachments, then we come to see that nothing is far away from the Creator; there is nothing that is not completely and wholly of the Light of the Creator equally. It's a very important understanding, and is, as the kabbalists teach, a great gift of Shabbat Tzav.

“There is nothing that is not the Light of the Creator.”

We have to train our minds to know that we have no idea. All the thoughts we have that we know how things are supposed to be, or we know why we are or aren’t in certain situations are not spiritual thoughts; they are the thoughts of the ego. For example, sometimes people travel for work, and think they're going somewhere for a business deal. But the thoughts of the Creator are often not the thoughts that the individual is having. While they may think the reason they are traveling so far away is for business, the Creator may actually have a different plan, or thought, as to why that person is traveling. Why? Because the Creator knows how to fix us better than we know how to fix ourselves. Maybe there's a loaf of bread in a faraway land that has sparks that individual needs for their soul. Maybe the Creator knows that for his correction, that person needs to eat a particular piece of bread, in that city, at that time. We travel somewhere, or are put in a certain situation, because the Creator sees that we need something there for our soul. There is a saying that a person's travels, a person's life, is prepared by the Creator, and now we can understand what that means.

We have no idea why we go places, we have no idea why we stay places… and we want to be living in that consciousness. The only way to get to this is if we are consistently reminding ourselves: “I have no idea. I have some understanding of what I think the spiritual system is, and, yes, I have to live my life based on that understanding. But at the end of the day, I have no idea. And if the Creator comes to me or creates a situation where it's all completely turned upside down from what I thought, then I'm excited about that. I'm happy with that because now I know that this is where the Light of the Creator is for me.”

Why is something happening? We have no idea, and we have to know that. The Light is equally in everything, and there is nothing that is either far away from, or closer to, the Creator. The sacrifice accepted was not higher than the ashes burnt away. They are all of the Light. Therefore, on Shabbat Tzav, we can ask the Creator, "Let me truly live my life with the understanding that I have no idea. That I know that everywhere I go, everything I do, and everything that happens to me is of the Creator.” If we are really able to come to this consciousness, there is nothing that can ever happen that will upset us. There is nothing that could ever happen that will disappoint us, because we always know that we don't know.

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