“You shall keep My laws and My rules, by the pursuit of which man shall live: I am Hashem.”

Toward the beginning of his Chassidic masterpiece, “Kedushas Levi”, the Berditchover Rav teaches that a primary catalyst for a conscious and inspired avodas Hashem is the awareness that one’s actions have an enormous effect upon all realms of creation.

The Nefesh HaChaim devotes many chapters to expressing the extent to which the entirety of existence is in the hands of man. He writes: “The divine Will granted sovereignty to man, that he should be appointed over opening and closing many thousands and myriads of powers and worlds in accordance with the details of his behavior in all matters, each and every moment, in alignment with the supernal source of his actions, words, and speech – as if he lorded over them.” 

The Torah refers to our holy nation as “the rope of Hashem’s inheritance”. Our actions tug at the bottom end of this rope, sending ripples to its very top which is rooted in the spiritual realms. The Nefesh HaChaim goes on to explain that much like food and drink strengthen the bond between body and soul thus energizing the body with the spiritual vibrancy of the spirit, so do our prayer, Torah study, and mitzvos “feed” the bond between Hashem’s presence and the physical world, filling the world with vitality, blessing, and life-force. Without our avodah, the Shechinah would steadily retreat and the world would grow weaker and weaker until fading away entirely – “were it not for My covenant day and night, I would not have placed the laws upholding heaven and earth.”

The Degel Machaneh Ephraim sees this important idea hinted in a verse from parshas Acharei-Mos. The pasuk states: “Ushmartem es chukosai v’es mishpatai asher ya’aseh osam ha’adam v’chai bahem – ani Hashem”, “You shall keep My laws and My rules, by the pursuit of which man shall live: I am Hashem.” The tzaddik reads these words in a deeper way: “Ushmartem es chukosai v’es mishpatai asher ya’aseh osam ha’adam”: When a Jew embodies the Torah’s ideal for human life in thought, speech, and deed, “v’chai bahem ani Hashem”: he enlivens the bond between Hashem’s presence and the physical world, filling the world with light, strength, goodness, and vitality.

The Torah and Avodah of the Jewish nation enliven every aspect of the physical world.

Rebbe Ephraim of Sudlykov

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R’ Yaakov Klein is the founder of the Lost Princess Initiative, an author, musician, and lecturer devoted to sharing the inner light of Torah through his books, music, and lectures.

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