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Our Fears

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Our Fears: We Need to Know and Appreciate Our Greatness

By Michael Berg

This week’s Kabbalah portion concerns the nature of fear, and how fear can have both positive and negative effects on our spiritual growth. Suppose, for example, that you were called upon right now to justify your life before the Creator. How would you feel? Most people, quite understandably, would feel some degree of fear. But as we’ll see, this is by no means a bad thing as long as we understand our fear correctly.

What does your fear tell you? What is the real meaning of your fear? Perhaps it reminds you of things you should have done but didn’t do. It might call to mind the times when you acted out of a narrowly defined self-interest rather than as a truly sharing human being. If you really had to explain your behavior to God, how important do you think desires for yourself alone would suddenly seem? We can use this week’s portion as a tool for getting in touch with the fear we might feel in honestly reviewing our lives. Even more importantly, by connecting with the energy of the portion, we can turn our fear into a motivating force for positive changes in how we live, starting right now.

Kabbalah teaches that each of us will, in fact, appear before a heavenly court when we leave this world. But the court will not be anything like a criminal or civil trial in the physical world. There will be no prosecuting angels reading off a list of our transgressions, nor will there be defense attorneys pleading for mercy on our behalf. The truth is much simpler: when we arrive in the upper world, we will simply be shown the real greatness of our souls. True, for some people, and perhaps for many people, this will be a painful experience. They will see the great spiritual potential that had been theirs, and they will realize how they wasted this wonderful gift. They will look back and think “I had this great treasure and I did not use it the fullest!” This is a somewhat frightening lesson, but also a truly important one. If only we would know and appreciate our greatness -- if only we would see that we are not simply flesh and blood, but that we have a great soul, which is part of the Creator -- we would constantly push ourselves to make the most of that gift

If thinking along these lines arouses a certain fear in you, that fear can be a blessing. Use it as fuel for acts of sharing in the everyday world, and to become a true being of sharing in your heart and your soul. This week’s portion can help us focus clearly on the twin objectives of external action and inner growth. And by meditating on these teachings, we can connect with the spiritual energy that will turn those goals into reality.

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