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February 10, 2021  |  Vol. 37

Mishpatim: Maintaining the Soul

This week’s portion relates to the important topic of reincarnation. It reminds us that we are not here for the first time; we have been here before, we committed errors in our previous lives, and our purpose is to correct those errors in this one. It was G-d who put our souls into our bodies, and we should know that they are not here willingly. In a way, they are enslaved to us. They don’t want to be here on Earth, on the material level. Of course they would rather remain at the upper level, where they can stay pure. On Earth, we make our souls dirty through our wrong actions. They must be cleaned before they can return to the Creator, where they truly belong. How do we help them get there? How do we clean our souls? By committing ourselves to a transformation and making changes for the better. The Torah teaches us how.

When we learn about reincarnation, it’s natural to panic. It can be frightening to think about what we have done to our souls. After all, every time we act badly, we cause them damage. But what does it mean to act badly? Sometimes, it can be difficult to know what is right and what is wrong -- especially if we depend on the guidance of contradictory worldly voices. That’s why it’s so important to study the Torah, because this provides us with the ultimate guidebook for living correctly. By obeying the words of the Torah, we can clean our souls, and in doing so we fulfill our purpose. This will allow our souls to return to the Creator at the end of our lives, and this is what we should always be focusing on. Just as we exercise and eat healthily to maintain our bodies, we must study and practice spirituality to maintain our souls.

The Torah tells us that we act badly when we follow our five senses. This does not mean that our senses are bad, just that we must be in control of our them and not the other way around. For example, we have the gift of hearing. This has been given to us. It’s our responsibility to ensure that we make our judgement and listen to the correct things. That means that if we allow ourselves to listen to cruel gossip or eavesdrop on the conversations of others, then we are not controlling this sense. It is controlling us. Similarly, if we use our gift of taste to eat food that is not Kosher, then we are misusing one of our senses. The five senses can be the gateway to Hell if we follow them unthinkingly. They bring many temptations by which we can dirty our souls. 

Another way we do this is by acting selfishly. When we are selfish, we take up the space that G-d needs to give us our blessings. It’s our own actions that deprive us and cause us pain.

In our lives, we often go through pain. We may wonder why we are forced to ensure such suffering, believing that it is unfair. Reincarnation teaches us that pain is not unfair: in fact, nothing in life is actually unfair! When we perceive it that way, it’s because we’re not seeing the full picture.. In reality, any pain that we endure is ultimately positive. It balances the harm we have done and it forces us to learn and become better people.

Love is a powerful force, and when it burns away negative energy it can hurt. This is how G-d’s love may be experienced as pain sometimes. However, we must always remember that our pain serves us. It is not a punishment inflicted by G-d; it is a necessary process that we must go through so our souls can be returned to Him.

Have you ever wished to find your soulmate? Most of us have. But have you ever considered whether your soul is currently worthy of finding its mate? Because this is an important consideration. Until you’ve made positive changes and cleaned your soul, you will not be able to find this person. Your soulmate will continue to evade you. If your previous relationships have been very difficult experiences, this should be signalling to you that you have work to do on yourself before you can enjoy this kind of connection. Of course, when we try to improve, we usually focus on reducing our negative actions towards others. This is the wrong approach.

Before you do this, you must reduce your negative actions toward yourself. Until you have shown positivity toward yourself,, the positivity you show others will not be real. In other words, to heal your relationships with others, it’s imperative to first heal yourself. Think about it -- most of the harm done by your negative actions is actually done to yourself in the end anyway. When you are jealous, who really suffers? You do. When you are angry, who really suffers? You do. So much of our pain is self-inflicted. Cleaning our souls will not just bring our soulmates to us; it will also ease the suffering we experience.

G-d looks for signs that you’ve truly made a change. You should first show that you’re sorry for your bad actions. Then, you will be tested to see if you do this bad action again. If you can resist this and then pledge that you will never do it again, this is the proof needed to show you’ve undergone a transformation. Simply trying to change will break the negative decrees and judgements against you, even before you succeed. This is because there is nothing more beautiful in this world than someone who is trying to change, whether they actually achieve it or not. With this in mind, we must also be supportive and sympathetic towards others in the process of change. Who are we to judge them and hold on to their past? Instead, we should encourage them towards a better future.

Community is an important part of this process. Who you surround yourself with has a huge impact on whether you succeed in making positive changes or not. Be careful! If you’re surrounded by selfish people, their selfishness can be contagious. Instead, you should unite with others who are similarly committed to maintaining their souls. You are always invited to participate in the Vital Transformation community, where we study, practice, and work towards becoming better people. We all have a purpose to fulfill, and it’s so much easier to do it with the support of like minded people.

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