Letting Go of What You Think You Know
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Letting Go of What You Think You Know

Michael Berg
September 22, 2014

Often what causes us the most pain in life is when something happens that doesn’t make sense. It was not how we planned it, it was not what we wanted to happen, and so we become upset.

On the 2nd day of Rosh Hashanah, we read about what’s called the Binding of Isaac. Kabbalists teach that there were ten tests to elevate Abraham to his ultimate level, and this, the Binding of Isaac, was considered the tenth and most difficult. Why?

Abraham’s entire life was based on only one thing: to bring the Light of the Creator to the world, to spread this wisdom and understanding to as many people as possible. However, he was concerned about what was going to happen after he left this physical world; he wanted to make sure that his life’s work didn’t leave with him. The Creator told him not to worry – that he will have a son, Isaac, and all the work that he had done to bring Light into this world will not end with him, but rather, will continue with his son.

So, Abraham thought there was a plan. But then the Creator tells him towards the end of his life to sacrifice his son. This would mean that his entire life’s work, everything he has built, is going to end with the death of Isaac. This is really a superhuman test, when you’re being told that everything you’ve built your life around is going to be completely finished.

Isaac doesn’t know what’s going to happen, but Abraham does. And Isaac is so happy to be spending time with his father, but Abraham knows that at the end of their three-day trek, everything he’s built his entire life for is going to be destroyed. But it says the joy that Isaac felt being on a spiritual journey with the father he loved so much was the same joy that Abraham felt. How is that possible, that Abraham had joy?

For many of us, when small things don’t go as we have planned, it ruins our day, our week, or even our month. And here Abraham is traveling, at the end of which he knows every single thing that he built his life around is going to be destroyed. And yet it says that they both went with the same excitement and joy. Unbelievable.

How do you get there? How did Abraham get there? It’s actually very simple. We give such importance to what Rav Ashlag calls yedia, knowledge or understanding. We see a situation and assess it a certain way, therefore deciding if it’s good or bad, or if it should make us happy or sad. But, how little do we actually know!?

Ask yourself, is your life based on yedia - what you understand with your five senses - or, and this is the gift of Rosh Hashanah, can you achieve what Rav Ashlag coined certainty beyond logic? To be able to be in a situation where all physical indications and your mind are telling you this is the worst thing in the world, but to still be happy because you know it’s coming from the Creator. This is where Abraham was. He didn’t know why the Creator was telling him to sacrifice his son. But he had certainty beyond logic. And, we know, the Creator ends up telling Abraham to let Isaac go, and Abraham sacrifices a ram instead.

We can all get to this place of certainty beyond logic. How does it start? In the small things. Every day our mind tells us to be upset or sad about this thing and angry at that person. We live our lives with a tremendous appreciation of just how smart we are, that we understand everything and everybody, and make our decisions based upon that. Yedia, understanding, is paramount in our lives, and it runs everything - emotions and actions.

But you know what? There’s going to come a point in your life when your mind is not going to be smart enough to figure everything out. So, you can make the choice today. Do you desire to live your life based on your five sense knowledge, or do you desire to live your life based on the Light of the Creator?

Being able to get to the place of desiring to have certainty beyond logic – and to achieve it- is a gift that’s given to us on Rosh Hashanah, which is also the first day of the month of Tishrei, Libra. You have to make the choice: what do you want your life to be based on? Do you want it to be based on your knowledge, on your brain and understanding based on your five senses, or do you want it to be based on the Light of the Creator? We can ask, on Rosh Hashanah, for the Creator to give us the strength and ability to get to the place of having that certainty beyond logic, always. And when you get there, as Abraham did, there is nothing that can ever upset you again.