Kabbalistic Approach to Spiritual Growth: Part 53 – The Pursuit of Balance

A Kabbalistic Approach to Spiritual Growth

The task of "pursuing peace" is, in some ways, the most essential of all the educator's analytical tasks. Therefore, if the educator lacks the time, maturity, or ability to perform a comprehensive analysis of his student's negative, positive and borderline attributes, he should at least concentrate on reinforcing and strengthening the positive. This technique, in and of itself, has tremendous possibilities for developing character and can eventually bring about a complete rectification of the student's personality. When good is nurtured and strengthened, it grows and begins to take up "more space," nudging out the negativity, or sweetening the bitterness that blocks its way. Thus, while it is most efficient to work on all three fronts, where this is not possible, the educator should specialize on fortifying the good.

There is another way that this concept of "pursuing peace" appears which reinforces its priority as a strategy. The great first century teacher, Hillel said: "Be among the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving people and bringing them closer to Torah."  In this context, pursuing peace means to actively involve oneself in the effort of peacemaking–of resolving conflicts between people and alleviating distance between individuals and God. "Pursue" means to "leave one's place" and to help others who are elsewhere. This effort benefits both giver and receiver alike. The very act of concern both helps to solve the problem and fortifies the peacemaker's preexisting love of humanity. This side-effect, which reflects positive benefit back to the peacemaker, fulfills the original premise that categorized "pursuit of peace" as good.

Fixing a behavior or personality trait means changing one's inner relationship to God. There are two primary modes of serving the Creator: as a servant and as a child. A servant is obligated to submit to his master's will. Though he should be motivated by affection, nonetheless his primary motivation is derived from fear. A child, on the other hand, serves his or her parent out of love and sense of gratitude toward them, as the Zohar says: " . . . a child strives for the sake of his father and mother, whom he loves more than his own body and soul . . ." The process of rectification is the process of adding love to fear, and elevating one's service from that of a servant to that of a child. We must realize that we are all children of God and that our obligation to fulfill God's commandments does not make us servants, rather it is an obligation of the child to his or her parent. Fear precedes love and is the necessary foundation for love, but once love is added, the fear must become subservient to it.

Good exists as a balanced expression of love and fear. Nevertheless it is often contaminated with self-consciousness, and this is its point of separation from God. That which is separate requires pursuit, and forceful unification with its source, so that it can better serve the ultimate purpose of revealing God's unity in the physical world.

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