David beseeches God: “Who can understand errors; cleanse me from hidden things” (“שגיאות מי יבין מנסתרות נקני”). Errors are unintentional sins. But what are “hidden things”?
An error is a mistake, a miscalculation of the mind (a relatively “subjective” error), or a misevaluation of a situation (a relatively “objective” error; some commentaries call this second type of error a “hidden thing”). As to “hidden things,” there are three basic interpretations:
- A negative expression (whether in thought, word, or action), unnoticed even to oneself, motivated by a subconscious desire or fear.
- A fully conscious negative thought, known to oneself but hidden from other.
- An intentional sin done in private (hidden from the eyes of others).
The Ba’al Shem Tov’s three-stage paradigm of Divine service and spiritual rectification – submission, separation, sweetening – applies well to the three types of “hidden things.”
The only way into our subconscious is through submission. It is the ego that blocks access to the subconscious. When our initially exaggerated ego is subdued we become sensitive and aware of our subconscious motivations and able to deal with them.
Separation is the innate power of our soul to cut off negative “foreskin,” to circumcise our heart. We become able to control our thoughts and make sure to always “think good” (never to leave our mind empty; emptiness invites negativity).
Finally, sweetening is in action (which also includes speech) – a continual increase in the flow of our good deeds towards all (towards God in keeping those commandments which are between man and God, and towards man in abundant benevolence to our fellow man).