The foundation of Kabbalah as it is explained through the lens of Chassidut is the refinement of human character. With the benefit of the perspective of time, Chassidut sees the Kabbalistic framework, in all its complexity, as a vision of the supernal image of man, from which a program for the refinement of real-world human beings can be constructed. Looking at ourselves from the viewpoint of Chassidut, it is not only who we currently are that is of interest, but more importantly that which we may possibly be. The teachings of Chassidut are meant to help us not only envision our possible self, but more importantly to chart a course to manifest that vision in reality. To become that possible self, it is first necessary to heal our emotional wounds.
As we have discussed sporadically in our articles on the commandment of Challah, everyone’s emotional realm is by nature, wounded, as this is the psychological meaning of the Breaking of the Vessels and the World of Chaos, as described in Kabbalah. On top of those natural wounds, life takes its own toll, placing additonal burdens on our hearts. Eventually, for most people, the only way to function normally is by altogether ignoring the heart and, at least in public, put on a facade of “correct behavior.” However, in private, and to those close enough, we are willing to acknowledge that inside the pain continues to grow and it seems as if there is no real solace possible. Many people seek out psychological treatment, which is in most cases just makes the pain bearable by allowing a person to talk about it.
Chassidut does offer a path for healing. This unique path was introduced by the Ba’al Shem Tov and developed into a method by the first Rebbe of Chabad, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi. The path lies on the foundational recognition that together with our wounded heart (the seat of what in Chassidut is called the “animal soul”), we have been given a Divine soul, whose primary seat is in the mind. Unlike the animal soul, the Divine soul has no wounds and is the gift of the Almighty to every single Jew to allow us to heal and rectify our shattered emotions/animal soul. Once a person has learnt how to identify with his or her Divine soul, whcih literally means redefining who and what he or she is, the lowly stature of the animal soul and broken emotions take on a completely different meaning.