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THE CONFLICT BETWEEN SPIRITUAL AND MATERIAL

Four pitfalls to avoid in dealing with phsycial things. * In Moshiach's era, the conflict between the material and spiritual realms will dissolve, and perfect harmony will reign. The material world will no longer obscure the divine presence; rather, it will radiate with holiness. * On the Hayom Yom entry for 5 Menachem Av.

by ChatGPT

“Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” --Tehillim 34:15. The Baal Shem Tov commented: Every physical object whose use is permissible possesses good and evil elements. The material element is evil, and the G dly life-force that gives life to the physical is good. The person utilizing the physical object must "turn from evil" - not desire the physical pleasure which is in its materiality, and "do good," i.e. he should desire to be nourished and supported by the G dly vitality in that object. "Seek peace and pursue it": Whoever fulfills "turn from evil and do good" must seek and pursue means for making peace between the physical and the G dly life-force that vitalizes it.


Here we are guided by the wisdom of the Baal Shem Tov, the beacon of Chassidic thought. He unveils the hidden dance between the material and spiritual realms that reside within every physical object. Permissible objects hold a dual nature, where the material aspect bears potential evil, while the G‑dly life-force within exudes goodness. Embracing spiritual growth requires turning away from mere physical pleasure, seeking instead to connect with the divine vitality inherent in every creation. The pursuit of peace involves harmonizing the material and the spiritual, transforming the mundane into the sacred.


WHY CONFLICT AT THE CORE?

As we navigate the labyrinth of life, a compelling question arises: Why does conflict between the material and the spiritual realms even exist? Shouldn't these two facets be innately aligned, dancing in perfect harmony? Let us venture to explore the core reasons that lead one to neglect the spiritual in favor of the material, and seek the wisdom of Torah to unravel this enigma.


1. The Yetzer Hara - The Inclination for Evil:

Within the human heart resides the Yetzer Hara, the inclinations of evil. "The inclination of a man's heart is evil from his youth" (Genesis 8:21). The Talmud echoes this internal struggle: "Nichnas bo ruach shtus" (a spirit of folly enters him), causing irrational moments where the Yetzer Hara gains control. To overcome this conflict, it becomes paramount to conquer these impulses, elevating our actions to align with the divine will. As the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson emphasized, "Don't be upset by your faults; be aware of them."


2. Immediate Gratification - The Desire for Flesh:

In the wilderness, we find the Israelites yearning for the taste of meat, "Who will feed us meat?" (Numbers 11:4). The allure of immediate physical pleasure can overshadow our spiritual connection with God. The Torah cautions against the lure of instant gratification, reminding us to seek spiritual nourishment above all else. The Talmudic teaching, "A person does not sin unless a spirit of folly enters him," reminds us to rise above impulsive desires and embrace the eternal rewards of spiritual fulfillment.


3. Societal and Cultural Influences - The Allure of Idolatry:

Through history, we witness the influence of idolatrous practices, tempting individuals to forsake God's path. "For they shall turn your sons away from Me to worship other gods" (Deuteronomy 31:16). Cultural pressures may divert our focus from the spiritual, necessitating the fortification of our faith and commitment to God's teachings. The Torah admonishes against idol worship and emphasizes the importance of staying true to God's commandments, for "I am the Lord your God."


4. Lack of Awareness - The Importance of Torah Study:

Knowledge is a guiding light on our journey, and ignorance can cast us adrift. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). Diligent Torah study helps us comprehend the significance of the spiritual realm, preventing an overemphasis on the material aspects of life. The Torah itself is referred to as a "tree of life" for those who grasp its wisdom (Proverbs 3:18), urging us to delve into its teachings to gain spiritual insight.


AN END TO IMPURITY

In the times of Moshiach, the prophecy foretells a transformative era where the spirit of impurity will dissipate from the land. "And I will remove the spirit of impurity from the earth" (Zechariah 13:2). As we aspire to reach that time of ultimate redemption, we must heed the lessons learned from the Baal Shem Tov's teaching and Torah's wisdom.


In Moshiach's era, the conflict between the material and spiritual realms will dissolve, and perfect harmony will reign. The material world will no longer obscure the divine presence; rather, it will radiate with holiness. The Yetzer Hara will be vanquished, and mankind will be free from the impulses that lead us astray.


Our quest for immediate gratification will be replaced by a profound connection to the divine vitality that permeates all of creation. The allure of idolatrous influences will be cast away, and societal pressures will no longer cloud our spiritual focus. In this wondrous age, knowledge and understanding of God's truth will abound, guiding us to embrace our spiritual essence and purpose.


With the arrival of Moshiach, we will witness the unification of the material and spiritual realms. The physical world will serve as a vessel for the divine, elevating every aspect of existence to sanctity. As we draw closer to that redemptive era, let us internalize the teachings of Torah and the wisdom of the Baal Shem Tov. May we actively pursue peace, seeking harmony between the material and spiritual aspects of life.


As we embark on this transformative journey, let us remember that redemption is not a distant dream but a palpable reality within our reach. By embracing the lessons of the past and aligning ourselves with the divine will, we pave the way for a future where "ruach hatuma" - the spirit of impurity - will dissipate, and Moshiach's light will illuminate the earth. Let us join hands in our collective pursuit of spiritual wholeness, hastening the day when Moshiach's reign brings everlasting harmony to our world.

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