Dear Readers,

Do you see yourself in any of these scenarios?

Your child—or your co-worker—is grating on your nerves, trying your patience, complaining nonstop. Instinctively, you want to lash out harshly or respond sarcastically. Instead, you dig deep within yourself to find a response that is patient, wise and empathetic.

Sara is naturally introverted, and she shies away from any type of public speaking. After her close relative recovered from a serious illness, she was asked to host an event in her home to speak about the recovery process and the organizations that helped along the way. Though it was extremely hard for her, she felt so passionate about the cause that she agreed, digging deep within herself to find the resources.

A mother watched in horror as a large car ran over her toddler, trapping him underneath. Although she had never practiced any weight training—and though the car was far heavier than anything she could ever possibly lift—somehow in that frightening moment, she was able to access a strength beyond her natural self and succeeded in freeing her child.

Every day we battle darkness—emotionally, spiritually, or physically. Every challenge that we face requires us to find within ourselves inner resources, to access our “inner light” deep within.

Chassidic philosophy teaches us that there are three levels within our spiritual makeup.

  • Kochos pnimi’im, the soul’s conscious inner powers. These powers help us respond to a situation that might require our patience or wisdom by using our intellectual or emotional faculties, like the child or coworker example above.
  • Kochos makifim are the soul’s encompassing powers. This is our spiritual potential that transcends the soul’s conscious control, but encompasses and lifts it up. Even here we have two levels 1.) makif hakarov, an encompassing light that is close (i.e., within our reach); and 2.) makif harachok, an encompassing light that is distant, transcendent and bound with G‑dliness, beyond our reach.

The woman reaching beyond her comfort zone to do something entirely uncharacteristic for the sake of a cause that she is passionate about could be an example of the first. The mother who found transcendent strength far beyond her capabilities when it came to saving her precious child could be an example of the second.

There are times when we feel ourselves overwhelmed by such a darkness that we might even feel incapable of fighting this darkness. At such moments, we need to remember that the highest rung—the essential G‑dly potential lying at the core of our soul—can fight the inkiest darkness and access a light that is stronger.

This is the dimension of the soul that is an actual part of G‑d from above. It can never be blemished; it is intact within each of us, regardless of our present level, and always remains untainted.

And if we don’t stand in its way by thinking we can’t, then we can access it, even and especially in our darkest moments.

Chana Weisberg
Editor, TJW