"And I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a G‑d; and you shall know that I am the Lord your G‑d, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians." (Ex. 6:7)

This commandment precedes all the other commandments; for the first commandment is to know G‑d, in general, and in particular.(Zohar II:25a)

The verse says, "Know the G‑d of your fathers." (Chronicles I 28:9) That is, ultimate knowledge is to realize that everything that happens to us in life, and in the world around us, is from G‑d. Though this concept is extremely deep, and impossible to explain, there is still a little we can say about it. Everything a person feels or experiences is in the Shechina

A person who has wealth, honor, and blessing in his life, should realize that they come from the side of chesed that is in the Shechina. Because each human being is a "limb" of the Shechina, and the entire world together constitutes its complete form. Likewise, a person who suffers poverty and affliction, G‑d forbid, is experiencing the trait of gevura in the Shechina. And from that place, he must pray to G‑d. This is the meaning of the verse: "With this, shall Aaron come into the holy place." (Lev.16:3) If one feels that both traits are present in his life, he should realize that they derive from the trait of tiferet. This applies to all traits.

A person who one day finds himself unable to serve G‑d, should realize that this too is in the Shechina, and is called "First Smallness", or "Second Smallness." Everything a person feels or experiences is in the Shechina, and he has to know how to unite that trait with the corresponding trait Above.

This is true in general, and in particular; for there are myriads of details in which this applies. A perfected human being can unite the Holy One and the Shechina with every step. [The union of the Holy One and the Shechina is the goal of all kabbalistic practice, and means the complete unity of all elements of creation, to bring about a revelation of G‑d in the world.] Everything he does, including physical actions, his food, his job, everything can be united, and reflect to him the corresponding trait in the Shechina.

This is the meaning of the verse: "Know the G‑d of your fathers", and also the meaning of the quote from the Zohar above. Understand this!

[Adapted by Eliezer Shore from Degel Machane Ephraim, parashat Va'etchanan; reprinted with permission from www.baalshemtov.com]