“If I am not for myself, who is for me? [And if I am for myself, what am I?..].” (Avot 1:14)

When praying one must be like divested from physical reality, unaware of your existence in this world. 1 That is to say, “When I reach the level that I am altogether unaware whether I am in this world or not, I will certainly have no fear of alien thoughts. For when I am divested of this world, alien thoughts will not approach me.” 2 This is the meaning of “who is for me?,” i.e., what alien thought will come to me?

But “If I am for myself,” i.e., when I regard myself as something substantial and real in this world, then I am really as of no value at all. This is the meaning of “what am I?,” i.e., of what significance am I, and of what value is my service before God? For then alien thoughts will disturb me and I am as nothing in this world. The principal purpose of man’s creation in this world is service [of God]; 3 but I am unable to perform His service because alien thoughts disturb me. 4