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Michael Berg’s – Weekly Wisdom – “Real Certainty” – 2/29/08
The problem with life’s tests is that we always perceive before we go into a test that it will be difficult, but we think that whatever I understand now will sort of help me through it. In reality, when a person goes through a test, what he thought he had to sustain him has to be taken away or it is not a true test.
In the story of the Golden Calf, we know that the fall came in the last 6 hours before Moshe was supposed to return. The Midrash explains how the Israelites fell? There was a vision created of the death of Moshe. The Israelites saw Moshe was dead and being carried by the angels. Then came the question, are you going to have certainty in Moshe who said he would be back in 40 days, or are you going to believe your eyes?
When we go through tests of consciousness, whatever clarity we had is not there anymore. And not only is it not there any more, the opposite is there.
The Zohar talks very clearly of certainty referring to Jacob. Very often people mistake certainty as being certain in what I want to happen and the Light will make it so. That’s not certainty. As the Zohar makes very clear, certainty is in the Light of the Creator, and that what is right is going to happen. It’s a very great distinction. As Rav Brandwein explains in his letters to the Rav, certainty only works in its truest sense when my desire is the Light’s desire.
If I desire that everything will remain easy for me, I can have certainty forever and it’s probably not going to happen. That is not in alignment with what the Light wants for me. The Light wants that I will grow and change. If I want to be in comfort that is not certainty. True certainty is in doing what I need to do in life. When I am doing what I need to do, what the Light knows is best for me will occur.
Very often when something we perceive as negative happens, we think if that can happen then anything else can happen. Rav Ashlag and the Zohar explain that if a person’s certainty is moved by something that he doesn’t understand, or didn’t want to happen, it is never true certainty.
Rav Ashlag speaks about the concept of certainty beyond understanding. This is true certainty. If it is based on everything always going the way I want it to go, that is some sort of silly trick we put ourselves through. Real certainty is that assuming I’m doing the work, whatever is right for me is going to occur. That’s what the Zohar says. That means that my desire for the outcome is secondary to what I want the Light’s outcome to be. The spiritual work that we do is to remove the veils from the Light becoming manifested.
It says in the Zohar, a section the Rav always quoted, in the time we are getting closer and closer to, in the time of the greatest tests, in the time of Oy and Ashrei, it says worthy are those who keep their certainty in this time.
Times are changing, and in dramatic ways. We are coming close to the time of Oy and Ashrei, to the time when true certainty will be tested. Whenever something occurs that we don’t understand, we have two choices. We can drop our certainty, and who knows if we will recover, or we can say no, I will maintain and strengthen my certainty. One of the reasons things occur is to give us the opportunity, the merit, to strengthen our certainty.
There is no way that whatever certainty we have today will take us through the gamar hatikun. We have to make this distinction. We have to grow our certainty. It’s not to guarantee the result that I want. It’s to guarantee the realm the Light wants. If something happens that I don’t understand, does my certainty drop? Do I start worrying about everything else now?
We need to maintain and to strengthen certainty, for many reasons. Not the least of which is as we come closer and closer to the gamar hatikun, the test of certainty is because we need these tests. We need to have real certainty.
The test of certainty is not when things are the way you want them to be. The real test of certainty is when things are not what you want them to be. Are you at the level of doubt, or the level of certainty? We need to strengthen our certainty, not just because it helps, but because this is where we need to go.
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