The saintly person is a leader. All of his senses and attributes - both spiritual and physical - submit themselves to his command. This is what King Solomon says, “One who rules his spirit is greater than one who captures a city” (Proverbs 16:32).
A 'Hassid' is the quintessential Jew. His heart is filled with faith in God. He constantly senses God's closeness, as if God were standing before him. He believes that God knows all, hidden thoughts, feelings of the heart - all is revealed to God.
A Hassid senses that God accompanies him, protects him, and sustains him at all times. It is as if angels of God were accompanying and protecting him. True, he cannot actually see them, but he senses their presence. He feels protected and cared for.
True and complete faith in God causes one to believe that whatever He does is for the best. This provides a most sturdy defense against hardships and suffering. One who has faith in God is not broken by hardships, but actually receives them lovingly.
The Sages ruled that a Jew must pronounce at least one hundred blessings each day. Ostensibly, this obligation is a burden and a nuisance. However, a more penetrating view teaches us that such blessings actually give a person pleasure and enjoyment.
Upon waking, one's heart becomes filled with rapture due to the renewed encounter with God's great and bountiful creation. This leads to a desire to give thanks to the Almighty for everything. The first word to come out of one's mouth is “Thanks.”
Asceticism is not a virtue but a vice. The servant of God loves this world and long life, because through them he acquires the World to Come. With every good deed that a person does in this world he will acquire a higher level in the World to Come.
The Holy People has a Holy Tongue which possesses intrinsic value. It is a lofty language which God Himself employed when creating the world and giving His Law to Israel. It is a clean and pure language that befits the spiritual content it expresses.
The Hebrew language. It is only natural that the nation of Israel, which harbors such great, lofty, and divine ideas, should have a special language, a profound, pure, and rich tongue that allows for complete and accurate expression of its views.
The Rabbi describes the breadth of wisdom possessed by Israel, particularly the Sages of Israel. The Sages had to be versed in all of the world's sciences, for all of these disciplines are needed for a proper understanding of the Torah's commandments.
The Jewish people are unique. The Divine Presence resides amongst them, and this situation brings both privileges and demands. When the nation as a whole senses God's presence in its midst, it possesses the power to lead a sacred and pure existence.
The precepts are not a burden but a privilege. They are beautiful ornaments, and it is a delight to decorate with them. They fill one's entire life, and this is what is so great about them. All aspects of life are illuminated by the Torah's light.
Israel was created with the purpose of proclaiming God's praise in the world: “I have fashioned this nation for Myself, they will relate my praise” (Isaiah 43:21). And we relate God's praise through a life of sanctity, through Torah and commandments.
Human intellect says that the ideal servant is one who worships God through fasting and abstention. This, people believe, is how a righteous person ought to be. The Torah, however, says that the perfect service is that which is carried out joyfully.
35. The Commandments Depend on Good Character Traits
Positive character traits serve as a foundation for the Torah's commandments. It is inconceivable that a person observe the Torah's commandments if he lacks positive character traits. The Commandments themselves constitute the height of perfection.
Honoring the Sabbath is tantamount to thanking the Almighty. God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. Hence, observing the Sabbath brings man closer to the Almighty than numerous prayers or acts self-denial and mortification.
Just as the nation of Israel is God's Chosen People, so too the land of Israel is God's Chosen land. This land was designated as an inheritance for the Jewish people since the time when God established the respective boarders of the world's nations.
The Sages liken the Holy Temple to the heart: just as the heart is the center of all of the bodily organs, the center of life from which all of the life-forces flow to the rest of the body, so the Temple is the spiritual heart of the entire nation.
The difference between Israel's faith and that of other nations is like the difference between an actual person and a statue. Nations have sought to imitate the faith of Israel yet have been unable to achieve any more than a superficial resemblance.
If any other nation had gone through what the Jewish people did, they would have assimilated and disappeared. What element is it that keeps the Jewish people going under even trying circumstances? Answer: the covenant which God made with Israel.