"And you shall say in your heart: my might and the power
of my hand has wrought for me this wealth, but you will
remember Hashem your G-d for He is the One Who gives you
the power to make this wealth" (Devorim 8:17).
HaGaon Hatzaddik R' Avrohom Eliyahu Meises zt'l
says that this warning relates to our view of ourselves
and of the world around us. For in every thing that
exists -- aside from the exterior which is visible to
the eye, there is also an innate, intrinsic dimension
which can only be discerned by an examining eye. The
Torah commands and warns us to look at every thing and
every event with an accompanying contemplative gaze.
The nations of the world worshiped the stars and
constellations. What caused them to err? The fact that
they examined everything by externals. And indeed, on
the surface we must admit that celestial bodies do have
an impact upon the world and that the whole development
of the universe is intertwined with them. This
observation sufficed the nations and they stopped here,
without delving beyond and trying to see the propelling
spirit beyond the heavenly spheres. This, we know, is
the A-mighty, the Creator of the heavenly hosts, the
Moving Force behind every single thing.
The nations related towards the heavenly bodies as
powers of influence in themselves, and not objects under
the influence of something higher.
With regard to man, they also go only as far as
externals. And so far as one can observe, it seems that
man is in control of his fate and the more he exerts
himself, the greater his success. A simple rule of cause
and effect. But they ignore the fact that man's whole
vitality is a gift from Above. Every successive breath a
person takes is a gift of life from Hashem deserving
thanks and praise.
Without Hashem, he is nullified. But the gentiles do not
acknowledge this. Therefore, in every area of life, they
see only the externals, and they develop a dependency on
the conclusions of their senses. Israel, however, looks
inside, they are internally focused. They are
continually reminded to disregard externals and relate
to them as to an ax in the hand of the wood chopper.
It must become clear and self evident that there is
nothing whatsoever in this world that has any might of
its own. Everything is propelled only by the vitality
with which it is imbued by the Creator, every single
moment. The Nefesh Hachaim tries to implant in us
the realization that were Hashem to withdraw His flow of
vitality towards the world for even an instant, all
would revert to chaos and void.
We state this explicitly each morning: "Who renews in
His kindness every day the act of creation, as it is
written: To make (in the present tense) great
luminaries, for His kindness extends forever."
These words lend a deep meaning to the words of Dovid
Hamelech, who says in Tehillim: "From my flesh do
I behold G-d." HaGaon R' Avrohom Eliyohu Meises
explains: `From my flesh' -- when I examine myself, I do
not see myself and my flesh as a separate entity.
Rather, I behold Hashem. I only see the essence, the
inner being, that is, the spirit of Hashem. That which
gives me vitality and life, not my own might and the
power of my arm. This was the faith of Dovid Hamelech
and with this staunch trust he was able to go forth in
battle against his enemies and not fear. "I shall pursue
my enemies and overtake them and I will not return until
I have put an end to them." For he does not see before
his eyes enemies who present a threat as far as their
power and military strength. Whatever power they possess
is endowed to them steadily, at all times, by Hashem,
the Source of all power and life. And surely, there is
nothing to stop Hashem from giving Dovid the victory, be
it against the many or the few. Thus, when the spies
sowed fear in the hearts of the people regarding the
power of the inhabitants of Eretz Canaan, Calev quickly
"Do not fear them for their protective shadow has been
removed from them." The formidable shadow is merely a
dummy, an external vision, a superficial threat. And the
moment that the shadow is removed, one can see the inner
truth. And what is that truth? The moving force of
Hashem. And that force, thank G-d, is on our side!