Shlomo Ezagui

Less Physical, More Spiritual

Jeremy Bishop

“The first step to serving God is not to do what one feels like doing,” said Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson. The Talmud tells of scholars who would push themselves to eat later than everyone else.

Our minds are tremendously powerful. They not only influence the energy of our thoughts as they project into the world but also influence and determine our physical realities.

Inside every physical object is a pure and refined spark of God, holiness, and blessing. To connect with this spark, one must wage war against physical temptations, the lure of materialism, and, many times, the person’s own body. He should not desire the physical but should seek to benefit from the food or object only for how it serves God.

To control oneself and not allow oneself to control us.

If a person eats only to pursue his physical pleasure and enjoyment, that physical part of him becomes more robust and more pronounced. The physical takes over and drowns out the possibility of the spiritual influencing his life.

The source of everything is God. The entire universe is filled with His Glory.

A pure and perfect spark of God at the core of everything evolves and changes until it outwardly becomes a coarse material object. On the surface, the food looks and tastes the way it does. Sometimes, this can be a blessing, and sometimes, it is quite the opposite of what this person needs. The core—the spark—contains the infinite qualities of God and is always good.

The Talmud tells us a story. Once, in a very poor home, a daughter told her father before the Sabbath that there was no oil to light the Friday evening candles, only vinegar. She wanted to light the Shabbat candle very much since it is the most auspicious time in the week for a woman to pray to God.

The father, who was extraordinarily God-fearing and therefore connected to God, replied, “The One who told oil to light can order vinegar to light. “Take the vinegar and light the candles with it.” She did so, and it lit longer than oil would have stayed lit.

The vinegar was lit because deep down in the vinegar was the same core and spark of God as in the oil. This great Rabbi and his daughter, with their pious belief in God, were able to penetrate the outer limitations of liquid and connect with the unlimited spark of God inside.

The first commandment to Abraham, who enters this fantastic covenant with God at the age of 75, was, “Go from your land, your birthplace, and your father’s house to the land which I will show you.”

The commentators ask, “If everything in the Torah is an end unto itself, how does this commandment accomplish anything, and why is this the first commandment Abraham is charged with?”

Abraham kept on maturing and growing in his faith as he grew older. At three years old, at 40, 48, and 50, Abraham recognized God on deeper and more profound levels. At 75, Abraham reached an unparalleled perfection and excellence of self-refinement and inner connection with God. In this new stage, God saw greater and better possibilities before Abraham and gave him the route to reach his potential.

In Hebrew, “your land” can be understood as your natural bodily desires. All the feelings and emotions you have experienced due to exposure to your environment can be considered your “place of birth.” Your “father’s house” can be understood as all the intellectual conclusions you have come to over the years.

As great as a person has become, it is still only him—a finite, natural human being. The Torah commands every person. To reach “the” land, all the land that God intended “to give you and all your children,” a person must divest himself of the inclinations built into the corporeal and physical and surrender himself to the core, to the purity and will of God.

People can begin living a life that is primarily spiritual when they outgrow the limitations and constraints of their physical bodies. The “person” as an ego of “me”, becomes smaller, which allows more of God to attach itself to the person. This inevitably showers him with infinite blessings in the physical world.

Chapter 121

About the Author
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui is an author and lecturer. "A Spiritual Soul Book" ( & "Maimonides Advice for the 21st Century" ( In 1987, Rabbi Ezagui opened the first Chabad Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the first Orthodox Synagogue on the island of Palm Beach, Florida.
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