Ariel Ben Avraham

Parshat Re’eh: Free will in the freedom of love

Freedom of choice is the foundation of our relationship with God and His Creation: “See, I give you today [a] blessing and [a] curse (…)” (Deuteronomy 11:26). Countless times we have said that diversity is the premise for us to choose, and that anything negative should not be a choice but a reference to always choose the goodness of God’s ways and attributes. God gave us free will to understand the essence and qualities of everything we relate to every moment. In this sense we must approach everything in full awareness of all levels of consciousness. It implies that in this process these must be present: discernment as the wisdom to understand in order to know what we are about to approach, mindfulness to be aware of what our emotions and feelings experience with it, their intensity as the passion it arouses in our senses, and the actions we are eventually compelled by our instinct.

This is the integral approach to have in order to fully experience life and the way we relate to it, and this approach is activated only by free will. In other worlds, if all our levels of consciousness are not involved in our approach to life there is no real free will. This means that if we put aside or repress our emotions or feelings in what we discern, our experience is not complete. Likewise, if we only devote our emotion, passion and instinct to experience something without discernment, we miss a greater and more fulfilling moment.

The lesson here is that no matter how different the dimensions of consciousness indeed are, we must integrate them harmonically in order to truly know what we have before us. Throughout our lives we seem to divide our consciousness under the belief that emotions don’t mix with discernment, and that instinct is divorced from thought. In this predicament our idea or conception of freedom becomes something relative, therefore we are not completely free because we limit our power to choose only to part of our consciousness. In sum, we are really free when we choose in full awareness of all aspects of consciousness.

“Division” in consciousness occurs when we have a separate approach to what we are about to experience, and this separation is the result of ego’s fantasies and illusions. The moment ego dictates that only our discernment must lead or only our passion and instinct, we get trapped in the mirage of ego’s individualistic desires. Then we realize that our way out is our recognition that love is the one and only capable to integrate all aspects of consciousness, in order to bring us to real freedom to live and experience life and the world in all their dimensions.

As we approach this world with our entire consciousness, all its dimensions also unfold before us. This explains our limited perception of what we see around us, because the limitations imposed in our consciousness reduce what we see in front of us. If we approach a person based either on beliefs (preconceptions) or on emotions, we will perceive him or her only within those frames. This explains prejudice, racism, apprehension, hatred and other limited approaches to all. Hence having a positive, integrating and embracing consciousness leads us to perceive and experience with an expanding and enhancing approach.

Our mystic Sages teach a higher conception of free will when they say that in the blessing lies the power to transmute and change the curse. This happens in the same way that light dissipates darkness, as also happens with the expanding, integrating and embracing qualities of love’s ways and attributes to transform their opposite qualities and turn them into love’s domains. Thus we are able to see that what we perceive and experience as negative, destructive and contracting can be transmuted by our desire to turn it into something positive, constructive and expansive. This is actually what we learn to do since the moment discernment is fully developed in our childhood. We learn to discern with the sole purpose to exercise free will. Ignorant people depend on the limitations of their knowledge to make their choices, hence limited people make limited choices.

We must clarify here that knowledgeable people do not necessarily make wise or positive choices, because knowledge makes us better only if we apply it for good. In this sense love’s ways and attributes are our best knowledge, discernment, understanding and motivation to be good and do good. Let’s get it right, love is the best measure of all things because love doesn’t have limits when we perceive everything through love. We choose the blessing because God of is the blessing in His ways, attributes and Commandments. Also because He is our God and our Father: “You are children of the Lord your God. (…) For you are a holy people unto the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be His own treasure out of all peoples that are upon the face of the Earth.” (14:1-2).

Our Creator chose us to make us aware that we are an emanation of His love, which is our Essence and identity. Hence love is our preferred reference and choice to make it prevail in all aspects and dimensions of life. God entitles us to exercise our true identity in the awareness of love as our Essence and freedom. In the total freedom that love is we liberate our consciousness from anything opposite to its attributes, and in this awareness we enthrone love in all the ways we approach life and the world.

Only then we will live the fullness and plenitude of God’s blessing, and transform all curses through the goodness of the blessing, the goodness of love: “Know Him in all your ways and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:6) and “(…) honor the God who holds in His hand your life and all your ways.” (Daniel 5:23).

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.