We create the world we live in. Our perspective on life, our conceptualization of everyday events, and our relationship with Hashem all affect how we perceive our environment. Charitable acts can be understood by one person as giving money to someone in need, but to another it could mean channeling the goodness of Hashem into reality, illuminating the darkness which engulfs a fellow person. Perspective matters.
At the conclusion of last week’s parsha, Avraham gave himself a bris milah at the ripe age of 99—an act of avodas Hashem (service to Hashem) beyond anything we can comprehend. On that note, Parshat Vayera begins, “Hashem appeared to him by the terebinths of Mamre; he was sitting at the entrance of the tent as the day grew hot” (Bereishis 18:1).
What is the connection that had Avraham’s bris milah result in Hashem appearing to him?
Every Jewish boy must receive a bris milah on his eighth day in the world; this momentous occasion marks the everlasting covenant between Hashem and the Jewish people, enduring from generation to generation. The Sfas Emes explains that once Avraham gave himself a bris milah, he peeled back a layer that covered Hashem’s presence.
Just as a bris milah reveals our eternal covenant with Hashem, Avraham’s devotional bris milah removed an external shell of Hashem’s concealment and allowed a deeper perception of Hashem to be revealed to him.
“What is the path that leads to the palace?” Rav Kook asked. “It is the Godliness that is manifest in the world in its beauty and glory, spirit and soul” (O, “Zeronim” 1).
The palace is the grandest of destinations, designed with astounding architecture and an incredible interior, filled with glimmering gold and scintillating silver. We are enchanted with the palace, yearning to arrive at its fantastical atmosphere and be with Hashem.
Which path must we follow in order to come closer and closer to that palace? Well, the question is flawed. You cannot come closer to your current location; to arrive at the kingdom of Hashem, we need only recognize that we are already there.
Avraham reached an even greater level of perception after his bris milah; Hashem met him outside his tent because Avraham enabled himself to reach a point of clarity where the immanence of Hashem became abundantly clear. It seems as though Avraham followed the directions of his own path to arrive at the palace of Hashem; by acting in accordance with Hashem’s will, he shifted his perspective and identified that he was in the palace of godliness.
All of our actions have the potential to transform our inner, spiritual consciousness, whereby our world assumes a new reality. When the spiritual forces within us float to our conscious mind, and our soul can soar with pure ecstasy, our very same worlds will feel like planes in the beyond.
The path to Hashem’s palace is knowing that we are living in a world of godliness.