We have previously described a system in which God “wants” to give of His goodness and, therefore, creates us to be the receivers of that goodness.
So, it seems like we’re done.
God wants to give. Man wants to receive.
God gives. Man receives. Game over.
So, what are we still doing here?
Turns out it’s not that simple.
While man is, in fact, created with this nature to receive, the funny thing is that oftentimes when man does receive something, he is very uneasy about taking it.
But why the inner struggle about taking a gift if it is inherent in our God-given nature to receive?
For example, when invited over to another’s home for dinner, many feel perturbed about showing up with no gift other than their presence, eating the food, and then leaving. So, they resolve to bring something along to add to the meal – wine, flowers, chocolates, cookies, dessert, etc.
Why do they feel the need to bring something? After all, if being a receiver is the essence of what the human being is and how he was created, why all the agitation when receiving?
Here is the problem: While it is true that, on the one hand, God creates man to receive, on the other hand, man is an “outgrowth” and “expression” of the Infinite. That is, just as the sunray is an “outgrowth” and “expression” of the sun, the soul of the human being is an “outgrowth” and “expression” of God. There is a certain seeming independence that the sunray has from the sun in which the sunray receives its essence and vitality from the sun, yet the sunray shares a certain nature with the sun. And, in the same manner, there is a certain seeming independence that man has from God in which man receives his essence and vitality from God, yet man shares a certain “nature” with God.
(Similarly, the Torah compares the human being to a tree. A tree branches out, and the branches receive their essence and vitality from the tree, yet share a certain nature with the tree. So too, man receives his essence and vitality from God, yet shares a certain “nature” with God.)
This means that while God creates man with the innate nature to receive, man also ends up with another nature – the “nature” of God – which, for our purposes here, is the nature to give.
Thus, man is created in duality – with the natures of both receiving and giving – and this causes conflict within him.
On the one hand, man has a nature to receive because he is created to receive. On the other hand, man has a nature to give because he has a side of him that is Godly, and if there’s one thing we know about God so far, it’s that He is a giver. After all, as we have explained, God creates the world, creates man, and gives man constant opportunities to build a relationship with Him (which is the ultimate) while not taking anything in return. Hence, God is the Ultimate Giver, and the human being, being an “expression” and “outgrowth” of God, has that nature to give as well
This is the reason why we have uneasiness about receiving despite the fact that God created us to be receivers. It is because we have another side to us – an innate Godly side – which yearns to give. And receiving is a blatant denial and squashing of that side.
There are two resolutions to this quandary – the first of which doesn’t completely solve the problem, thereby causing us to consider the second. We will deal with the first and its shortcoming here, and we will come onto the second next week.
Since God created us with the nature to receive, we are clearly supposed to be receiving. Therefore, it seems we are to receive that which is necessary and become a giver for the rest.
And, the truth is that we are much less uneasy about receiving those things that we really need to receive.
As I type this, I am receiving air.
I don’t feel bad about that.
Since air is something I simply cannot do without, I don’t give too much thought about receiving it, and receiving it doesn’t trouble me. Similarly, were a starving castaway to suddenly be found and offered water, bread, and some tuna by a few explorers who happened upon his deserted island, he wouldn’t feel that this is something he ought to not be taking from them since he needs it for his survival.
However, the more the thing I am receiving is something I ought to not need to receive, the more I feel uncomfortable receiving it. For example, in the affluent society in which we are blessed to live, where it is expected that I have a job, make money, and am capable of sustaining myself, I may start feeling uneasy if I show up at my friend’s house and scarf down a meal – even if I’m participating in this meal as an invited guest. Since the fact of the matter is that I can feed myself, I become uneasy about receiving a meal from another.
As we explained in previous articles, the more similar the two participants in any relationship are, the greater the relationship is going to be. In the spiritual sense, this principle is endlessly increased.
Let’s try to understand this on a conceptual level.
Imagine Joe is acting cruelly. At that moment, what is Joe’s association with the greater concept of “Nice”?
What would you advise Joe to do if he would like to have an association with Nice?
Of course you would tell Joe to act nice and to be nice.
This is because, to the extent an individual is nice, he embodies, personifies, and shares a certain oneness-of-identity with the greater concept of Nice; and, to the extent an individual is not nice, he and Nice are separate, having nothing to do with each other.
Similarly, if I want to have a close relationship with the Infinite (i.e., the Ultimate Giver), I am going to want to transform myself into as great a giver as I can be.
Here lies the problem.
If I’m created with a nature to receive, and therefore I must receive and I should receive, how can I still be connected to God with the part of myself that is receiving? And don’t tell me to be half-connected to God and half-disconnected from God. I don’t want to be connected to God with only 50% of myself. I want to be 100% connected to God!
For this, we will come on to another resolution that goes deeper next week. Stay tuned…
Rabbi Eliyahu Yaakov is a cutting edge international speaker on Kabbalah, relationships, parenting, and life, and the author of the #1 Amazon’s Best Seller, Jewish By Choice: A Kabbalistic Take on Life & Judaism.
Rabbi Eliyahu is scheduled to be speaking across North America during the dates November 5-22. To book a presentation, seminar, or consultation email email@example.com