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A Dvar Torah for Tazria and Metzora

Are we animals?

A Dvar Torah for Parsha Tazria and Metzora: Leviticus 12:1 - 15:33

By Rabbi Shlomo Nachman © April 04, 2020

We turn to Rebbe Nachman's Likutey Moharan Book 1 lesson 29:1,2 (Read)

“He's an animal!”

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Is this a compliment? No, its an insult. A proud person especially, but most of us honestly will demand that we are not animals. We are human beings! But consider, biologically we're not really so different. We eat, mate and defend. Animals eat, mate and defend. So how are we different? As we read in our siddur Lev Eliezar on page 213: The superiority of humans over beast is nothing, for all is futile – except the pure soul which is destined to give a just accounting before Your throne of glory.”

In this we are different, unique.

Unlike animals, which do not possess free choice and expanded consciousness, humans are endowed by the Creator with the ability to rebel, to reject the Will of the Almighty. From this, we should understand that before humans perform positive deeds through and following positive thoughts and intentions, we are on a lower level of consciousness, arguably lower than the animals due to our divine nature. While the animals go about their daily lives in pure innocence, when we that way, motivated by our lower or animal mind, we “ sin.” They do not. The Sages teach “ the gnats preceded humans in the order of creation,” as said in Likutei Sichos. Our unique ability to ascend into the heights or fall into the depths is the primary reason Adam was created as the last of G-d's creations. Until a person acts with divine consciousness, we are lower than the other species. Ah, but when we use our rational minds and stretch forth our hands in blessing to the earth and its Creator, as the Beloved intends for us, we manifest our true nature as the Sons and Daughters of the Most High!

From this we may receive some insight into how important our good deeds and actions truly are! Without choosing and acting on the Yetzer Hatov, we have no merits. Without emunah and the positivity that true faith motivates us to do, we fail to reach the potential the Beloved offers each of us. With emunah, we bless our souls, the earth, and our Creator. Such blessings bestow limitless merits. These combine to enlighten us with devekut, attachment to the Holy One.

As Rebbe Nachman explains in our reading from Likutey Maharon today, Not every spoken word is really speech. The animals bark and screech and meow, but they do not speak, although of course as animal lovers we know that they certainly communicate! Likewise not all of the actions we perform are 'human' actions. Many, perhaps most, are on the animal level. Like them, we eat, mate, defend and make a lot of mouth sounds. But through emunah, active motivating faith, through bitachon or trust in HaShem, through hitbodedut or secluded prayer and meditation, through Torah study and contemplation... through these things we can arise from the animal kingdom and realize our true identities as Children of the Holy One (Psalm 82).

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