By Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Serebryanski
Introspection is an essential part of personal growth. One of the things that I learned much
about from my father and grandfather was the art of introspection. They spent
time each day reflecting upon their personal connection with the Creator and
creation. In fact they contemplated each situation in life as much as time permitted.
My family did not expect other people to be or act in the same way that they did.
Religion was about their own personal relationship with the Creator through the
structure of their lives. They took responsibility for personal development and
respected the choices that other people made for their journeys in life. We
learned how to conduct ourselves from the living example that our elders set for us.
People often look for guarantees of salvation from specific individuals instead of
taking the personal actions that are required in order to save themselves.
Joseph had everything he desired in Egypt. This gave him the luxury to choose
whether or not to reconnect with his brothers. Wisely, he recognized that he
had to let go of his anger and to deal with his pain. Otherwise he knew that he
would cut himself off from his connection to the source of positive events and
growth that he had experienced in his youth. Cutting himself off from his
connection would destroy (an important part of) the future for his children.
Introspection that incorporates self-chastisement, self-judgment, preconceived notions or is
riddled with emotional upheaval shifts the focus away from the goal.
Furthermore, when one attempts to intellectualize or romanticize their beliefs
as a basis for religious consumption, they are often constructing layers that
stand between themselves and an open connection. The purity of the flow is
uninhibited and does not require the justification of intellectualism. It
simply is, and is part of all, and is ready to receive openly to all who seek
to recognize their connection within. That is precisely why introspection needs
to be pure, simple and selfless.
Life is temporary, as is peace (which is dependent upon certain conditions.)
(Proverbs 18:21) “Death and life is in the hand of the tongue.” This tells us that words have the capability for
creation and destruction. It reflects that life and death are dependent on many variables.
According to tradition Judah blamed himself for all that happened. He thought he was
being repaid for the harm he inflicted on his father due to the result of his
suggestion to sell Joseph. Jacob believed that he was suffering because of how
he tricked his father. The Talmud (Brochos, 5a) states that “a person who sees that he has problems should look at his actions.” This is reinforced by what it says in Lamentations 3:40 “We search our ways and examine them and restore ourselves with YHVH.”
(Genesis 45:28) “Jacob sent Judah before him to prepare for him (Goshnoh) in Goshen, and then he came to Goshen.” According to Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer 26, the land of Goshen was given to Abraham
by Pharaoh with all of the other gifts (Genesis 12:16) when Abraham visited
there. That is why Jacob felt comfortable settling in that location. Yet, they
still needed, and received the consent of the new Pharaoh in order to live
It was in the land of Raemses (Genesis 47:11)
which is not the same location as Raamses (Exodus 1:11.)
According to Kabbalah the letters of the name Goshen are a specific combination
that can be used for protection. That is possibly why the place is called
Goshen in the Torah. The numerical value of “Goshnoh” (in Goshen) is 358 which
is the same numerical value as the word “Moshiach.” This may reflect a
protective quality in the idea of Messiah. Rather than a control or leadership
it is about every person being protected by resonating in their own space.
We are aware of the fact that we should take reasonable care to protect ourselves
from physical harm. We go to great lengths to lock our property and the space
in which we take shelter. Yet we allow other people to infuse their thoughts,
feelings and beliefs into our most private space of all. Our relationship with
the flow and source of all things should emanate from a private and truly
personal space within us.
Why then do we allow others to dictate and reduce our connection to behavior
patterns that simply satisfy those who wish to boost their egos and exercise
How can we expect to have an open relationship with the Creator when we allow
everyone and anyone to fill us with the negativity that robs us of time and
desire for personal (and clear) introspection?
Learning about performing those precepts which were designed to help us connect is
essential. However, passing judgment, punishing and hating are all part of the
disconnection. In the absence of our holiest guides and leaders, we are left
with a void. It is up to each of us to do, listen and search ourselves so that
we may conduct ourselves properly. While we are required to issue protection
against imminent danger, we should not be dictating to others. When people need
help and/or guidance; we must remember that giving guidance and wisdom should
not cross the bounds to dictatorship and/or control.
When issues arise we are able to see variables in expression. Yet none of them will
change the essence of existence. They may arise to guide us, to make us aware
of things or teach us those things that we could not figure out for ourselves.
The focus of introspection should be to maintain our connection with the Creator of
all existence in order to be a contributing part of one essence and being. When
we keep ourselves open to the flow of that oneness we come closer to bringing
all existence to that place in a truly peaceful manner. Let us plant the seeds
that lead to growth, unity and love within the context of development of
personal connection to the Creator that will ultimately bring the peace for
which we are all yearning.
Rabbi Yossi is a teacher, lecturer, mashgiach, published author, spiritual healer, professional counselor and guide. In his
daily life he is just Rabbi Yossi – a highly perceptual and loving friend to all.