May 17, 2023 by Lazer Brody
To be happy and healthy, we must first know who we are and what resources we have at your disposal. Each of us is a mini-universe. Just as the universe at large has its resources, each one of us has our own resources. Contrary to what many think, our resources are not limited to brain and brawn. Our resources are the Divine influences on our lives.
Kabbalah defines the three realms of Divine influence on our lives. They are olam, shana, and nefesh, or the dimensions of place, time, and body.
The message of olam, shana, and nefesh – place, time, and body – teaches us vital information about ourselves. It empowers us to properly utilize our resources. We know that conserving the earth’s resources is vital to our sustenance. In like manner, we must learn to conserve our own resources. First, we must be aware that Divine influences are our vital resources, just like our heart, brain and lungs. Second, by learning that these resources are manifest on three levels, we can do much to Guard and conserve them. This “personal conservation” does much to improve the quality of our lives.
The Creator enables our souls to fulfill their specific mission also by giving us these three dimensions of influence – place, time, and body. These are the soul’s prime resources, which it must utilize effectively for a person to feel happy, fulfilled and healthy. Consequently, when an individual squanders these vital resources, the soul suffers in the same manner that the entire world suffers when its natural resources are misused. When the soul suffers, so does the body. Let’s see how this works on an individual level:
One should always consent with a capable spiritual guide before moving or changing one’s place of employment or learning. Why? Each plant thrives on certain soil and in a certain location that provides optimal conditions for that plant’s growth. In like manner, each soul thrives in its optimal place. Suppose you were sent to this world to heal people. You won’t thrive on a desert island living in solitude. But, if you were sent to this world to refrain from idle chatter, then a desert island is a great place to be.
Our olam is divided into our general place and our specific places. One’s general place is his or her home town. Their specific places might be home, place of employment, or place of learning and worship. The Creator sends the person influences of abundance in these specific places.
How is one’s resource of olam squandered? If a person is in a bar drinking beer rather than in his place of study or employment, he squanders Divine abundance and influence. Clearly, if he’s roaming around in a shopping mall when he should be in school or at work, he’ll see an immediate loss of Divine abundance. Even worse, he is liable to incur a form of suffering. This could be a stiff reprimand from his employer or teacher, a fine, and maybe even total failure such as losing one’s job or flunking out of school. We therefore must be careful about being at the right place in the right time. For a soldier on guard in a border outpost, being in the right place meanings staying alive.
Conserving the priceless resource of our time is the easiest concept of olam, shana, nefesh to understand. Each of us has a predetermined allotment of time on this earth, depending on the nature of our task on earth and our needed soul correction.
If one systematically squanders time, he will not only fail to accomplish his mission on earth, but he won’t be happy, fulfilled or healthy. A pre-Med student should not be spending the night before final exams in a billiards parlor or in a discotheque instead of reviewing his organic chemistry notes and getting a good night’s rest. That way, he’d seriously jeopardizes his chances of scoring high on the final exam and being accepted to medical school. His entire future is at stake because of one evening’s wasted time.
Woe to the children whose parents are social-media and chatroom addicts or those who aimlessly surf for hours on the web. Can they justifiably complain that they don’t have time to devote to family? Hashem has given them the time to devote to enhancing their marriage or raising wonderful children, but they’ve squandered it.
The hallmark of history’s spiritual luminaries was their utilization of time. It’s mind-boggling to think about what the father of Kabbalah, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria Ashkenazi (1534-1572) accomplished in his brief lifespan of 38 years. Rebbe Nachman of Breslev (1772-1810) lived a prodigiously prolific life. Yet, he too had a short lifespan of only 38 years. We therefore want to utilize each day to the max and be especially careful about what we do with our time.
The body is the housing of the soul. We must protect it and use it for the right purposes. For example, the Creator gives us a heart, whose task is to pump blood through a slim and healthy body for 120 years. If a person overeats and indulges in junk food – which are detrimental to the health of body and soul – his body will accumulate fat cells. The poor heart must now supply blood to these wasted areas of the body. Unlike the bones and the muscles, these wasted areas contribute little to performing one’s task on earth. To add insult to injury, the cholesterol and saturated fats of junk food are deadly. They clog the arteries, cause a rise in blood pressure, and make the heart’s job of providing blood to the “dead-beat” fat deposits even more difficult.
Our prime consideration in utilizing nefesh should be the question of what’s good for nefesh. The comfortable, convenient, or tasty have nothing to do with health. A proper workout in the gym may be excruciating and uncomfortable, but the nefesh will thrive as a result. Hashem gives us certain parts of nefesh to perform specific commandments, such as procreation and granting marital bliss. When these parts of nefesh are misused, the flow of Divine abundance to the soul is sorely impaired.
Practically, we should all strive to be our own personal conservation agencies, using the resources that Hashem gives us for the very best. Start with one resource, such as time, and make a conscious effort to improve while asking the Almighty in your personal prayers to help you. Wait and see how happier and healthier you become. An awareness of olam, shana, nefesh can help a person lose weight when no other diet would help, and is a wonderful aid in helping us find our mission on earth. May we all be blessed to utilize the wonderful resources that the Creator gives us for our best of health and success, amen!