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The Dynamics of Grace

divine vehicle faith grace karma personal effrot personal transformation Jan 09, 2024

“Grace is flowing like the ocean, ever full. Everyone draws from it according to his capacity. How can one who brings only a tumbler complain that he is not able to take as much as another who has brought a jar?” — Sri Ramana Maharshi ¹

“The tzaddik comes to the world, goodness comes to the world.” — Yalkut Shimoni

The Hasidic Master, Nachum of Chernobyl, teaches that the tzaddik (or realized soul) is the intermediary that joins this world with the Kingdom of Heaven. The tzaddik is the vehicle through which all of God’s goodness and blessing flow into our physical plane of consciousness.

A tzaddik is not an ordinary human being. He or she is an outpost of the Divine Presence upon earth. In the Kabbalah, the Shekhinah or Divine Presence is compared to the moon, which has no light of her own, but reflects the light of the Sun. Similarly, a realized soul is a clear, pure vessel which reflects the light of God into the universe.

Although the enlightened being is a boundless source of Divine grace, the tremendous spiritual power that emanates from him will sometimes have no effect on certain individuals. This is because the attitude of the seeker plays a significant role in determining what he will receive from a teacher. Rebbe Elimelech of Lizensk teaches that the tzaddik is a breikha, a pool from which Divine blessing, brakha, flows out in an uninterrupted stream. If we want to receive from the breikha that is a tzaddik, then we need to approach the tzaddik with devotion, sincerity and faith.

Faith is the manifestation of a heart that is open and receptive. Our faith forms a spiritual vessel to hold the heavenly waters flowing from the supernal pool. The greater our faith, the more abundant will be the blessing which is bestowed upon us. If a person has no faith, then he comes to the tzaddik without a spiritual vessel. Though the breikha, the supernal pool, flows continuously, he will obtain none of its brakha. Because of his insincerity and cynicism, he will leave the presence of the tzaddik without experiencing anything at all.

Faith is not the only factor that affects the transmission of grace. A person’s own spiritual efforts play a major role in determining the outcome of a spiritual encounter. A tzaddik is a sensitive instrument that passes the Divine energies through his spiritual body. He is a spiritual communications operator that links a person up with his soul. The purer a person is, the more refined the energies will be that flow through the tzaddik. The higher a seeker’s aspirations are, the further the tzaddik will be able to take him into the Kingdom of Heaven.

If we have worked on our personality traits and practiced spiritual disciplines, then we will be able to assimilate the gifts that the teacher’s agency makes possible. But if we have not made the necessary effort, then our spiritual centers will not be sufficiently developed, nor our personality properly purified and aligned. As a result, we will be unable to attain the blessing of this enlightened being.

There are other factors which affect the transmission of grace. Our level of spiritual evolution has a significant influence on the workings of grace. Every person is born with a different spiritual makeup. Every person has particular spiritual talents and skills. Our karmic condition at birth will shape the depth of the desire for God that we feel, and the nature of the spiritual ‘equipment’ that we have to work with in this incarnation.

Yet there is much that can be changed by strong aspiration, constant effort and honest self-introspection. Many a spiritually gifted person has not achieved the goal, while others with less innate gifts have succeeded in reaching far into the Heart and Mind of God.

Determining the nature of a person’s spiritual equipment is more complex than it might at first seem. Each person comes from a particular root soul with specific spiritual qualities. In addition, his individual soul will have its own character, as will his personality. For example, his root soul may come from the sefirah or chakra of wisdom (chokhmah), while his individual soul embodies the energy of beauty (tiferet), and his personality traits focus on the attribute of power (gevurah).

Each of us will be given the combination of qualities that we need for our spiritual growth, and the work which we have to accomplish in the world. Nonetheless, the dominant qualities of his soul will underlie all of his personality traits, infusing their energy and vitality into his character in accordance with his spiritual development. The more we have advanced along the path, the more pronounced will be the influence of the soul on our personality.

In the case of enlightened spiritual masters, the situation is entirely different. Once they have reached union with the source of their soul, all of their centers become fully-flowing, and all of the different energies are available for them to use. At any given moment, God will pour into them the needed energies to further their spiritual work, or fulfill the needs of their students, or resolve a particular situation in which they find themselves.

For example, the Baal Shem Tov teaches that Moses created a pathway for the attribute of the fear of God (yirah) in the world. Yirah is another name for the sefirah of power or gevurah. On one hand, this sefirah gave Moses fearlessness. On the other hand, its power was central to his work of destruction and transformation in Egypt and the desert. At the same time, Moses is also associated with the sefirah of knowledge or daat. It was this energy that made him a vessel to receive the Torah. And it was the Divine guidance that came through the center of daat which enabled him to lead the people of Israel through the desert.

We face many challenges along the spiritual path. In order to successfully reach our destination, we need to transcend our physical consciousness and embody the Divine attributes that lie at our core. We are part of both the Natural Kingdom and the Kingdom of Souls. It is up to us to decide which aspect of our character we wish to strengthen and develop.

When the power of our Divine spark is fully developed, the result is a mighty spiritual force like Moses, the Baal Shem Tov, the Buddha, or Sri Ramana Maharshi. By actualizing their Divine nature, these extraordinary individuals were transformed into a spiritual passageway through which the Kingdom of Heaven descends upon earth and humanity ascends into the higher worlds.

Even today, we can still tap into their spiritual power. The emanation of their grace continues despite the fact that they are no longer in physical incarnation. By following the path that they have laid out for us, and by looking towards them with sincerity and faith, we can touch upon the higher Source from which they have come, and invoke a responding emanation of Divine grace.

Copyright © 2022, by Yoel Glick



1. David Godman, The Power of the Presence II, p. 122