According to the Baal Shem Tov, every physical desire in this world really contains an aspect of love of Hashem. When we experience a physical pleasure, it makes it easier to come to love the Source of that pleasure. Since Hashem is the Ultimate Source of Good, connection to Him is the ultimate pleasure we can experience (M’or Einayim, Parshas VaEschanan).
In reality, the person who is caught up in the pursuit of physical pleasure really is seeking the pleasure of a connection to Hashem. But in this world, that desire has gotten misdirected and disconnected from the Source.
The emptiness, sadness, and unhappiness that people feel after experiencing a physical pleasure they thought would make them happy is really Hashem’s call to them, telling them to return, that they are straying from the true path they are meant to follow.
Those who can at least recognize that their desires are misdirected, and yearn for the real pleasure of spiritual growth and connection to Hashem, have already taken a big first step to healing and being who they truly are.
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov famously said: Ein yei’ush ba’olam – There is no need for sadness in the world; everyone has value, we are all connected, the suffering and difficulty is Hashem trying to get our attention because He wants to help us understand and see something that right now we can’t see, because we think we aren’t good enough. We can have energy because energy doesn’t come from us, it comes from Hashem. And Hashem will give it to us because His essence is to bestow good – not hidden good, but revealed good.
But we have to recognize, accept, and yearn. We have to recognize that Hashem is speaking to us through situations, and we have to be willing to listen to what is being said, including the lies that our thoughts are telling us, and yearn for that change by pleading with the Source of change.
As Chazal tell us: “If you change your place, you change your mazal” (Rosh HaShanah 16b). It also means: If you change [yourself], then HaMakom [another Name for Hashem] changes your mazal.
In this way, we begin to have a real two-way conversation with Hashem. We can not only train ourselves to “hear” Hashem’s Voice calling to us throughout the day, but we can respond, as well, and lay the foundation for our personal kabalas haTorah.
(Material was previously published on www.ShiratMiriam.com.)