Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Nahama D'kisufa - Beating the Bread of Shame

Nahama D'kisufa is the Bread of Shame - which in the Ramchal refers to the experience we have when we receive something that we have not earned - a feeling of shame. But hey, don't you love getting a free gift? Where's the shame? Wouldn't you love to win the lottery? Where's the shame?

But it's the foundation of reality as we know it - we're here in this world to learn Torah and do Mitzvos, so we can 'earn' the light Hashem wants to give us; a light which would be too much to handle if we had not earned it.

But why is it called the 'Bread of Shame?' Why isn't it simply referred to as something like the 'uncomfortable principle?' Or something like that?

I realized today that the 'Bread of Shame' is actually a play on the passuk which speaks of the response Hashem gave to Adam's sin. He was told he would 'eat bread by the sweat of his face.' (actually it's literally 'sweat of his nose.') Whereas the bread he ate before in the Garden of Eden was given to him without any need for effort on his part - it literally grew on trees - now he would have to be involved in the process of bringing the bread from the earth.

But notice that it doesn't say he would have to work for his bread. It just says that he would have to sweat for it. It would require effort.

So what is the way out of the 'bread of shame?' The way out is through perspiration.

Naturally, we could think that this means that whereas before it came on its own, without any effort, now I must expend much effort to receive the bread.

But it's not so.

The bread that I receive is actually still received without effort. (Just go to the supermarket if you don't believe me!) But I have to sweat in order to remove the shame of receiving something without effort.

Before, in the garden of Eden, I could receive without feeling shame, without needing to earn it by putting in effort. It felt like it was mine. And it was, because as a child of Hashem, it is my birthright to have my needs provided for. (Look around at the animal world.)

But after Adam's sin, I still receive it for free - only after I earn it.

And I can earn it in different ways.

The chiddush here is that the effort and sweat I put in does not have to directly result in the bread I receive. The effort just takes away the shame.

I can also lose the shame by going through challenging circumstances. Or by going through a process of teshuva which brings me back to Hashem and aligns me closer to the original state of Adam.

Another chiddush that comes out of this idea is that the concept of nahama d'kisufa is a state which is only applicable post-sin of Adam. Previous to it, Adam and Eve could receive great blessings without feeling shame.

It's worth thinking about how this applies to the passuk which talks about their being unclothed and not being ashamed.

Perhaps thoughts for another time...

No comments: