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Wednesday, February 28, 2024 - 19 Adar I 5784
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Lights in Vessels

Attention deficit disorder (ADD), with or without hyperactivity, is an extremely prevalent condition among children. It is characterized by impulsiveness, difficulty focusing attention, and sometimes, hyperactive behavior.

The exact neurobiological mechanisms underlying ADHD is not yet clear. The most widely accepted theory today is that the deficit lies in the executive function of the brain. That is the part of the brain responsible for organizing our activities – for deciding what to do when. To focus on what is important, the brain needs to filter out a great deal of extraneous information

Mind you, some of the information the brain filters out might be very interesting. However, if you paid attention to everything, your mind would just flit from one stimulus to another, without any pattern or organization. The brain needs to choose what to ignore. And this is what the child with ADHD has so much trouble doing. The world is such a fascinating place, so filled with phenomena to explore and wonder about – why not take it all in?

Treatment for ADHD involves medications to stimulate the executive function of the brain, while at the same time dulling some of the overactive sensory system. However, if we could find a way to improve executive function without sacrificing any of that extra sensory input, we would be dealing with a super-intelligent child.

Like most other topics, a parallel can be found for this in Chassidic and Kabbalistic teachings. Prior to G-d creating the physical universe, there was a state called “Olam hatohu,” or the “world of void.” It is a world filled with intense G-dly light, “orot d’tohu,” but those lights were too energetic to be contained within that world. Olam hatohu had great lights but small vessels. The world of Tohu shattered, according to Kabbalah, and the sparks fell into our world – the world of repair, Tikkun. We’ve been gathering up those sparks ever since.

The world of Tikkun, in contrast, has few lights but many vessels. Picture it as the spiritual world on Ritalin – it has an imposed structure, a filter that keeps out most of that intense light.

But imagine what would happen if we could bring the lights of Tohu into the vessels of Tikkun – to have that intense revelation, but in a way that we could contain, absorb and organize it all. This is what the world will be like in the days of Moshiach. That catchphrase – “Lights of Tohu in vessels of Tikkun” – was how the Rebbe described our efforts to publicize his message of Geulah. We must not give up any of the intensity and power of the message – but most give it over in a form that people can readily receive. This will prepare us for the ultimate Redemption, when we will experience the most amazing revelation of G-dliness of all time, without being overwhelmed by it.


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