Derech Hashem | What Yiras Hashem Really Is

What does it mean to truly fear Hashem

(Glossary below)

Yirah and Ahavah of Hashem as unique mitzvos

  • All mitzvos are vehicles for the soul to express itself via the body
  • Specific mitzvos are singled out for a special goal
  • Yirah and ahavah affect how mitzvos are done
  • These mitzvos do not have a time restriction

Defining fear

  • Fear is an emotion felt towards a known threat, as opposed to anxiety where the threat is unknown
  • The mind is always assessing the threat level of any situation due to the instinct of self preservation
  • Fear also applies to a threat to one’s self worth

Levels of yiras Hashem

  1. Yiras haonesh
    • This is the knowledge and feeling of accountability one has from Hashem and the possibility of receiving consequences from Him
    • This is the lowest level of yiras Hashem
  2. Yiras haromemus
    • This is the understanding and feeling of being in the presence of the awesome Being that is Hashem
    • One can feel this even if he doesn’t expect any consequences from Hashem
    • This feeling comes from an understanding of the infinite disparity between Hashem and yourself, leading to an awareness of your relative vulnerability and mortality
    • This level is greater than yiras haonesh since one achieves this level through understanding the nature of Hashem (as much as is possible) and an increase in emunah
  3. Yirah meahavah
    • This is the fear that one will disappoint or hurt someone that one loves.
    • One can love Hashem so much that one fears disappointing Him
    • Moshe Rabbeinu initially wouldn’t accept the mission Hashem gave him to free the Jews from Mitzrayim out of fear that he would disappoint Hashem through doing and incorrect action or having an incorrect intention.
    • This is a very high level

Yiras Hashem is foundational

  • It sets an attitude for your performance of mitzvos
  • It stops you from doing wrong
  • It puts you in perspective with regard to your struggle between doing Hashem’s will vs your own will

Developing yiras Hashem

  • Become familiar with the attributes of Hashem as much as possible
  • This can be accomplished through a study of nature (science) and understanding that they are acts of Hashem


  • Hashem: God
  • Ahavah: Love
  • Yirah: Fear/Awe
  • Mitzvos: Commandments
  • Onesh: Consequence/Punishment
  • Chet: Sin
  • Emunah: Faith (Literally: faithfulness)
  • Romemus: Exaltedness
  • Moshe Rabbeinu: Moses our teacher
  • Mitzrayim: Egypt
  • Yiras Hashem: Fear/Awe of God
  • Yiras haonesh: Fear of consequences
  • Yiras haromemus: Awe of the exaltedness of God
  • Yirah meahavah: Fear born out of love

The True Goal of a Holy Person

When we think of the activities of a tzaddik or holy person, we tend to think in terms of his doing mostly mitzvos. This, however, is not the whole picture. Rabbi Kessin presents a paradigm shift in the way we think about avodas Hashem / service of God.


The neshamah/soul and its power to be mezakeich / purify the body & the universe

  • The neshamah/soul is, at first, imprisoned in the body in that it cannot be mezakeich / purify it
  • The neshamah / soul is freed to be mezakeich / purify the body during Olam Habah / The World to Come
  • Doing ratzon Hashem / God’s will stores credit towards the magnitude of zikuch / purification the neshamah / soul will be able to enact.
  • Stages of transition to Olam Habah / The World to Come:
    • Mashiach Ben Yosef / The Messaiah from the Tribe of Joseph will subdue all evil in the world.
    • Mashiach Ben David / The Messaiah who is a Descendant of King David will destroy all the evil. From the beginning of his reign until the year 6,000 from creation the dead will be resurrected (Techiyas Hamesim)
    • First 1,000 years (after the year 6,000 from creation) the physical universe will no longer exert its physicality, and the universe will undergo zikuch / purification while the body remains inert (This is called Chad Choruv – the One Thousand [Years] of Desolation).
    • For the next 2,000 years the body undergoes zikuch / purification
    • In the 9,000th year Olam Habah / The World to Come begins


How mitzvos / the commandments are mezakeich / purify

  • Mitzvos / the commandments are interactions with the physical world in a way prescribed by Hashem / God
  • By doing a mitzvah / commandment, you suspend your own will in deference to the will of Hashem / God, testifying that ein od Milvado / there is nothing but God
  • Hashem / God then credits you with the potential for zikuch / purification to the magnitude of your actions and intentions.
  • All of halacha / the Jewish codes of law define interactions with the physical worls as prescribed by Hashem / God


Both mitzvos / the commandments and voluntary actions l’sheim shomayim / for heaven’s (God’s) sake can accomplish zikuch / purification

  • There are 2 series of positive tikun / rectification devices:
    • Mitzvos / commandments, which are mandatory
    • Necessary survival activities where you have in mind to use them to serve Hashem / God better. These are optional
  • A true tzaddik / holy person does everything for Hashem / God. He or she can be said to be God-conscious
  • Between these 2 tikun / rectification devices, it is possible to serve Hashem / God 24/7
  • A tzaddik does not think in terms of mitzvos / commandments and aveiros / sins. Rather he or she thinks about God more than they do about themselves
  • Even if a mitzvah / commandment is easy to do because of a self-interest, one may receive a little schar / reward anyway since it was likely done at least slightly for Hashem’s / God’s sake
  • We need to work on moving further from self interest and closer to thinking about Hashem / God

The secret of “Good Inclination” (Yetzer Tov)

Everybody knows that Evil Inclination, or Yetzer HaRah, or Satan, or Malach Hamaves, is an angel assigned to do the job.

We’ve also heard about Good Inclination, or Yetzer Tov.

However, the nature of Yetzer Tov is obscure. Somehow nobody heard about an angel representing Good Inclination. What is it, really? What kind of a creature, what kind of a being is hiding behind the term?

The nature of Good Inclination is revealed by R’ Mendel Kessin.

The series on Ramchal’s Derech Hashem continues.

The shiur was given in Lakewood, NJ, 11/19/2016.

For the audio only on SoundCloud click here.


The entirety of Torah – Bird’s eye view – by R’ Mendel Kessin – 01/02/2016

Please note: this subject actually began at the end of the previous shiur which was given on 12/26/2015 and titled Greatness of this generation.

The entirety of Torah – Bird’s eye view – by R’ Mendel Kessin – 01/02/2016 [Download]


R’ Mendel Kessin; Derech Hashem – 12/19/2015 – Obama, Trump, and the future of the world

R’ Mendel Kessin; Derech Hashem – 12/19/2015 – Obama, Trump, and the future of the world [Download]

[Disclaimer: this was not written by R’ Kessin himself, nor verified by him, and this is not a transcript either (please note: watch the video or listen to the audio if you are interested in Trump and Obama – the essay is not presenting that part of the shiur]

Messianic Era And Future World.

Physical disappears.

At the end of times the physical universe will be gradually transformed into spiritual. Physicality will disappear. However, disappearance of physicality is a subtle concept. It will be rather reconnected to the source and as such won’t be noticeable. We will deal with the spiritual directly, and its light and transparent “external” membrane won’t even remotely resemble what seems to be a coarse physicality today.

How do we transform the physical matter into spiritual if we are immersed in the physical?

A commandment as an instrument of transformation.

The mechanism of transformation is expressed in the principle: behavioral conformity to an assumed reality creates the reality. Behavioral conformity to the spiritual reality is what the system of commandments achieves.

A commandment is an instrument which reverses the physical back into the spiritual, if performed correctly. Unfortunately, after the error of the first man this is not accomplished immediately when a commandment is performed. Commandments generate energy which is held “somewhere” till the work is complete, and when the time comes the energy will be released and actual transformation will take place. Till then the energy gets collected and stored while the process of rectification is taking place.

Messianic era.

Messianic era is characterized by the removal of zuhama (the substance of spiritual impurity which pervades everything in our world). When zuhama leaves a body, a body is automatically restored to its ultimate physical and mental condition, including immortality, perfect shape and health. It’s like becoming 22 years old again, even much more and beyond, a peak of physical and mental performance, with no more weakness, old age, or disease.

Waking up” after death.

Waking up after death is like waking up after sleep. The memory of all the reincarnations comes back; you remember all your lives just like you remember days of your life when you wake up in the morning. The relationships and the social structure will drastically change, as in the same very relationship you may assume different roles in different reincarnations – a parent in one, a child in another, a spouse, a boss, a friend or an enemy, etc.

The removal of zuhama means no death, no sickness, no decomposition of the living matter, no negativity, no hunger, no pain. No crops will be destroyed. No struggle for health, life, livelihood. Ultimate peak of the material reality. This time – messianic era – will last up to 210 years and will end in the year 6000 (the year 2240 in the common calendar).

Splitting the sea and Giving Torah.

When the sea was split a few days after Exodus took place, a maidservant “saw” more than the greatest prophets were able to see. This happens when zuhama leaves a body, even partially. When this happens, even the simplest and least sophisticated among us are greater than the greatest prophets.

By the time the sea was split, 1/7th of the zuhama was removed.

What’s 1/7th? The whole removal took place over 49 days, between the Exodus and Giving Torah. The sea was split on the 7th day, thus 1/7th of the process already took place. If 1/7th zuhama removal had such an impact, can we imagine what happened when the Torah was given after zuhama was completely removed?

When the Torah was given, they saw The Primordial Light – The Ultimate Oneness of the World – The Oneness of God – they experienced God’s presence on a level of the first man, even more – as the first man was still facing the job of rectification, while now the job has already been completed, or almost completed.

We are given some hints about messianic era, but overall the messianic era is shrouded in mystery. Details are not clear till it happens and we actually experience it. It’s not about knowing, it’s about being – a different state of being is experienced.

Yet in the future world we will experience God and His Oneness on a level infinitely greater even in comparison to the experience of Giving Torah. The comprehension is beyond comprehension.

7th Millennium and on.

What will transpire in the 7th millennium? Everybody is “lifted off” earth; a body and a soul are equal. A body no longer dictates drives and urges.

We can intellectually understand the concept, but we can’t comprehend what a body without zuhama would be like. It’s such an incredible change in a human being, as well as in the nature of the world.

In the 8th millennium a body will become inert. It won’t influence a soul at all. A soul can now bask in a dazzling light, in the Oneness of God, in its own power to recognize the true reality.

Millennium after millennium, a body is being transformed further and further into a totally transparent cover of a soul. It still exists, but it doesn’t have any importance at all. A soul will nourish a body. In the year 10,000 (the 11th millennium) the future world will finally arrive. It will be eternal – time is no more.


R’ Mendel Kessin – Derech Hashem – 11/28/2015

R’ Mendel Kessin – Derech Hashem – 11/28/2015 [Download]

[Disclaimer: this was not written by R’ Kessin himself, nor verified by him, and this is not a transcript either]

Commandments And Spirituality.

Spirituality and the nations.

Is the spiritual dimension given over exclusively to the Jewish nation?

Not at all. It’s just as well open to every nation, every culture, every human being. However, there is a difference.

Outside of the world of Torah there is a choice between physical and spiritual. Either – or. Either physical or spiritual. You can’t have both. Thus, there are two possible outcomes:

  1. Avoidance, escaping physicality as an attempt to become a spiritual being.
  2. Discarding spirituality and diving into the physical.

Which of the two is more commonplace?

Neither. There is a third option. The war. The fight. The conflict between physical and spiritual. Tiring and frustrating oscillation between the two poles. This is overwhelmingly common state of being for the vast majority of the humankind.

Jewish spirituality.

So what’s Jewish spirituality? How does it relate to physicality?

The Creator offers a unique solution through Torah: physicality as the means to spirituality. In fact, physicality as the only means to spirituality (as consistent rejection of physicality leads to a loss of life).

There is a unique phenomenon which is designed to bring us to spirituality through physicality. It’s COMMANDMENTS.


What is a commandment?

On a simple level, a commandment is a command, or an instruction given by The Creator to a human being.

What’s the fundamental operating principle of a commandment?

No” to physical, “yes” to spiritual. “No” to my wants, “yes” to God’s wants. Denial the physical reinstates the spiritual. Denial is an essential component of a commandment.

However, let’s look at commandments closer.

A commandment ALWAYS implies interaction with the physical. In a sense, it’s not pure spirituality, it’s rather an interaction with physical in a denial manner. We are denying some aspect of physical, and this denial brings spirituality, stating the Will of God, but the denial itself is achieved through the use of the physical – not through rejecting physicality per se.

Let’s look at commandments even closer.

What am I really denying when performing a commandment?

I am denying my personal WILL in physicality, which means denying my SELF, that is my physical self. I am not denying physical world per se.

There is a subtle distinction in place: denying a steak VS denying myself eating a steak.

His Will counts, my will doesn’t count – IN physicality too.

Okay, that’s “don’t do”s, but what about “do”s? What about positive commandments? There are many positive commandments which are pretty tasty, aren’t they? Where is the denial in tasty commandments?

Tasty commandments.

The denial is still there, but it’s more subtle. It’s in denying INTENTION. I am doing it, but I am not doing it for myself – even if I want it – I am doing it for HIM – because it’s God’s will – I am denying my own self-interest, EVEN if the desire is in me and I can’t eliminate it!

This work is subtle indeed. When it comes to positive, tasty commandments, the tension is shifted to working on INTENTIONS, MOTIVES. Why am I doing what I am doing? Shifting attention in motivation is the key.

There is a spectrum of levels out there. Am I doing it 90% because I want it and 10% because God wants it? Am I doing it 10% because I want it and 90% because God wants it? Is it 50/50? Let’s not forget, an external action might look the same – there may be no difference at all externally. This is an invisible self-denial.

This kind of self-denial is not available outside of Torah, outside of God’s Will, outside of knowing God’s Will to the slightest degree, in all the aspects of life.

And why would self-denial lead to spirituality? What’s the mechanism?

Self-denial and spirituality.

The spirituality is the world of “There is nothing and no one but God” – God’s Oneness to the utmost degree.

How is God’s Oneness projected on my own being?

Simple. I don’t exist. God exists, I don’t. But I do, I feel my own existence!

This is where self-denial comes in. I deny my own self, thus stating the Oneness of God. I do it through commandments. A commandment is an action in “AS IF” frame. True, I don’t perceive God’s Oneness, but I act, I perform, I think AS IF it’s true, AS IF it’s real. I am working hard on changing my perception, on shifting my awareness to God’s Oneness, emphasizing through commandments my own non-existence in a face of God’s Oneness.

The ultimate paradox.

What’s the paradox of denial through commandments?

Through my own denial, through this rejection of my own self – I exist MORE – and in fact that’s where the real existence is hidden! The more I deny my existence, the more I exist, the stronger my real existence is IN God’s Oneness! I can’t help it! This is counter-intuitive, yet it’s can be felt, experienced.

The principle behind commandments.

Using scientific terminology, we may say that the principle behind commandments is a follows.

Behavioral conformity to an assumed reality creates the assumed reality. Of course, in the context of the reality of God’s Oneness it’s more appropriate to say that behavioral conformity to an assumed reality reveals the reality, rather than creates it. But in our terms, in our frame of reference, it’s perceived as creation indeed.

The more we attempt to connect to God’s reality, the more He gives it back to us, reveals it. God gave us a trigger: we can switch it on and off. Switching it on lights up the world and we are stunned by magnificent view of God’s world.

Unfortunately, due to the failure of the first man commandments work as a delayed release trigger, and it takes some time for the actual revelation to take place, but we will surely witness it speedily, in our days.

Thus, a commandment is a statement of ASSUMED REALITY. Or, a behavioral conformity to assumed reality.

613 commandments.

Why are there so many commandments? What’s in multiplicity?

Each commandment is unique, in a sense that it denies a certain part, or a certain aspect of my self – at the same time it conforms with a certain part or a certain aspect of spiritual reality of God’s Oneness. Thus, to really understand a commandment in depth I would have to realize exactly what I am denying in myself, and at the same time how and where it’s stating God’s Oneness.

As an example, on a general level, what’s the concept behind shabos?

The concept is: you are not a cause. God is at cause!

But why only shabos? Shouldn’t we assume it every day, all day long?

We certainly should, on certain level, but God made it possible (and permissible) to consistently and strongly make such a statement only once a week, to create a lasting impression on us till next shabos.

It a fascinating job to go through 613 commandments and to find out what each one reveals in spirituality (i.e. in God’s Oneness) – exactly.

Physical universe.

Physical universe exists only for our denial, BUT not for denial of the universe, rather denial of our selves through the physical universe. It may be harsh denial, at times, but let’s face it: for a large part this denial is pretty tasty, especially our days.

Thus whatever we do – or however we pay attention at things as we go through life – we create, maintain, and change the reality. If we learn Torah in depth, we realize that behind the ocean of details each tractate in Talmud represents a “department” in the reality, while the totality of Torah reveals the magnificent picture of the reality the way it really is…