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A Good Heart Proverbs 22: He that loveth pureness of heart that hath shine in his lips, the king shall be his friend Certain phrases are tossed around our vernacular without much thought as to what they truly entail. They are used indiscriminately and slowly a sublime concept is denigrated to a lowly status. An easy example is ‘love’. Love is the eternal divine value that keeps the world running, yet it is often used within the confines of a fickle high school relationship or a superficial friendship. Slowly, the prevalent misuse of a word chips away at the concept behind it, until the original connotation is muddled. The same is true for the expression ‘a good heart’. Nowadays it seems that everybody has ‘a good heart’. Often, I have heard the phrase used as a baseline in morality as in, ‘well, I know he has a good heart’ right after a gross foul up. As long as we express good intentions regardless of actions, then it means ‘we have a good heart’. From a Jewish perspective that is a flagrant betrayal to the original concept. A truly ‘good heart’ requires a lifetime of purposeful internal correction. It is a quality that is at the highest level of self perfection. Let us explore this concept and hopefully we will come away with a portion of its depth and a measure for its attainment. To begin, we have to realize that the depth of many concepts within a Jewish framework is rooted in physical reality. Since we understand the physical world to be a manifestation of a spiritual reality, we can learn spiritual concepts from their physical counterparts. Therefore, to know what a good spiritual heart is, we need to know what a good physical heart is. Each palpitation of the heart is inscribed with a divine message. When decoded properly, it provides a blue print that details the proper way to become a hub of vitality to the people around you. From a Kabbalistic perspective, the heart is the perfect balance of Chessed, loving kindness, and Din, strict justice. The contraction that gives out blood is Chessed and the relaxation of the heart that cuts off the flow is Din. What we must realize, though, is that the strict justice is encompassed by the Chessed because really the heart wants only to give, but it does so most effectively through a proper amount of din or cessation of flow. As everybody knows, the heart is constantly at work pushing blood to the organs and extremities of the body; it is a giver of life and existence. That is where a good spiritual heart begins. When we walk into a room, do we radiate positive energy and enliven those around us or do we sulk and take energy away from a room or are we simply neutral? Already, from this perspective, we can see that ‘a good heart’ is no small feat. A heart does not take days off, and therefore, the level that we strive for is to be positive under nearly all circumstances. Just because a person does not sleep well the night before does not provide a license to take away energy from other people the rest of the day. And this is only step one. The next measure of a good heart is how we feel after hearing about another person’s success. Does a spate of jealousy well up or is there an overflow of joy? We learn this trait from Aaron, Moses’ brother who despite his elder status, rejoiced in his younger brother’s leadership. It was this trait that made him fit to be a Priest and that is why the most important part of the Priest’s outfit, the breastplate hung over the heart. This aspect is especially difficult to acquire since many of us have been raised on the bell curve system, where it is inherent to abhor the success of others as the success of one is intimately linked with the failure of another. We need to retrain our hearts to desperately desire the good of his friend. This idea is intimately linked to the last gauge of how to measure a good heart, which is do we judge our friends favorably? When a friend is late, is it our first inclination to immediately recount all the previous times that he or she has been late and subsequently cook up a sharp remark to be delivered upon entry, or are we busy worrying about all the possible things that may have happened since we know the friend would never purposely be late? Even if it requires a tremendous imagination to find a valid reason to judge our friend favorably, this is our obligation. At times, there are values that supercede ultimate truth. From a spiritual perspective, when we push away truth in this world so as to maintain an unflappably positive outlook, the same thing occurs upstairs. It awakens spiritual flows that come from the top three Kabbalistic spheres that are rooted in love. What is the benefit of a good heart? The above verse in Proverbs explains the consequences as viewed through the eyes of the Maharahal. Within these poetic words, King Solomon expresses that he who has a pure heart, which is in essence a good heart, is loved by both the world above as well as this world. King Solomon is careful to use the language of a pure heart as that encompasses both a relationship between man and man as well as man and G-d. The laymen would correlate the language of a ‘good heart’ within the confines of a relationship between man and man, which is only half the picture. As for the lips, this is the extent to which a truly ‘pure heart’ affects man. Even a person’s outer appearance is affected by his heart because a heart is at the root of life. Most people have experienced the radiance of a person, even before they speak, when it is evident that they are positive and have a good heart. There is a high standard set for a ‘good heart’. It requires internal surgery in order to weed out many of our natural inclinations that stand in the way from complete connection with those around us.

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