The human experience is a complicated one for we are formed from both exogenous (external) and endogenous (internal) forces. Take, for example, genetics; no one asked for the gene pool “gifted” to them. Some got lucky, others, not so much. Then there are the parents. How did two such messed up people get a license to raise a child? In all seriousness, even the best and most loving of parents pass along an assortment of traumas and poor habits we would all much rather live without. With so much beyond our control (so many contributing growth/life factors beyond our say so), how do we grab the proverbial reigns and take charge of our lives - direct it toward the destiny we actually want?
The answer is simple: Learn to guard the “gates”.
Let me explain.
While it is true that some of nature’s “creative strokes” lie outside (beyond) our freedom of choice, others are very much within our discretion and depend directly on our input. In particular, Kabbalah explains that each of our 5 senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch) comes with a built in “security gate”, defense system so to speak, that allows us to freely “flip the switch” and choose between “opening” the gate (allow the stimuli in) or “closing” the gate (deny the stimuli entry).
This, according to the great commentator and Kabbalist, Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov (Igra d’kallah parshat Shoftim), is the significance of the Biblical verse, “Judges and police you will put in all your gates” (Deuteronomy 16:18). Explains Rabbi Elimelech, had the verse said “the gates of your city”, i.e. “Judges and police you will put in the gates of your city”, I would understand the verse to be commanding the fortification of all city entryways - to prevent a possible attack. But what does “your gates” mean? Answers Rabbi Elimelech, “your gates”, the portals and entryways of your body - your head in particular! To give an example, if our eyes see - lock onto - something inappropriate (something not in our spiritual best interest), we can choose to either: A) Look at and absorb the experience, or, B) Shut the “gates” (close the eyelids) and deny the noxious influence from entering and, potentially, wreaking havoc. Mastering each of the body’s senses, explain the masters, allows for deep and meaningful spiritual development, for only when the physical body is sanctified (beginning with its “gates”) can the soul (hidden deep within) “emerge” - become conscious.
By sanctifying our eyes, nose, ears, mouth, hands and feet (limbs of “touch”), we create a suitable “dwelling place” for the Creator’s Holy presence. This may just be the only say-so we have........let’s take advantage of it!