Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Habits (continued)

I have completely abandoned what I was going to write about today due to responses that I received about yesterday's post.

Something that I have paid attention to for many years is the specific design of my life.  How everything that happened to me in life was meant to happen. The places that I found myself -- I needed to be there. The people that I've met and when I met them, was all destined. The many years that I spent as an engineer organizing and perfecting, was a great learning experience and was time well spent.  My career as a military officer served one very important purpose for my life; it taught me discipline. A strong lesson that one learns in the military is that one's very survival is dependent upon his or her ability to follow all the rules and regulations. Peace time consists completely of training the soldier's ability to carry out a mission with complete discipline. If one deviates from mission requirements, one could be putting himself and his fellow soldiers in jeopardy when on the battlefield. Discipline in the military means life or death on the battlefield -- success or failure in winning the war.

Habits that I talked about yesterday are no different from disciplining oneself in a military mission. The big difference is that doing the mitzvot correctly will result in life being successful both our life on Earth as well as for all eternity.  Getting into bad habits or even being lenient with the learning of others can be more detrimental than the discipline required to be successful on the battlefield.

I received comments saying that there are Rabbi's who allow this or that leniency. If a Rabbi is trying to make it easier to serve Hashem by releasing an individual from stringent obligations, he is not doing that individual any favor. His intentions may be admirable; but, if it results in bad habits for life, he has caused the individual harm.

According to Pirkei Avot I am old enough to give mussar (new word meaning: teaching moral conduct, instruction or discipline).  For years I have been very unsuccessful in doing so.  We are in a time, as it says in the Talmud, that "the old will get up for the young." There are individuals that I have tried to help by giving them mussar. The effort resulted in these individuals not talking to me anymore.  I experienced the same thing when I lived in the states.  There were very prominent Rabbis who gave mussar and were rejected.  It is interesting to me that you can give an individual very good advice in an effort to help them greatly in life -- resulting in such statements as "who are you to tell me what to do?"

I am a people watcher.  Also, I have studied psychology and sociology for many years (close to a college degree that I will never get).  My observations have shown that the individual who has many problems in life is also the same type of individual not disciplined properly in serving Hashem.  As an example, I have a neighbor who has been married four times, has had several businesses failures and has been plagued with sickness.  He is a very good person but is not too well disciplined in his obligations as a Jew.  When I confronted him with improvements that would create tremendous improvement in his life, he wouldn't hear of it.  I have seen it numerous times just how obvious the lenient observer of Judaism is plagued measure-for-measure with problems in life.  It is frustrating to me when something is so obvious and I can't help the situation. The greatest frustration is that I am talking about very nice people who could have a much better situation in life if they were more stringent about their observation of Judaism.

Am I saying that I am perfect and do not make mistakes?  No, I am actually human and make many mistakes.  The difference is I am aware of my mistakes and my human frailties and work hard on a daily basis to correct them.  My study of Torah very much has been directed at practical efforts for self-improvement.  I have mentioned that Hashem does not judge us by what we know, but how we grow.  The secret to complete success and happiness is knowing what you are lacking and working to correct it.  A stubborn attitude of "what I do is good enough" is very counterproductive.  A desire to perfect one's habits to serve Hashem better, is truly the way to success.  The most important aspect of all this is Hashem will greatly help the individual who has the correct attitude towards improvement.

Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt"l, told us that it is possible to have a type of hell in heaven.  He said that we could achieve heaven but be aware that we could have had a much higher level of heaven.  We would suffer with the anguish of knowing that if only I had done more on Earth, I would have brought myself closer to Hashem.   This holds true for our eternal level of The World to Come (forever and ever).
My great concern for every human being on this earth is with love and a desire to help each individual achieve his or her perfection and a very happy and joyous eternity.  Good habits are just as easy to achieve as bad habits.  With the proper effort and discipline we can have it all.  Why settle for less?

1 comment:

  1. Curious thing about our species: When we cannot win an argument based on the factual merits (truth) of our case, we attack our opponent personally - as if discrediting the messenger somehow nullifies the truth espoused by the messenger.

    Sure, there are a few people you have tried to help that don't talk to you anymore. But a quick look at your hit counter suggest many, many more are indeed listening!

    OK, USA