Monday, July 18, 2016

Two Answers to a Very Important Question

I receive this excellent comment from one of my dear readers that definitely was not a one-liner for an answer (I don’t think I have ever answered a question with a one-liner). First the comment:

Rachel July 17, 2016 at 7:02 AM
Why is it so hard to internalize that Hashem will help and we have nothing to fear? I seem to keep having to reinforce myself every single day and be reminded that what's happening in the world won't necessarily apply to me personally if I stick with Hashem. I get to the point where I am calm and then the next day a part of me forgets. And something happens in the world and I get terrified because I am not in a position right now to uproot my family and make Aliyah, as much as I might want to. Yes I pray. And read something from you and re-convince myself that somehow it's going to be ok. I guess what I'm asking is how to better maintain it without backsliding.
My response:
I have two answers for you. One is from my Psychology and Sociology background, which is an answer from this physical world; and, the other is from my study of scriptures, which is a spiritual answer.

Physical answer:
Human beings are basically lazy people, who try to do everything as easily and comfortably as possible. We take every shortcut we can to do the least possible work to accomplish a task. I have mentioned that we are spiritual beings with physical clothing needed to live in this physical world (actually to do the commandments that Hashem gave us to perfect ourselves). Being aware of the physical, means that most events in our lives are handled in the physical realm with very little, or no, regard to the real us, the soul. Internalizing the absolute truth of Hashem becomes a very difficult to impossible task if we live only in the physical world. Since our physical world is an upside-down fantasy world of lies and deceit, to try to do the best we can for ourselves is very much hindered by the clouded way we see the world. That is why trying to experience Hashem as a physical person is so difficult.

Spiritual answer:
Hashem created us with a very interesting system for us to use to develop and perfect our soul (the purpose of our lives on planet Earth). He gave us a heart that physically has two ventricles (each of the two main chambers of the heart, left and right). In the left side dwells the Yetzer Harah, the evil inclination, and the right side is the Yetzer Tov, the good inclination. Everything we do and say becomes a battle between the two inclinations in us. Why did Hashem design us in such a way? He did not make us as robots that would just be programmed to always do the right thing, but as beings, in His image, who would be able to see the two sides, and grow by making our decisions. Very often we make mistakes, but that is a big part of the growing and perfecting that we must experience.

More specifically: How does it work? The Yetzer Harah always points out you physical side and tells you to do what I described above. “Don’t work hard, be lazy, do the least possible effort to accomplish a task and do what you want,” is the advice of the Yetzer Harah. The Yetzer Tov says: “Don’t work hard, work smart.” “Be aware of what our mission is on Earth and get it done.” “Hashem’s instructions are the true ticket to happiness and success in this life and for eternity, simply follow those instructions and succeed.”

One might say doing Hashem’s instructions is not always so easy. That is the Yetzer Harah talking. The fact is we are creatures of habit, and if we get into the correct, good habits of life, we see the success and have a much greater incentive to continue on that path. There is nothing like success, happiness, peace of mind, etc to encourage us to want to get even closer to Hashem.

Let me give you one example that you can see the clear physical to spiritual advantage. This is perhaps the most misunderstood concept in the world: Shabbos!!! Our Yetzer Harah tells us it involves many restrictions that are uncomfortable and unnecessary. Our Yetzer Tov tells the truth, it is the greatest gift from Hashem that we could receive. We don’t admit it, but during the week we are slaves to the world. We have developed such a dependency, a slave mentality to devices. We have to turn on a TV or computer to be entertained; we have to prepare our meals to eat; we have to use all kinds of devices to live. We can’t see it, but we are very weak slaves to our environment. On Shabbos, I have everything and much more, but without being a slave to it. My meals are already prepared; my entertainment is reading and my family comradery. I don’t even have to turn on a light switch, the lights go on and off by themselves. It is also a great day of peace since the world goes away. I do not have to be bothered by what terrorists are killing people. I don’t have to worry about financial matters, bills, loans, credit cards, etc. The only thing to be concerned about is enjoying the freedom of the day, the getting away from the tense, chaotic world.

If you asked a non-Jew or a secular Jew in the US what day of the year is the most enjoyable day of closeness to family, good food and relaxation, they would answer: Thanksgiving Day. Observant Jews celebrate 52 Thanksgiving Days a year (actually more when you include Holidays). Shabbos is Thanksgiving plus. We don’t occupy ourselves with the TV as a way to entertain ourselves and ignore our families. We sing; we talk Torah; we earnestly enjoy the company of our loved ones more than any other society ever has or could have in this world.

Why is the divorce rate so low in the observant community, why do children have two parents, one male and one female, to love them and nurture them in life; why do families argue so little, with very little sibling rivalry; why are many of society’s problems not even a thought in observant communities (drugs, teen pregnancy, fights, child abuse, broken families, crime, this is too long a list for here); why are families so close to each other and do so much for each other; why are friends and neighbors helpful and so caring about each other; why are women so respected and not treated so viciously (most people who have never lived in an observant community will disagree with my last statement out of pure ignorance; I have lived many years in both secular and observant communities and can guarantee that there is no comparison), etc, etc, etc.

If you are thinking: I knew an observant family that had so many problems, that I just described as virtually non-existent, than I would have to say they were not living a true observant existence, but a deceptive secular life and only thought they were doing the right thing. I can’t walk into a hospital with a white coat and a stethoscope around my neck and say “I am a doctor.” I have to go to medical school for many years and earn it. I can’t say that I am an observant Torah Jew, because I dress a certain way; I have to live the commandments of Hashem with complete conviction. If a man is not nice to his wife or children, he should not call himself an observant Torah Jew, no matter how impressive he looks.

Something very important is to never think you are doing everything correctly. The only way to truly improve in this life is to have doubt that you are doing things correctly. The study of Torah is to constantly seek ways to improve. When Jacob went to meet his bother Esau, Hashem told him not to worry. Yet, Jacob, split his camp, sent angels ahead of the group, brought gifts for his brother. Did he not trust that Hashem would protect him? No, he did not feel that he was so worthy of Hashem’s protection. It is always us evaluating ourselves and wanting to improve. Hashem’s system on Earth is perfect and we can have it all by just living the system, but we always have to humbly look to grow and continue the mission of perfecting ourselves. Anyone who tells you “I do enough Teshuvah” is a lost soul who does not even know what Teshuvah is. Anyone who tells you: I know Halacha, Jewish law. Run from that person, since ten lifetimes would be needed to start to fully understand Halacha well.

If you don’t understand the gift of Shabbos, or the great advantages of keeping Kosher, or knowing that prayer works when done correctly, or knowing how to behave around your fellow human being, don’t pretend that you are on the side of your Yetzer Tov, when in fact you are living the physical weakness prescribed by you Yetzer Harah. Hashem gave us all the ability to have it all. You decide whether you want happiness and success in life or think you know better and throw it all away. Just do it quickly, this is a limited time offer about to disappear forever. Don’t argue with success, take advantage of it.  Turning to Hashem is always the right answer (actually the only right answer).

By the way, one of the saddest moments of the week is saying the prayers to separate us from Shabbos. If you can’t make that statement, you are doing Shabbos incorrectly.

Did I answer your question (I said it wouldn’t be a one-liner)?


  1. I'm a baal teshuva for one and a half years, and I can tell you the first mitzvah I enjoyed almost immediately was Shabbat. If you don't enjoy this day despite keeping it properly with family or friends, there's something wrong with you, regardless of religion. Maybe you are an embittered person.

    Despite common problems of society in the Torah observant communities are much less than the rest of the world, in this generation religious people have also several problematic issues to fix, including those damn whigs (machti aravim, none of them are kosher), fake religious people who refuse to stop worshiping their materialism and basically don't care about their secular brothers who don't have a clue about what's the purpose of life and will perish forever, some pathetic people among the so-called haredi world in reality only care about sushi, pizza, trips to cancun for pesach, clothes, cars, jewelry, showoff, fantasy of thinking they are righteous, etc. Of course the religious Jewish world is still MUCH better than the rest of the nonsense of goim and secular Jews, but unfortunately many religious people don't behave the way a Jew is expected to behave in terms of yirat shamayim, emunah, making Hakadosh Baruch Hu the main thing in your life, sometimes even honesty, etc, no matter how many warnings and tragedies they receive. Some religious people are like a body without soul. Hashem needs real Jews to do His will, not religious robots. Maybe what I just described doesn't apply to the place where the author of this blog lives, but unfortunately it's happening in many orthodox communities. If you don't believe me, ask an honest person who knows about this.

    1. Everything you are saying is right on target, as true as can be. One little reminder that I would have to add which is a large theme in this blog post. We are still human beings with all the flaws and shortcomings that go with the territory.

      That is why the Yetzer Harah was created. To give us the additional Tikun the involuntary way, that we are not achieving the voluntary way. Review my blog post of 26 October 2015, entitled "The Key to Happiness,"

      We are not here as robots to just go through the motions, but we are here on planet Earth to perfect ourselves. Humans make mistakes as you just pointed out, but these mistakes help us grow and actually bring us closer to Hashem, once we do the Teshuvah to correct the mistake.

      It is a perfect system that is totally for our good; I just wish more people would catch on to it and benefit by it. Time is running out. Whatever we accomplish now, we live with for eternity. Think about it.

  2. You answered it in the general sense, but despite what you say, which I do try to do, I still need that daily reset button. For example, last night after shabbos I was very sad that itbwas over, as I am every week. So I posted to facebook, "Only 6 more days till SHABBOS!!
    LOL start getting ready!" and one of my friends commented that I should just let it go, since it's my birthday today (secular, my Hebrew birthday is actually this coming Shabbos, 17 Tammuz). But I had to correct her that I wasn't stressing about getting ready for Shabbos, I was actually looking forward to it! It is the physical workweek which makes me anxious. So I reset by reminding myself of Shabbos with some task each day that is for Shabbos. But I find that I need more. I am so tired of being in the regular world and just want it to be Shabbos all the time. And years ago I was one of those people you spoke about who dreaded the restrictions of Shabbos. And all I wish for now is to be in Eretz Yisroel and I was always the last person to crave aliya. But now as close as you say it is, it still seems so far away. The more I do in ruchnius, the more I want to do, but the mundane responsibilities tear me away and tire me out. As my father was waiting to pass away several months ago, he kept saying "Let's get started already," as he was anxious for the next phase of his neshama's existence. That is how I feel now about Moshiach, let's get started already! And the waiting is so hard, even as I try to do more and more teshuvah. So in that elaboration, I still think I need more answers.

    1. I apologize for not being more clear in answering you. My basic message is that every complaint you have, every difficulty you are experiencing is your Yetzer Harah, YH, getting his or her way. My entire point is we are here for Tikun. If we are not doing enough of Hashem's instructions the way we should be doing, coming closer to Hashem, the YH takes over and gives us Tikun the hard way. He or she depresses us, gives sickness, confuses us, anything negative to make life more difficult. That gives us Tikun the involuntary way, as I have talked about several times. But we have the ability, and the tools to change it all and not give in to this force within us, who helps us but in a most unpleasant way.

      One other thought to try to put everything into perspective. We are about to go into a new world of goodness, love, no problems, no sickness, no death, in a word "paradise!!!!" We have very little time to get ready, to make the upcoming world, which is beyond out wildest imagination, as tremendous as possible.

      In Pirkei Avos it talks about us being in the outer chambers waiting to go into the main banquet hall for the most luscious meal possible. Should we be excited and prepare ourselves for the banquet to come? Or should we complain about how hungry we are and that we can't stand waiting? The YH wants us to complain; the Yetzer Tov, YT, wants us to be so happy that the banquet is ready to start. That was why I decided to talk about Shabbos. Should we be so happy to have this gift from Hashem? Or, should we see how much we can complain about the other six days of the week when we should enjoy getting ready?
      Yetzer Harah or Yetzer Tov; it is our choice completely as to who is the winner here. It should be us with our dear friend, the YT.

    2. I read this.. and i get sad.. yes i do.

      Because all i have longed for -forever it seems- was - is - to be a Jew.. to have converted... I did try.. but Hashem did not lead me to the right Rabbis.. one there was.. who just sort of played around with my questions,.. and he said you must come here (the place where there are Jews.. and see the beit din(sp?).. i will not mention the city.. but its in the USA.. and when i said if he could find me some place to stay and i would pay.. well... he seemed sort of put of.. and put me off..
      But in my heart I still want to so much.. then i tell myself.. its okay.. just be a good noahide.. but i do not feel satisfied.. so there it is.. is it okay to feel jealous of Gd's Chosen.. not for anything else.. other than why them.. and not me born a Jew....
      Oh .. now too old.. and not really good for much or anyone, and no i am not putting me down.. or feeling sorry.. ah. no that is not true.. i do feel sorry for me.. i cannot help it.

      Rachel at 4.09 Am,, please see my side.. i wish i were you.. and if i could i would change places with you..
      If only : you were me ... and I were you..
      Before you get mad at me.. see but i am also :).. not really..

    3. What are you going to do in the near future when you find out you are Jewish with a Jewish soul? Are you going to say "I take back everything I said about how sad I am, and how I wish I were someone else?"

      Hashem made you who you are, and you should thank Him everyday. You are better off than the 5 billion people on this planet who are not turning to Hashem, and will no longer be around soon to enjoy the wonderful world about to begin. That's right there are 5 billion people who in the near future are going to say "I wish I was S/c." Be happy with whom you are, we are happy to know you exactly the way you are.

    4. Thank you Rav...but...

      but just to answer your first paragraph in your answer to me...Oh if that were to happen..and i found out i was one with a Jewish soul.. i would start dancing with joy.. even knee pain.. shnee pain all forgotten.. then I imagine i would pause, and then look up and say.. why did i not know it all along..
      But i guess i have to now be just what i am, and accept me for who I am.. i am trying.. i really am.. but i keep looking back..

      Oh Rav.. about looking back.. could i send you by email something i wrote about "Time' and looking back..
      that was written someitme ago, just one page.. but i wrote as i felt..

    5. Send me whatever you wish. I am going away this morning, so don't be disappointed if I don't get back to you right away.

  3. So practically, what exactly is it that I am supposed to be DOING to get ready? You talk in generalities with no practical instructions. Do you mean just "be happy?" Easy to tell your emotions how to feel! Ok, so I am thankful for shabbos and looking forwayto the next one. I try to do good and be good and talk to Hashem. Constantly trying to improve every day. So now what?

    1. Perfecting yourself with Teshuvah, Tefillah, Tzedukah, Limud HaTorah, Ahavas Yisroel, doing the Mitzvot, etc. That is very specific and exactly what Hashem wants from you. Whatever area in which you are weak and need to study to increase your scholarship, that is the Limud HaTorah. This brings you much closer to Hashem, and all the world's problems including all our personal problems, He will handle -- guaranteed in writing.

    2. Perfecting yourself with Teshuvah, Tefillah, Tzedukah, Limud HaTorah, Ahavas Yisroel, doing the Mitzvot, etc. That is very specific and exactly what Hashem wants from you. Whatever area in which you are weak and need to study to increase your scholarship, that is the Limud HaTorah. This brings you much closer to Hashem, and all the world's problems including all our personal problems, He will handle -- guaranteed in writing.

  4. Rachel, would you please send me a private Email at There is another reader who wants to talk to you.