"Moshiach is ready to come now-our part is to increase in acts of goodness and kindness" -The Rebbe

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Inner Harmony By Living Up to the Inner Self

Inner Harmony By
Living Up to the Inner Self

Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver

I once had a disagreement with someone: Can someone who doesn’t follow Torah and mitzvos be truly happy and fulfilled? 

He argued that yes, one can, and adduced the “fact” that “there are plenty of intermarried couples who live happily.”

I differed, maintaining that by the
Jew’s very nature, he needs to keep Torah and Mitzvos, so if he doesn’t, he will invariably be unhappy. This is also true of a tinok she’nishba, one raised without a proper Jewish education

As for the apparent shalom bayis (marital harmony) of some intermarried couples, I responded, you never know what goes on behind closed doors. If the Torah says that Jews may only marry Jews, they simply cannot be happy living with non-Jews. Put differently, there is a true happiness and bond that can only come through marrying a fellow Jew.

(Of course, this is not to suggest that basic Torah observance is a guaranteed one-way ticket to happiness, for the evil inclination comes to every person on his or her level and seeks to bring him or her to fall. In fact,
chapters 26, 31, and 33 of Tanya explicitly address the need to increase the joy even of someone who has already attained the lofty level of beinoni.)

However, when I found the following
sicha and showed it to him, I was vindicated. Here the Rebbe clearly states that one who does not follow Torah and mitzvos will not be normal and healthy; rather, he will suffer from a split personality due to the intense internal war raging within him:

When one chooses in an undesirable manner, he is in effect waging war against his neshamah, for his neshamah is in a pure state; it cannot tolerate non-kosher food and drink, and cannot tolerate behavior that is not in the spirit of Judaism!

Thus, when one chooses in an undesirable manner, and fights against his
neshamah, this causes him to have a split personality. His soul pulls him to act in one way, while his body pulls him to act in the opposite manner. Such behavior damages his neshamah.

In other words, it is incorrect to say that regardless which path he chooses, he will remain a normal, healthy person, for when he chooses a path that is inconsistent with the spirit of Judaism, he damages his true self—his 

The only reason that the damage that results from this—both to the person himself and to others—is not evident immediately is that G–d is patient, and gives him the opportunity to grasp the truth.

A person cannot change his true self. Even a child understands that he can change his clothes, but cannot change his nose, and he certainly cannot change the source of his life, his soul. Thus, his general behavior ought to conform with his neshamah, and then he will receive assistance from his soul in all his activities.

Then he will be healthy and whole, there will be no internal war raging between his “left ventricle” [the location of the evil inclination] and his “right ventricle” [the location of the good inclination] at every step of the way, for they will both be following the same groove, [as our sages say in
Berachos 54a, that when we are told to serve G–d] “with all your hearts [in the plural],” this means “with your two inclinations” [both the good and evil inclinations].

Thus, a Jew should behave in a way that it is recognizable that he is a son of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, and for women, that she is a daughter of Sarah, Rivkah, Rochel, and Leah, and in a way that this behavior is evident to all the nations of the world. They should all see that he acts like a Jew, and does not strive to hide his true identity.

Hisva’aduyos 5742, Vol. 2, pp. 954See this letter of the Rebbe, which expresses the same concept. See also Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 2, p. 574.

The same can be extended to a chossid. A chossid’s inner state depends upon the extent to which he devotes himself to growing and developing in his implementation of the directives of the Rebbeim in all areas. As a chossid, this is what his neshamah needs in order to connect to its root in the Rebbe, its Neshamah Kelalis (“general soul”). In doing so consistently, confidently, and unashamedly, he will find joy, personal fulfillment, satisfaction, and inner harmony. Conversely, if he is feeling unfulfilled and dissatisfied, this may well be due to his neglectfulness in fulfilling the directives of the Rebbeim.


  1. And what of behaviors which are acceptable according to halacha, but not necessarily what people see as the proper way to act? One example: The woman in Ludomir who became a Rebbe, never got married. Or did, when pressed, and divorced when her husband realized she couldn't be a wife. She didn't do anything against Torah or mitzvot, conducted herself appropriately, and yet she was frowned upon. Would you say that she had internal issues as well?

  2. 1. I'm curious as to the halachic dispensation for her not marrying, considering the halacha:

    ולא תשב אשה בלא איש שלא תחשד.
    רמב"ם הלכות אישות פרק טו הלכה טז

    2. As for your question itself (leaving aside your example) Halacha is the minimum, absolute requirement for a Jew. What is considered proper behaviour is another story. That is dependent upon the person. As the Gemoro says: “What is chillul Hashem? ...R’ Yochanan said: ‘Someone like me, who goes four amos without Torah and without tefillin’ “ (Yoma 86a). Indeed, if one doesn't act according to what is appropriate for him personally (as with the demands of a Chossid that I discuss at the end of my post), he will indeed be unappy.

  3. 1) I doubt, given her standing, anyone was חושד her; therefore, since that is the reason given, it would not apply here.

    2) Okay. That, then, is lav davka something that anyone but the person himself can measure; thus saying that a tinok shenishba is unhappy is lav davka true.

  4. 1. Perhaps that is the explanation.

    2a. No, on the contrary, the example of chillul Hashem in the Gemara cited in the previous post expresses the notion that other people ARE able to sense what is proper behavior for people on a more advanced level than themselves.

    2b. The sicha says clearly that someone without Torah and Mitzvos is unhappy. It's not another person saying so, it's the Torah saying so.

    2c. As I explained clearly in my last comment on this post, there is a clear difference between observing the minimum halachic requirement, which every Jew needs for the health of his Neshama, and observing higher standards, which depends upon the person. When it comes to the former, any violation of Halacha will make create an internal imbalance, but when it comes to higher standards, only laxness in terms of the standard of behavior expected of *this particular individual* will have this impact. I think the matter is clear.

  5. 2c. But lav davka does that mean that if he isn't up to your standards, he is unhappy.

  6. When did I mention living up to standards expected for me? I stated clearly that each person ought to live up to the standards expected for that particular individual in order to find personal happiness and fulfillment.


Thank you for your comment! :)