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

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Being a chossid: Obedience and inner change

Be happy, it’s Simchas Torah! Why? Because the Shulchan Aruch says so! Oh, okay.

ad mosai (a demand to Hashem to bring Moshiach)! Why? Because the Rebbe says so! Oh, okay.


Being a Jew is about both
kabbolas ol and pnimiyus.

Kabbolas ol means soldier-like obedience. Hashem is the King, so I follow His orders, the Mitzvos. I do so even when I don’t understand or feel why I should, and at times some of these orders seem odd. I obey regardless, because I believe in Hashem, I know that His intellect is incomparably superior to mine (which He created). He knows better than me, so his edicts must be obeyed. However, this is only the beginning, the foundation of the building.

Pnimiyus means that I change my inner self, until I want what Hashem wants: “Make His will your will” (Pirkei Avos 2:4). I build the edifice of a personal relationship upon the foundation of obedience. The edifice is the motivation: I am motivated to perform Mitzvos and I do so with a deeply-felt enthusiasm and excitement (ahavas Hashem); I am motivated to avoid sinning, and I do so with a profound sense of awe and trepidation (yiras Hashem).

Being a Chabad
chossid is also about both kabbolas ol and pnimiyus.

Kabbolas ol means that I follow the Rebbe’s orders—because they are essentially G–d’s orders, of course—even if I don’t understand and feel why I should. The Rebbe is my general, my king, so I obey. I feel a certain emotional connection and identification with what I do, but only because of my having accepted him as my Rebbe. I feel little personal identification with the things that the Rebbe tells me to do, and I have difficulty grasping why they are important, but I obey out of the minimum belief in the concept that “the Shechinah speaks in the mouth of Moshe” (Zohar 3:232a, ibid. 3:7a).

In short, when
Shulchan Aruch tells a Jew to do something, or the Rebbe tells a chossid to do something, then he must obey regardless of whether he feels a personal connection with the matter. Obedience is the beginning of one’s relationship with Hashem as a Jew, and with the Rebbe as a chossid. Still, one should realize that if that’s all there is to the relationship, then something is fundamentally lacking.

Pnimiyus means I change my inner self, until I want what the Rebbe wants—which is, of course, a deeper way of connecting with what Hashem wants. I enjoy learning Chassidus, davvenen (praying) according to Chassidus, fulfilling the Rebbe’s instructions in all areas, and emulating his example. I don’t enjoy these things because the Rebbe said I should enjoy them—which would be a very superficial feeling—but because I actually understand why they are important, and this brings me to feel it deeply.

Similarly, I don’t avoid that which the Rebbe says to avoid “just because the Rebbe says so,” but because I truly understand why such a course of action is undesirable and so I find it emotionally repulsive. The inspiration gained through learning Chassidus and conducting myself according to the ways of Chassidus in turn infuses my observance of Mitzvos with an extra ahavas Hashem and yiras Hashem that is otherwise unattainable (see here). And even if I have not yet actually attained this level, it is my genuine aspiration and I am steadily working towards it.

The only way to truly feel excited about something holy is to work on it really hard. To learn, to meditate, to
davven with the concept. If one is not doing these things, then he can assume that his connection with the matter is superficial. It’s at best kabbolas ol, and possibly not even that (because kabbolas ol alone rarely lasts—but that’s for another blog post).

In a way, being a chossid in certain superficial (albeit important) areas (e.g., dress, customs, etc.) and not regularly working on changing one’s
pnimiyus is simply missing the whole point. The whole purpose of the introduction of Chassidus was to infuse vital inspiration into one’s avodas Hashem. That is the inner goal that all the more external aspects exist to serve.

To sum up, being a Chabad
chossid is not about being a yes-man. It’s about following a program that brings one to feel the most sublime and profound intellectual and emotional bond with Hashem possible until Moshiach comes, and thus as ready as possible for Moshiach when he comes. But the only way to get there is hard, perhaps even grueling labor. There ain’t no short cuts.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment! :)