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

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On developing positive emotions

On developing positive emotions 

Rabbi Y. Oliver

Everyone possesses both good and bad middos, emotional character traits. Some exist innately, from birth, while others are learnt from others, whether by direct inculcation, or by example.

Moreover, “Hashem made this one”—the side of impurity—“opposite this one”[1]—the side of holiness. So not only do both kinds of emotions exist, but they parallel one another. For example, although kindness is typically positive, it can also take on an evil form. Strictness is often negative, but it can also come out positive—and so on (see here).

Altogether, every person possesses seven emotional traits: The seven positive traits, which correspond to the seven branches of the Menorah in the Beis Hamikdash,[2] and their seven negative counterpart emotions, which correspond to the seven wicked nations that inhabited the land of Canaan until the Jews conquered it.

Actions are dictated by emotions. Intellectual awareness alone will not bring forth a commensurate action. Emotions constitute the energy and drive that bring intellectual convictions down into action.

Thus, one’s emotions are very important: By developing positive, holy emotions, one spurs oneself to good actions: Love of Hashem inspires one to perform positive Mitzvos, while fear of Hashem inspires one to refrain from violating negative Mitzvos.[3]

Conversely, negative emotions naturally draw the person to commit wicked deeds—sins—or permitted deeds with only selfish intent, without the desire to serve Hashem. Likewise, they entice the person to be idle and not exert oneself to perform Mitzvos to the extent of one’s capabilities. And just as we were commanded to expel the seven nations from the Land, so are we commanded to banish our negative emotions from within, so that that they not lead us to sin. Then we can truly “settle the Land” within by cultivating positive and even holy emotions.

May Hashem grant us much inner strength to overcome and banish the negative and selfish emotions within, and develop and ingrain within ourselves positive and holy emotions. This effects an “inner redemption” which hastens the coming of the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach—may he come to redeem us today!

Based on the Rebbe's Toras Menachem 5718, Vol. 22, p. 88 ff. See continuation here.

[1] Koheles 7:14.
[2] Torah Ohr 32b.
[3] Tanya beg. ch. 4.

This post was dedicated by Shmuli Markel and family (Shmuel Leib ben Esther and Sara Rochel bas Chaya Nechomoh), and by Yisroel Meir Raphael and family.

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