Wednesday nights - Rav Benzion's Tanya shiur..........Please continue to daven for the good health of the Rebbe (Yechiel Michel ben Devorah Leah) and Rebbetzin (Feiga bas Sarah).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Yearnings Materialized

I stumbled upon an old post from A Simple Jew where he posted two quotes, one from the Rebbe of Kotzk, zy"a, and another from the Piasetzner Rebbe, zy"a. I found them both to be very connected to what the Rebbe, shlit"a, said on Shabbos about our speech effecting our commitments to change.

Here's the first quote from the holy Kotzker (whose matzeiva is to the left):

"If a person says:
'I will' - that is bad;
'I want to' - that too is not good.
'I’m already doing it' - that is truly good."

On Shabbos, the Rebbe was comparing the terms "I will try" and "I will". "I will try" is noncommittal, shows a lack of resolve and desire to commit in an authentic way to change (transform, become, repent, etc.). Conversely, "I will" shows conviction and "will" to do what you said you were going to do. The Rebbe was highlighting the impact specific word choice has on our ability to stick with our plans. In that context, "I will" is a much better game-plan than "I will try" which essentially means "I would like to do that one day, hypothetically, maybe." The Rebbe was speaking about what it takes to make a commitment. "I will" should make the grade in terms of good speech. The Kotzker is adding that once one has already made the commitment, he must see himself as already in the process of change and continue to up the ante. To make real change requires one to take an honest look at where they are currently, imagine where they want to be, and make a real commitment to be a new person (at least in one area). Don't say, "I will try to change" or even "I will change." Rather say, "I am committed to changing", or better yet, "I am already changing."

(That is just my interpretation of what the Rebbe and the Kotzker said. בדרך אפשר)

Rav Klonymus Kalman of Piasetzna
The second quote was from the Piasetzner Rebbe (in his Tzav V'Ziruz, 23):

"Yearning is of value only if you put it into action as a driving force for reaching higher levels. Otherwise, it will tend to create within you a subtle despair. Without your being aware of it, you will be feeling, 'I have been yearning for so many years and I have accomplished nothing. I must have no further potential.' In the end, you will stop yearning."

I have heard the Rebbe speak about this idea from time to time, reminding us that as much as we want to be close to Hashem, we must never fool ourselves that our yearning and good intentions mean that we have already achieved something. Like what the Rebbe said on Shabbos that saying "I will try" can seduce us to stagnation, by making us think we are on the right path, one can spend his entire life yearning but never doing. How sobering that is.

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