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).

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Passion Must Be Yours

Today after Shachris the Rebbe spoke about zealousness and in what context and under what conditions zealousness is praiseworthy. Zeal is a passionate response to the indignation one feels when confronted with something that he just can't let happen. The Rebbe mentioned that if one sees someone doing something wrong and they come to Beis Din and ask what they should do, the court must not give a p'sak or advice but tell the person that he is on his own. Zealousness must be passionate; it must be self-generated. It cannot come about under the direction of others. You have to take care of business because in your gut you know that you absolutely cannot stand to watch this offense take place.

This resonates very much with something the Rebbe told me a few years ago. "You have to be a little extreme if you want to get anything done in this world." That's it, that is what the Rebbe told me. Now, I know good and well that extremism and zeal are two distinct concepts. However, to be zealous about something in today's world is often viewed as extreme. To truly care about something passionately, in a deep and committed way, and to take action based on that caring, to care more about your principles than the commonly accepted status quo, and to ignore what others may think or say about your leaping away from mediocrity and indifference is how I understand the extremism that the Rebbe was referring to.

The Rebbe's brother, HaRav Shloime of Denver, ztz"l, once said, "The place of a decision is the loneliest place in the world." Any decision must ultimately be made by the individual, and all the more so something that requires personally invested passion and fervor.

Anytime a person's resolve is tested, his commitment is strained and he is faced with the decision to give in to his habits and desires or to move himself out of the way this one more time, it is really no different than Pinchas witnessing Zimri's insolent act. If we were to see the heinous, gruesome abuse of a good friend's daughter our blood would boil, our hair would stand on end and we would spring into action, responding violently, passionately and with no reservations, disregarding personal concerns of any magnitude. Were we to view the abuse of our neshomas in a similar light, we would react the same way. How can we stand by and watch while we steal from ourselves, murder ourselves, worship ourselves? So any decision we have to make, hundreds per day, can be approached with the zealousness of Pinchas. In order to do that properly, to harness the passion, however, we must conclude on our own what the appropriate course of action should be. If our teachers give us all the answers, they are in essence disallowing us from finding that place within us that defines who we are.

Finding that passionate responsiveness, both in the avodah of our personal sphere and in the world outside of ourselves, must be self-generated. We can have guides and teachers to help us decode our lives and experiences but at the end of the day, when we need to know if we should push a little more, if we should take the leap, if we should stick by our guns and not give up an inch of the field, we need to look within and listen to Hashem's gift to mankind, the soft, still voice of our intuition.

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