Category Archives: growth

Have you found your purpose?

Pic found here

Last week I read a post from A Simple Jew based on a pasuk in Tehillim. He writes:

חיים שאל ממך נתתה לוLife he requested of You, You gave it to him. (Tehillim 21:5)
Hashem, You have given me life, but You keep the tachlis of why you sent my neshamah down into this world hidden from me!  How can you expect me to fulfill my mission if you don’t even tell me what that mission is?  What will I be accountable for once I return my neshamah to You?  What is my true potential that You want me to live up to?
Hashem, I am asking for life from You – but not the life of an animal who merely exists to fulfill its bodily desires.  I am asking for a life in which each day I can work to fulfill the tachlis of why You put me here in this world.

I posted the following comment:
When I was first married I spent “hisbodedus time” focused on this question.  It wasn’t until I heard a shiur on B’nai Machshava Tova (given by R Weinberger) that I, sort of, gave up this path of thinking. R Weinbeger mentioned the importance of realizing when to cheshbon and think about things.  The example he gave, I believe, was about greeting someone after minyan in the morning.  You can think to yourself, “I wonder how this person is?  I want to wish him a good day, but what if he had a bad morning or has a presentation at work in 2 two hours and is stressing out about.” The other option is just to say, “I hope you have a great day!”

Sometimes, we over think too many things.  I am often guilty of this.

I remember specifcally the Simchas Torah of 2001 and thinking about this.  The shul I was in was singing a song that I really didn’t like and not many people were dancing.  I started to chesbon that I wasn’t such a lebedik song to begin with and if I danced, I’d end up only being the 6th person in the circle.  I caught myself and realized that I was wasting an opportunity to show my love for the Torah and just jumped in and danced.

I have found, that if I am really plugged into my observant life as a Jew with davening, learning, doing what I am obligated to do on a daily basis, then eventually I get an idea for something or opportunities come up that I find ruchnius-rooted fullfilment in doing.

I think that we all are trying to figure out how we can fit our piece into the larger puzzle that makes up Hashem’s plan for us in this world.  We all want a purpose, a mission statement, or a compass that directs us.  Micha Berger found his mission statement, based on the introduction to the sefer Shaarei Yosher (you can read about this and his excellent plan of actualizing that statement here).

In an off-blog discussion with A Simple Jew we shared some ideas about the different ways of focusing on this mystery of tachlis, purpose.   I had tried the deep contemplation method and, for me, it didn’t work.  As I commented above, I find that when I’m following the path of the “regular” things an observant Jew is meant to do, there are time when “purpose” comes my way.  Sometimes not thinking too much about something yields results.  This is based on chapter 4 of Jewish Meditation by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan zt’l, he describes the difference between being “locked on” a specific problem and another way to solve an issue.  He writes:

The appears to be, however another type of problem-solving consciousness.  The first time I became aware of this was when, in the course of Kabbalistic research, I was trying to figure out the properties of a five-dimentional hypercube.   The problem was extremely difficult, since it involved trying to visualize what would happen when the hypercube was rotated through five-dimensional space.  I had spent several afternoons sweating over the problem, without even coming close to a solution.

Then, one evening, I was relaxing in the bathtub, and mymind wandered to the problem, almost offandedly. Suddenly, every aspect of the problem seemed peferectly clear, and the relationships that had been impossibly complex were now easy to visualze and understand.  By the time I got out of the tub, I had worked out the problem completely.

Eventually, I began to realized that this was happening to me often.  Sitting in the tub was an excellent time to solve the most difficult problems.  But the expereince was very different from being locked on to problem. Quite to the contrary, the mind was free to wander wherever it watned, but it seemed tohit upon the right answers with surprising clarity. 

This method might not work for everyone, but focusing on the question of tachlis mostly directs me to the proverbial brick wall.  If you want to talk tachlis, then we all know that our neshama is happy when we are doing what we are supposed to be doing…following a life of Torah u’Mitzvos.   I know, on a very deep level, that there are certain actions and avodas Hashem that I can engage in where I feel energized (for years it was when I was involved in kiruv and informal education).  The reality is that, I currently spend the majority of my day working in my profession (which has opportunities for me to be m’kadesh Hashem).  However, I know that my identity isn’t based on my job, there’s more to who I am.  Since am I not learning full-time (ok, I haven’t really learned full-time since my 2 years in E”Y) and working, it is hard to find that real ruchniyus-type purpose while replying to work emails, dealing with traffic, taking phone calls, and attending meetings.

I have heard, read, and told myself that having a job and getting that set amount of money every two weeks is really for the purpose of supporting my family, paying tuition, buying food to enhance Shabbos Kodesh, and so forth.  This mindset is something that has to be a constant reminder and, I admit, I don’t think about it enough.   The popularity of Daf Yomi might, in fact, be due to the masses of those, like me, who are working and attempting to find a higher purpose in things.  Learning a daf or anything on a daily basis gives one a sense of direction, accomplishment, and purpose.  It’s the same thing if you have committed to attending a weekly shiur.  You know that for a specific amount of time you are accomplishing something in the realm of learning Torah.

However, and don’t hit me because I’m wearing glasses. just because one is learning on a regular basis, that doesn’t mean that you are exempt from finding a greater purpose.  I don’t think, and I can say this because I started the new daf yomi cycle, that the daf is all that Hashem wants me to do.  So find a mission statement, or dedicate 20 minutes a day to asking Hashem to give you insight into your purpose, or just take a bath.  If these ideas don’t work, then ask a close friend or people at a kiddush if they have found their purpose.  I can let you in on a little secret, when I ask myself this question, I can safely stay that it probably involves:

  • Being able to get up in the morning (I am not a morning person)
  • Trying to do things to help my wife and children (hard because, by nature, I am selfish)

I am sure there are more things that encompass big ideas like making observance more meaningful, breaking down stereotypes of observant Judaism, and teaching others why they are important to Judaism.  I suppose that just realizing we have a purpose is a good start, too.

After the Chicago Siyum HaShas

Location of the Chicago Siyum HaShas

It’s been almost a week since the Chicago Siyum HaShas event. I held off on posting right way, because I was curious if the excitement of the celebration that I felt, along with my 12 yr old son, was just just a flash of light or something more lasting. Just that fact that the theater, which holds 4,400 people was pretty much sold out still blows my mind.
Looking back, there were a few things that I viewed as highlights.
Organization: The fact that months of planning and coordinating went into making the event run smoothly was evident. The Agudath Israel did an amazing job from start to finish. Emails were sent describing in detail where to park, which entrances to use, information about snacks for purchase prior to the event, etc. Countless committee chairs, volunteers and staff spent countless hours helping. It was also planned that there was one unified mincha and maariv.
Hakoras HaTov: The speakers at the Chicago event included HaRav Shmuel Fuerst (who gave Dvrei Praicha), a video of HaRav Shmuel Kamentsky (which was broadcasted life from MetLife), HaRav Uren Reich (who gave Dvrei Chizuk), HaRosh Yeshiva Avrohom Chaim Levin (who made the Siyum), Rav Gedaliah Dov Shwartz (who made Hascholas HaShas), and Rav Yissocher Frand (whose address was broadcasted live, as well). Each of the Rabbonim made specific mention of the Hakoras HaTov that must be given to the wife and children of those who are involved in Daf Yomi.
Enertainment: After the Siyum we were treated to a men’s choir made up of people from across the community, truly representing Klal Yisrael. Their voices blending together making harmony gave all who listened a sample of what true achdus is all about. They were accompanied by HaTav Orchastra. Many of us broke into dancing and, I admit, it was very cool dancing with people I didn’t even know celebrating the greatness of Torah. I will also say that the two videos we say, “Daf through the Decades” and “Heroes of the Daf” were very moving.
A physical connection to Daf Yomi: A touching moment, for me, in Chicago was when HaRav Gedalia Dov Schwartz (Av Beis Din for the RCA and the cRc) was given the kavod of saying the beginning of Gemara Berachos. He held up and used a gemara he received for his Bar Mitzvah. It was printed in Petrakov, where Rav Meir Shapiro was Rav in 1931, the year of the first Siyum HaShas…I got chills. That is totally amazing, because it’s something physical that make the connection real for all of us.
Rabbi Frand: As always, he was wonderful. It was nice, for the Chicago people. that he spoke so much about Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel zt’l. That line at then of his address, “Beyond your reach is really within your grasp” was golden. Rav Frand’s address was a live feed. I happened to tweet that line after he said it and saw that a friend at the NY Siyum tweeted the same thing 14 seconds before me. I was so inspired, that I created (thanks to a google search and a little background in graphic design from the mid-1990s) the image below. I use it as a lock-screen for my phone. Every time I use my phone it reminds me to keep on going a little further than I think I can. Great mussar for me.
My wife mentioned to me a week and a half before the Siyum that we have been married for 15 years and had I been “doing” Daf Yomi this could have been my second Siyum HaShas. She only meant it as a comment, but I took it to heart and, bli neder, I have committed to learning Daf Yomi in a shiur (so far I have hit both morning and evening shiurim every day) in hope of being a participant and not just an observer at the next Siyum HaShas.
In the short time that I’ve been learning Daf Yomi I have noticed two very interesting things about myself. Firstly, I am constantly thinking ahead about my schedule for the upcoming days and what shiur I will attend (BH we have a multitude of shiuim and I am still trying to find a good time and magid shiur to attach myself with). Secondly, I have felt much more creative and energized that I have in years. I won’t chalk it up completely to the koach of limud Torah, but it is probably more due to the residual wave of excitement of starting something new.
Current lock-screen, optimized for Android and iPhone.  Please feel free to use it.

The Netziv on gardening

Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago

Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner posted an amazing translation of a beautiful poem by Rav Kook zt’l a few weeks ago.  The poem was part of great shiur titled, “A groundbreaking approach to Geulah”, available to stream or download here

One of the sources Rabbi Torczyner shared in the shiur is a Netziv that I found quite meaningful.  It appearss below, courtesy of the source sheet (available at the link above):

R’ Naftali Zvi Yehudah Berlin to Bamidbar 24
That which grows in a garden is not like that which grows in a field; a field is planted with only one or two varieties, as opposed to gardens which have many kinds of seeds. Still, each garden has one central variety, and it’s only that small quantities of other varieties are planted around it. So, too, each Jew is filled with the mitzvot of Gd, but each has one special mitzvah in which he is extra careful, as is seen in the Mechilta, “One who performs a single mitzvah, faithfully, is worthy of Divine inspiration.” Regarding the mishnah that states, ”One who performs a single mitzvah receives goodness,” the Talmud Yerushalmi explains, “This refers to performing a mitzvah with exceptional care.”

We can spend years searching within ourselves to find that one mitzvah, but as explained in both Chassidus and Mussar, the mitzvah that is usually the most difficult for you, is the one that is the “centeral variety” within your garden.

Reflection on Rejection

Picture from here
There are times when we put ourselves out there and the result is rejection.  I am not a big fan of being rejected or, while I’m at it, constructive feedback (which is now what people previously referred to as criticism).  I understand the whole, “message is really from Hashem” thing that we commonly associate with negative things that happen or are said to us.  Seeing how I gravitate towards mussar and self growth, you’d think that I’d be all about constructive feedback and, even, rejection. I’m not.  I’m sensitive and don’t like like it. I listen, process, accept and attempt to change course, but my natural reaction is usually one of resistance.  As an armchair analysis, this is probably, davka, why I like mussar, since growth sometimes comes after uncomfortable criticism.
My wife, in her infinite wisdom, thinks this is due to not being involved in organized sports when I was growing up (sadly rag-tag soccer games and skateboarding doesn’t really as “organized sports”).  Had I played baseball when I was growing up I would have dealt with the reality of striking out, missing catches, and losing games.  I grew up playing video games on Atari and a Franklin Ace 1000 (a clone of the Apple II+).  If you lost a game then you simply restarted or moved on to something else.  There isn’t any personal connection or a blow to the ego if you lose at a video game.  Your future success isn’t impeded by being defeated in Defender, Dig Dug, or any of the Zork adventure games.
A number of weeks ago I wrote something that I thought was worth sharing beyond this blog.  I contacted a national Jewish newspaper, a Jewish website, and an online Jewish journal.  Respectively, the feedback was:
  • A very well written piece, but it might be misinterpreted by more right wing elements
  • While we liked the essay, the writing on our website is focused on the not-yet-observant Jew
  • No reply
I got the message.  What I wrote either wasn’t meant for those platforms, or, simply, should just remain on this blog.  I am not sure what will become of this essay, but the whole rejection process reminded me of the snippets that I posted once from two rejection letters that Georger Lucas received after pitching Star Wars to different movie studios.  Sadly there is neither a a chapter on rejection in Orchos Tzaddikim nor a series of mp3 from Rav Weinberger that I can draw strength from.
Rejection, failure, or reassessing a situation is part of life.  In a panel discussion with Dr. David Pelcovitz and Mr. Moishe Bane there is a great lesson given.  Reb Moishe Bane mentions that one of the key life lessons he feels it’s important for people to learn is the “glory of failure” as he calls it.  He mentions that there have been countless times that a CEO or yeshiva administrator has had to deal with the reality of not being able to make payroll and has had to chose to find funds via unethical means or simply swallow their pride and admit failure. The latter choice is where the “glory of failure” come in. We learn from our mistakes and grow from the experience.
Thinking about this, I came up with a few examples that might be of comfort for anyone who feels beaten down, rejected, or is simply pushed up against the the wall.  Over course, were I to go through the many inspirational stories penned by R Paysach Krohn, R Yechiel Spero, or the “Small Miracles” books, we would be here forever.  I won’t even mention any of the amazing stories from Hassidic Tales of the Holocaust. 
Parshas Va’eschanan– Moshe’s plea to enter Eretz Yisrael and Hashem telling him that it wouldn’t happen.
Interestingly, in Likutei Moharan II, lesson 78, Reb Nachman taught: “Gevalt! Never give up. There is never a reason to give up.” This was said toward the end of Reb Nachman’s life on a Shabbos and is connected to the parsha listed above, actually. See Reb Nachman’s Wisdom #153 (pages 302-306 of this pdf).*
Reb Jonathan Rosenblum writes about the struggle of starting the Gatehead Kollel:

THE LATE SUMMER OF 1941 found Rabbi Dessler in Chesham in Buckinghamshire along with other Jewish refugees from the constant German bombing of London. He was once again separated from his entire family. His son Nachum Velvel was learning in Telshe Yeshiva in the United States; his wife Bluma and daughter Hennie were trapped in Kelm at the outbreak of the War and were fortunate to be able to wend their way to Australia for the duration.
Rabbi Dessler was then in his fifty-first year, and had but 12 years left to live. Though many of his classic essays had already been formulated, not one word had been published except in stencils for his talmidim. Had Rabbi Dessler passed away then his name and thought would have been lost to posterity.

That summer a letter arrived at his lodgings from Rabbi Dovid Dryan, the mohel of Gateshead and founder of the fledgling Gateshead Yeshiva. Reb Dovid proposed the establishment of a kollel of outstanding young kollel scholars in Gateshead. Unbeknownst to Rabbi Dessler, Reb Dovid had sent the same letter to 21 other rabbis. Also unbeknownst to him, every other rabbi responded negatively to Reb Dovid’s suggestion: 18 did not bother to answer at all; another 3 commended the idea but decided it was impracticable under the wartime circumstances. The naysayers might have added that the number of those who appreciated the importance of Torah learning, much less the concept of Torah lishma, in England in those days in were few indeed. The few yeshivos that existed were small in size, and the idea of Kollel learning was unknown.
Rabbi Dessler alone replied positively to Reb Dovid’s letter: “My heart sees a great light in the matter which Your Honor suggested – your merit is very great.” He replied as he did not because he saw success as guaranteed, but because he viewed the matter as too important not to try.With Rabbi Dessler’s encouraging response to Reb Dovid Dryan’s letter, the face of English and all European Jewry was changed forever. By early 1942, the first group of young scholars was already in place.

If R Dovid Dryan had not written 22 letters initially we would ever have had what became Gatehead.
Learning in yeshiva I often heard a story about the Rav zt’l that I sort of thought was an urban legend. However, it was told over by Dr. Norman Lamm at a hesped he gave for the Rav.

It was my second year in his sheur, and I was intimidated and in awe of him as was every other talmid-that is, almost everyone else. There was one student, the youngest and one of the brightest, who was clearly the least frightened or awed. The Rav had been developing one line of thought for two or three weeks, when this talmid casually said, “But Rebbe, the Hiddushei Ha-Ran says such-and-such which contradicts your whole argument.” The Rav was stunned, held his head in his hands for three agonizingly long minutes while all of us were silent, then pulled out a sheaf of papers from his breast pocket, crossed out page after page, said that we should forget everything he had said, and announced that the sheur was over and he would see us the next day.
I Iearned two things from this remarkable episode. First, we were overwhelmed by his astounding intellectual honesty. With his mind, he could easily have wormed his way out of the dilemma, manipulated a text here and an argument there, maybe insulted an obstreperous student, and rescued his theory and his ego. But the Rav did nothingof the sort! He taught, by example, the overarching goal of all Torah study as the search for Truth. That search for Truth was of the essence of his activity in Torah, and we witnessed it in action. He encouraged independent thinking by his pupils as a way to ensure his own search for the truth of Torah. The Rav was authoritative, but not authoritarian. No “musar shmuess” no lecture in ethics-could have so successfully inculcated in us respect for the truth at all costs.

The second lesson came with the anti-climax to the story. The very next day, it was a Wednesday, the Rav walked into class with a broad, happy grin on his face, held out his copy of the Hiddushei Ha-Ran, and said to the talmid, “Here-now read it correctly? The Rav had been right all along…. 

That willingness to change course is also a source of inspiration.  The Alter of Slabodka totally switched his own derech ha mussar and the result was a focus on the greatness of man and not on the weakness of humanity, as posted here.
I have heard and read stories of both Chassidim, especially Lubavitchers, and Novardok yeshiva students and the terrible conditions in Sibera that they went through.  Many fought long and hard and survived, while others didn’t.  The end result is that we have to keep plugging.  For me, this means that while my first official attempt at getting an essay published didn’t quite work out how I wanted it to, I haven’t given up.

* Thanks to A Simple Jew for pointing me to the lesson of Prostuk

Free shiur from Rav Moshe Weinberger has is offering a free shiur for a limited time.  I have heard half of it alreay and it’s amazing and, even more than usual, Rav Weinberger cuts to the heart of the matter on several topics in a clear and emesdik way.  The following was sent in an email:

Rav Weinberger – Almost Completely “Unfiltered!”

If you are ready to hear the truth, read on. And if you never, ever get another shiur (Heaven forbid!) or have never downloaded a shiur from this site, then this is the one to get – and it’s FREE!

The sparks were flying (literally, if you consider the nitzotzos of our neshamos) this past erev Shabbos during the Rav Kook shiur The Short Long Way and The Long Short Way, Especially In A Filtered World. Rav Weinberger used a Rav Kook essay that was not included in Oros HaTorah, to teach that there is a “short long” way and a “long short” way to reach a goal.

The “short long” way consists of shortcuts and superficial methodologies to quickly deal with the issue at hand. For example – I have been diagnosed with tennis elbow. It hurts and prevents me from lifting heavy objects due to the pain. The “short long” path (which I have taken for the past two months) is to take pain killers. This reduces the pain and allows my arm to function almost completely normally. However, the pain killers, while addressing the symptom, don’t solve the underlying problem.

The “long short” way (started last week) means adjusting the way I grip my power tools and bicycle handle bars, wearing an arm strap, some physical therapy and icing the muscle and elbow area frequently. While this path will likely take longer, it addresses the cause of the symptom.  

Back to the shiur…after a only a few minutes Rebbi began talking (“talking” is really much too tame a term, but I was not able to find a nice synonym for “yelling”) about filtering the Internet, filtering girls, in fact, filtering out the entire world; he mentioned the events of a few months ago in Ramat Beit Shemesh, addressed teenager inter-gender relationships and trying to maintain shalom bayis by merely buying your spouse some flowers on erev Shabbos.

This is not how we become Jews who “know” Hashem and each other. We will not become closer to Him if our teachers, parents [and leaders] intimidate us and threaten us with gehinnom. Rebbi advocates that we must teach our children, beginning with first grade in the right, loving way and connect them by example to the Ribbonoh shel Olam. That is the path.

A very close friend commented about the shiur: “I love Rebbi the way he is now, but this is the Rebbi I fell in love with.”

OK. I got it off my chest – but really… this is a MUST HEAR shiur. Tell your friends, and family members… remember, it’s free!

Have a good Shabbos.

Moshe C.

P.S. You do know about our $6.99 for FIFTY shiurim monthly plan, right?

Fifty shades of Frum

Really low-tech graphic by me

For the past two months I have been trying to figure out a way to write this post without it seeming like I am: ranting, being hypocritical, ignorant, preachy, or being non-tzenu’ah (immodest).

There’s a line that we all have an option of crossing.  What and where that line is is usually based on our upbringing, education, spouse, acceptable standard within the community, Rabbonim, media (even Jewish newspapers/websites), and friends.  The term “fifty shades” refers to, from what filter-based-internet research I have done, the complexities and layers of a person.  No, I haven’t read any of the books, but I’ve heard about them.  They are in the news, on the radio and in the hands of people who are reading them, for a multitude of reasons.  That isn’t the point of this post, however.

Judaism may seems to be black and white, but grey does exist (although “grey” usually means that there are several opinions about something, thus giving you other options besides “A” and “B”).  Most people, well, at least this person, love being in the grey area.  Not because it exists in the form of a reshus, (something that isn’t an outright mitzvah, yet isn’t assur), but because I pick and define my own grey area.  I feel a sense of ownership of my self-defined grey areas.  Something a person may grey as reading a secular newspaper, listening or watching sports, listening to music of their youth, watching a movie with language that we would be shocked to hear from our children’s mouths, reading a magazine with articles that we would never let our daughters read, or spending our free time with friends doing things that we wouldn’t want to share on Facebook.  Grey may be the words we say, the things we smoke, the books we read, the liquids drink, things we wear, or the websites we go to when we fool ourselves into thinking that no is watching.  Grey is what we make it.

Grey is the new pareve, or so we chesbonize.  We wouldn’t ever think of mixing meat and milk, yet we all are big fans of pareve soy milk, creamer, margarine, dark chocolate, and pareve ice cream.  Pareve has as the luxury of not being milchig or fleishig.  I, all too often ascribe my grey areas the distinction of pareve.  Sometimes, though, they are not.  Heck, just this past Sunday on my bike ride I listened to three secular songs that are as clean as my kittel, yet they lacked the kedusha of that garment (on the level of why my kittel was manufactured and also in how my kittel has been used).  Grey is totally how we see it.

Many years ago I sold over 80 CDs and cassettes (when people still bought them).  I did this for mostly two reasons.  I wanted to “m’kadesh them, by selling them and using the money to buy seforim and also because I didn’t want them in my home, due to some of the lyrics (not necessarily profanity, but more based on the sub-culture of hardcore punk music).  Don’t fret, we still have a big handful of secular stuff sandwiched between Uncle Moishy CD, HASC Concerts, and Piamenta.  Most of it is grey music, of course (written with a smile).

Well over 20 years ago, I once joked with someone and said, “I’m a baal teshuva.  There isn’t any grey with me, only black and white.”  Relax, it’s not as harsh as it sounds.  What I then explained was that my view on things was simply either something is kosher (acceptable) or it isn’t.  Either it has value/k’dusha or it doesn’t.  Rabbi Yosef Yozel Hurwitz, the Alter of Novardok said it like this:  A utensil can be either michlig, fleishig, or pareve.  A person can’t be pareve, he must be one or the other.

I can try to make things as grey as I want them to be, but it is me who is making them grey and the world doesn’t really run based on the biased meanings and values that I give things.  Sometimes, I find myself taking what is clearly dark-dark grey and slowly rationalizing it.  With each thought, action, excuse or indulgence slowly dark-dark grey becomes, dark grey, then not-so dark grey, which becomes grey, which then becomes light-grey, which become light-light grey, which is really almost white.  Grey exists, and I’m cool with that.  Either what I may view as grey can be used to get me closer to Hashem and my mission as a Jew in this world or it simply diverts me from that goal.

The forgotten "Erev-Shabbath" Jews

Rav Soloveitchik zt’l from Dr. Peli’s On Repentance:

“Please allow me to make a ‘private confession’ concerning a matter that has caused me much loss of sleep… I still remember- it was not so long ago- when Jews were still close to God and lived in an atmosphere pervaded with holiness. But today, what do we see? The profane and the secular are in control everywhere we turn.
Even in those neighborhoods made up predominantly of religious Jews, one can no longer talk of the ‘sanctity of Shabbat.’ True, there are Jews in America who observe Shabbath. The label ‘Sabbath obverver” has come to be used as a title of honor in our circles just like HaRav HaGaon neither really indicate anything and both testify to the lowly state of our generation. But it is not for Shabbath that my heart aches; it is for the forgotten ‘erev Shabbath’ . There are Shabbat-observing Jews in America, but there are no ‘erev Shabbath’ Jews who go out to greet Shabbat with beating hearts and pulsating souls. There are many who observe the precepts with their hands, with their feet, and/or with their mouths – but there are few indeed who truly know the meaning of the service of the heart!” (pp. 97-98)

I will copy/paste the last sentence again, because it’s hits home to me.

There are many who observe the precepts with their hands, with their feet, and/or with their mouths – but there are few indeed who truly know the meaning of the service of the heart!”