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Thought in our Everyday Lives: Part 1
By Shmuel Gluck
With increasing frequency, I'm being asked questions on the subject of Emunah, although the questions aren't specific. They're questions coming from people who are groping for the meaning of life because they know that there should be meaning, although they have no inkling of where to find it. They know that they should have Emunah, but can't "figure out" how to go about acquiring it.
A discussion of Emunah can be found in multiple Seforim (books) from many different authors. Those Seforim don't intend to offer answers because too often people aren't in an emotionally healthy place in life. What people need once they're curious and, hopefully, sincerely interested, is to be directed in the right direction. There are many reasons that people need to be shown how to go about growing, such as poor behavior in school, negative influences from friends, or unhealthy home environments. For some people what's needed is to point them in the right direction. I hope to do that with these articles.
I'm asking adults to read these articles with an open mind. Focusing only on teens in crisis is becoming a thing of the past. Today, it's about people in crisis, some of whom may be teenagers, but many of whom are also adults. We all lack sufficient amounts of Emunah and other foundational Torah concepts. This series was presented as a lecture L'zeicher Nishmas my son, Moshe Yehuda.
The topics which I'll discuss in these articles are subtle, and can go unrecognized by people for their entire lives. This may seem very comforting, because people often say, "what we don't know won't hurt us". However, this isn't true. People's actions can always come back to "haunt" them. Teenagers are happy to act irresponsibly. Parents will lead their children in ways contrary to the advice of professionals. Their response to my suggestion that their decisions will come back to hurt them, is a look of disbelief. They're under the illusion that they can continue living life as they're living it now.
Eventually, those teenagers lose whatever privileges they took for granted. In extreme circumstances, they may be sent to a therapeutic school. When parents ignore the advice and warnings of others, they'll see their children evolve into adults, in a manner that they never believed could happen. People's decisions will always come back to haunt them.
If people would realize that they won't "get away" with anything, they'd have to ask themselves, "What should I be doing in this world"? What's considered doing enough, in order for me to have completed my responsibilities in this world? Are there correct, and incorrect, ways to do to fulfill those responsibilities? If people don't ask these questions, when those responsibilities are done improperly, they'll come back to haunt them, in this world and, possibly, also in the next world.
This series of articles is different from my usual articles. I usually focus on the human nature angle. Instead, these articles may be reminiscent of people's Rabbeim, and parents, who have attempted, and failed, to convince students, and children, that they must be Frummer than the way they are acting because Hashem wants them to be.
These articles speak to the silent minority who want to believe in Hashem, and his Torah. Those who do what they're supposed to do "on the outside", but inside they're lost, and are trying to find out how they can understand that what they've been told by their parents and Rabbeim, makes sense. They also want to know why they don't "feel it" at all since Torah and mitzvahs make sense. Why is it that people who care, don't feel anything. What do they need for them to begin to feel that following Hashem, and his Torah, is a rewarding lifestyle.
It's the nature of people to act, more than to think. When people are alone, they'll listen to the radio, or sing to themselves, in order to avoid the only alternative, and that's thinking serious thoughts. Today's society has given people the ability to "lose" themselves, and pass the time with the internet, social networking, and other meaningless distractions. Most people have forgotten how to think. Their minds wander all day, and they give up on trying to think after only a few minutes.
Although part of the reason for people's reluctance to think is that they're "out of practice", there's also another reason. Thinking can bring with it a fear of what they should be thinking about, and what their conclusions will be.People have a responsibility to think. Chassidim call the process Hisbodidus, and the Litviche call it Cheshbon Hanefesh. It's being in solitude with oneself, and Hashem, and reflecting on their day, and all that they did, or didn't, do.
thought, people's actions will be hollow, even when they're well meaning.
I'd like to discuss the concept of thought, how to think, and what to think.
With this skill, people will appreciate their Mitzvohs and, therefore, Hashem, even more. Without it, their actions will be meaningless to them, and maybe even to Ha
shem. Here's an example:
The response to my question as to why a teenager didn't like to Daven, was: Facing him [Hashem] & talking to him may bring up a whole slew of other issues & questions that I may have been trying to avoid that I am just not ready to deal with yet.
Tefilla, prayer, is intended to be a discussion with Hashem. It's also intended to be a time in which people can talk to themselves. Most people don't place enough, and sometimes any, effort into thinking. What results is a hollow experience; an experience which many people would prefer to avoid rather than to perform.
This example of Davening without thought highlights what these articles will discuss. Although people's Davening may be sincere, some of them still wonder why it doesn't leave them feeling satisfied, since they're doing what's right. They forget that, despite their sincerity, they're missing the one piece that'll make it meaningful, inspiring, and life altering.
People never consider their responsibility to place thought into their Davening, because they're so accustomed to acting, in general, without thought. The fact that they're responsible to place thought into their Mitzvohs, and that those thoughts would be life changers, doesn't enter their minds.
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