Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Don't Let Enthusiasm Prevent Lasting Change

Rav Yisrael Luria, shlit”a, explains the words of our sages with a fascinating parable brought in the Toras Avos:
“We find in Mishlei 25:4, 'הגו סיגים מכסף ויבא לצרף כלי'—‘Take away the dross from the silver, and there comes forth a vessel for the refiner.’ This can be explained in terms of avodas Hashem. If a person puts silver in the fire to remove impurities, doing so was worthwhile. But if a person places silver into a fire which does not remove any impurities, this is simply a waste of time. To an ignorant bystander, it might appear that in both cases the same worthy action has been done, but this is not the case at all.
“The same is true with what each person accomplish by firing up his emotions. Some people learn and daven with enthusiasm to better themselves and smelt out their character defects. Sadly, others wish to live a life immersed in materialism. But of course sometime these people feel guilty when they see that they are not upwardly mobile in spiritual terms. So what do they do? They daven or learn with enthusiasm to prove to themselves that they are on a high spiritual level. In this manner they mollify themselves and are able to continue to plod along in the same pedestrian path, with limited or no spiritual growth.
“Our sages teach that diluted wine is not really wine at all. Tosafos explains that when wine is only a sixth of the total liquid mixed with five-sixths of water, it merely manages to ruin the taste of the water, not confer on the water the taste of the wine. Wine represents spiritual enthusiasm, as the verse states, 'הביאיני אל בית היין, כי טובים דודיך מיין'—‘He brought me to the “house of wine,” Your love is better than wine...’ But this enthusiasm must pervade one’s day to such an extent he is elevated as a result of it. It cannot be so dilute that it ‘ruins the water,’ that it just serves as a foolish excuse to avoid genuine change!”


Neil Harris said...

An excellent message. Thanks.

Micha Golshevsky said...

Yasher koach!