Sunday, July 26, 2009


Rebuke or Warmth?

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Judaism has gone through fire and brimestone phases. Rebuke due to our terrible aveyrot (sins) and being distant from Hashem is part of our tradition and an active part of the past.

The problem with threats and punishment, as any parent knows (especially those with large families), is they lose their effectiveness. Either because the child challenges you (so do it), or because you apply the punishment - at which point the threat to repeat may be problematic (especially if the punishment is severe).

The Jewish people have been through generations of hard times. The Holocaust, the massacres, poverty and pogroms of the generations before. The rebuilding of Israel on Jewish blood, war every generation in Israel with generation after generation of existential threats (threat to very existence).

So if I shout at you DO TESHUVA or else, well, been there done that. Frankly the miracle is that the Jewish people are still here AND are still connected to Hashem. That Torah is NOT a memory, and synagogues still exist. That Jews are stepping out of the inner city and small towns, out of mountain villages and seaside cities, and returning to Torah and the path to Hashem.

The time of the smack down has passed. No one is paying attention to the hysterical rebukes. Even worse, not only is that approached ignored, it's counter productive - people turn off from it.

It certainly doesn't work outside the Jewish religious community, and it's not working anymore within the religious community (particularly with the young people). This is a lesson from the Baal Shem Tov returned to our time. Fire and brimstone leading to terror and depression are not successful long term strategies for motivating a positive relationship with Hashem.

Chassidus arose to take people OUT of the depressive path to one of serving Hashem with JOY. To loving our fellow, appreciating ourselves for the gifts of life and creation from Hashem, and focusing this live on the positive.

In a time of chaotic world events and information overload, when madmen declare their intention to destroy Israel and even former safe havens seem to be turning (slowly but not imperceptibly) against being a comfortable place as Jews, it's easy to fall into depression. It's also easy to stand up and scream TESHUVA, REPENTENCE, it's all because we're not perfect!

Indeed, we're not perfect. But given what the Jewish people have been through, we're doing pretty darn good!

World events are turning chaotic and downright frightening. But as it says in Yalkut Shimoni (Yishayahu Remez 499), and quoted by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, "do not fear, for all that I've done I've done for you." Events are being lined up for the Geulah, and it's all for our good.

Lets do our part, and have a little faith in our Father in Heaven to give us a little credit and make it happen in a way we all recognize as revealed good.


Neshama said...

You're right.
I had the same response when I read that there was another 'protest' in Meah-Geula over Shabbos: the time of protests are over. It is time to reach out, to do REAL KIRUV. My idea is instead of protesting down by the Parking lot on in town, several chassidim should go there after davening and stay there all day. When people drive in, "one" chassid should approach the driver (after he gets out of the car) and explain to him/her that they are driving on Shabbos; that they understand their wanting to visit the Old City and the Kotel, but that it is Shabbos, and then speak nicely and warmly, from the heart about the sanctity of Shabbos - NO ARGUING. Then speak about doing mitzvos, et al. And do this EVERY Shabbos. START TREATING the non-observant like 'human beings'.

In the same way the women go out on Fridays and talk to women about lighting candles on Friday night, and about the beauty of spending Shabbos with the whole family, etc.

It's time for a different approach!!

I think I'm going to blog about this and try to get the word around.

Shavua Tov to the Mystical Family

malka said...

I think that you have a good point. We should find the most effective way to help people come close to Hashem, and the way is through positivity.

We Do need to be aware of the consequences of Not following our obligation, But we should mainly help people in a positive way.

I think now is a good oppertunity to each look at ourself and think about how to spiritaully prepare ourself for the redemption.

Chaim Shalom said...

good post akiva.
just know you can never go wrong with promoting the Rebbe's views. its up to date with the times and optimistic.

woe unto us- that we have lost the Rebbe, the true king of Israel!? Rebbe look what has become- everyone is a prophet! everyone is a Rebbe! this is the nisayon of this generation: NOT TO BELIEVE WE ARE THE REBBE. BITTUL TO THE HIDDEN TZADIK!

the eyes that saw G-dliness in all of us- who!

Shiloh said...

Exactly Akiva. Great article. Shavua Tov!

Anonymous said...

Warmth or rebuke is in our hands as all of the maner in which we receive the geula if we do not draw closer by dropping our ego's then we will be left to receive the rebuke

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