Uncle Zally wrote: I received this email. How would you suggest I answer?
Anonymous Lubavitcher wrote: I need help.
I read an article of yours [Uncle Zally] on Chabad.org about how you woke up one Shabbos morning and decided to shave your beard off, and buy a Corvette, and ended up seeing that you really do want Judaism, at least on some level. Well, here's my story. I grew up in a "frum" family in Los Angeles in the Lubavitcher community. I went through Cheder, Yeshivah, got Semicha, got married, got a job, and had two children in the process I am 26. Here I am, a beard, tzitzis, two kids, a wife, a house, a professional job.
And I am worthless.
I am worthless because I am unhappy with my life. I never had a chance to be that "teenager" you describe in your article. The kid who drives hot cars with hot girls. Who has a girlfriend (or more) and does whatever he wants. Who gets to eat how he wants, where he wants, what he wants. And I never got to be that young guy, 26 year old, whose good looking, clean-shaven, nice hair, looks good, maybe looking for a specific girl, but still going around.
If the circumstances permitted, I'd be chasing girls. I don't really care about my standards or values. I am not really living the life I purport to be living.
You on the other hand chased around, and after exhausting that, at some later age, you began to look for meaning. Well, I, and most guys like myself at my age aren't looking for this! I am NOT so mature that I wish to live this life! If I had the opportunity to live the life you did, I'd do that! Then maybe one day, when I am 45 or 50, I'd care to ask questions. But for now, I just want to chase girls. I'd rather play golf/tennis or watch a movie on Shabbos morning, than going to synagogue from 10-2 pm, ruining the whole morning. I don't care that my wife looks more modest than other less-clad women. Why do I need all this!!!??
I seriously want to know what you have to tell me.
Anonymous Lubavitcher guy.
You are making two huge mistakes. First, you are letting your animal side tell you what is good, and second, you are ignoring what your Torah life is supposed to be giving you. The obvious result is that you feel like you do.
The animal in each of us has an amazing thirst. It is never satisfied, even when it gets what it wants. This is because it was created to want, want, want, and want. Desires motivate action, and G-d wants us to do things.
There's a horse, a wagon and a driver. The driver slaps the reins against the horse's back and the horse goes forward. Obviously, since it is all hooked up, the wagon and the driver also go forward. The animal is pulling the wagon, but the driver is in charge. The driver is in charge that is until they pass a pizza parlor and it turns out that this horse loves pizza. Neighaaaaah! The horse whinnies and rushes into the pizza parlor. Well, what happens to the wagon? It goes with the horse. And the driver? He also goes with the horse. Now, the horse is in charge.
This is a metaphor for the intellect, the animal inclination, and the body. The horse wants action, Neighhhhhh! Whinny! He wants his animal nature to be fed. The body wants to just sit on the couch. Relax. Cool out. And the intellect wants to fulfill its purpose for having been created.
Every decision you make, everywhere you go, whatever you do, one of these three characters is going to be in charge. But one thing is for sure. At the end of the day, we all have to pay the bill.
The other huge mistake you are making is not looking for and finding the spiritual reality inherent in the Torah. It is there. It is inside every word and every deed, but it doesn't come out automatically. You have to look for it. The physical Torah without the spiritual Torah can become a burden. This is without doubt the biggest problem in Jewish education today. The spiritual aspect of Torah and mitzvahs has always been hidden, but it used to be that we were taught to look for it. Now days, sadly, it is almost all just, "memorize the page and be a good boy."
The fact is you have won the Lotto and you do not even know it. You have your health, a Jewish education, a good wife, two wonderful kids, a profession, a house, wow! You know how many Jews in the world lack these things and cry out to Hashem every day for them? But because you haven't found Hashem in your life you are being torn apart.
If you want to find joy you have to begin to sincerely search for Hashem. Look for Him. He is everywhere but He is hiding. You can start by talking to Him when you drive to work and when you walk down the street. He is right there filling you and surrounding you. Speak lovingly to Him and tell Him your problems, what you want, what you need, and ask Him what you should be doing.
Once you begin to attain even the slightest level of spiritual awareness, your wild animal will not be entirely subdued, but you will begin to remember what you came into the world to do and this will calm the animal somewhat. Then, as you go deeper and deeper you will learn to train the animal to serve your greater need, your service to Hashem. Then you will find the true joy that you are looking for.
Remember, satisfying the animal doesn't happen. Even if your wildest animal dreams would (G-d forbid) happen, a few minutes later the animal would be barking again.
There are three things that everyone has to accomplish. If you only have two of them you are going to be miserable. You have to find out how you are supposed to serve your Creator, you have to help to make the world a better place and be paid a livelihood for what you contribute, and you have to make a family. You have two of them, but you haven't figured out the greatest one of them all. Find Hashem in your life or the animal is going to rule.