People often think that some things go without saying, that not everything needs to be spoken out. There is truth to that. But even those things that don’t need to be spoken out need, from time to time, to be spoken out.
I walk a very fine line.
On the one hand, I believe something is missing.
Borrowing terminology from a tale by Rebbe Nachman, I refer to this as the “Lost Princess”, a general symbol for a soulful spirit, comprising of a deep awareness of the ultimate purpose of the Torah and mitzvos – building a passionate relationship with Hashem, the inner meaning of the Torah and mitzvos, the deep psycho-spiritual teachings every facet of our tradition intends to convey, connection to tzaddikim who can bring us to this level, and a religious inwardness – health, joy, humility, wonder, excitement – a personal love and commitment to yiddishkeit that is devoid of any societal expectation, cultural norm, or external element.
With unending help from the Master of the world, I have devoted my life to recovering the Lost Princess in my own life (a work in progress) and encouraging other individuals, and our community as a whole, to attempt to do the same.
But a part of the very theology – largely captured in the revelation of Chassidus – so core to this “missing spice” is the importance of having an ayin tovah, of focusing on the good points, stressing the positive, and finding the merit wherever there is merit to be found.
I’ll be the first to admit it: Sometimes, on foggier days, I grapple mightily with reconciling the two.
I generally try my best to be “for”, not “against” (certainly not in a brash, public manner). In fact, I go out of my way to prevent the creation of any kind of forum in which people may be led to “bash the system” or express anger, bitterness, lashon hara etc., which is why I have been hesitant to open a WhatsApp group for educators interested in introducing Chassidus to their classroom experience despite the demand, for fear of what that could turn into. There is more than enough of that in the world already. I want nothing to do with it.
But the necessary implication of being “for” something different than the status quo is that you are against that status quo, and it is difficult to deny that the same holds true in my situation. I am indeed often saddened, disappointed, and frustrated – especially when the void created by “what is missing” leads to emotional, spiritual, or even physical tragedy.
Then, in a moment of renewed clarity, I remind myself of something very important, something I can’t remember enough, something absolutely key to the success of my mission:
We don’t need a revolution. We don’t need to overthrow what is. We don’t need to overhaul the system.
We need the same tefillos.
We need the same shuls.
We need the same exacting halacha observance.
We need the same shemiras halashon campaigns.
We need the same chessed organizations.
We need the same yeshivos.
We need the same grade schools.
We need the same seminaries.
We need the same Kiruv organizations.
We need the same minhagim.
We need the same Daf Yomi.
We need the same sweetness. The same sanity. The same morality. The same nobility. The same yiddishe chein.
We need all of our gedolim, who reached true tzidkus in various, unique ways.
And, perhaps most importantly, we need the same level of communal respect for, and involvement in, intense devotion to limmud haTorah of every kind.
We need different, but we also need the same.
MI K’AMCHA YISRAEL!!!
We are doing GREAT! We are shining from one end of the world to the other! If people still had the sensitivity, they would readily admit that we are the guardians of a gem – the gem that has held us up throughout our treacherous history and contains the secret of our eternity.
All we need – in my tiny opinion duly founded on the mighty and earth-shattering position of the Baal Shem HaKadosh and his students, is a universal reminder of what it’s all for, a reminder than can enliven all of what we already have. A shift in perspective that can bring Hashem back into the forefront of our communal consciousness and revitalize, refocus, restore, refresh, revive, and reignite every aspect of our wonderful, holy, and remarkable society. A discovery that can bring the latent potential of nishmas Yisrael to the surface, and solve many of the issues we are unfortunately facing – not only in our communities, but beyond, in the world at large.
People like to think in false dichotomies, mutual exclusivities.
To put people in boxes. That it needs to be this or that.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Two things can be true at once:
We need tefillah, but we also need Torah.
We need Torah, but we also need tefillah.
We need Gemara, but we also need Chassidus.
We need Chassidus, but we also need Gemara.
In the language of the story (and I stress this in the book as well), the Princess is not intended to negate the Six Sons, but to revive them. To lend a sense of mission, to reintroduce the end toward which they all serve as means, instead of leaving them in their delusion that they are ends unto themselves.
Sure, I speak a whole lot more about the Princess. That’s simply because this is the element I think we need to focus on more (not “more than…”), the very mission of my organization.
But all the while that I go about (carefully) speaking this language, I do so with a prayer on my lips, davening that my mind, and the minds of those who are listening, don’t automatically fill in the blank space left by what I don’t feel is my personal mission to discuss with anger at the system, flippancy toward halacha, or hatred of the more normative Halacha and Gemara studies.
It simply isn’t true.
So there you have it, friends! Something that didn’t need to be spoken out, spoken out.
.יִהְיוּ לְרָצוֹן אִמְרֵי פִי וְהֶגְיוֹן לִבִּי לְפָנֶיךָ ה’ צוּרִי וְגוֹאֲלִי
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