This series, of which installments will be”H be posted twice weekly, is adapted from an English translation of Rav Itche Meir Morgenstern shlita’s sefer Yam HaChochmah. This foundational pamphlet, “Sod HaTaanug”, presents a deep perspective on our desire for pleasure and the intense battle with the yetzer hara our generation is fighting before the coming of Moshiach. We hope you enjoy these essays, and please remember to share with family and friends!
How Do We Connect To Hashem?
“Okay. What I truly desire is to connect to Hashem. But how do I do that? How can I connect to Hashem?”
The answer to this is that you are already connected with Him, by virtue of your very existence. It is only that in order to feel that reality, you will need to do certain things.
The first thing to do is: Talk with Hashem! Simply start opening your mouth and start talking to Him. He is found with you every moment, and He is listening to everything you are saying. You just need to talk to Him and pour out your heart Him.
Go to a quiet place, or close the door, and start saying simply, “My Father…I feel like….” Start telling him everything you’ve been through and what you’re going through now, and start asking Him for help.
When you keep talking to Hashem and you are consistent about it, you are creating a relationship with Him. An inner connection to Him forms inside of you, and your soul begins to feel satisfied and fulfilled.
The second thing you need is to learn Torah and fulfill all of the mitzvos which Hashem has given you. These are the physical tools which we are given in order to connect to Hashem, which enable us to experience a light that is pure bliss.
Finding True Pleasure
At this point, after we’ve acknowledged all of the above [and we have begun to form a relationship with Hashem], the yetzer hora (evil inclination) will jump on us and try to convince us otherwise. It will argue: “Torah and mitzvos are difficult to keep. When you learn Torah and keep all the mitzvos, it’s a difficult life! You are going to lose out on all the pleasures of life…”
What a lie! The unequivocal truth is that all of the ‘pleasures’ found in this world are empty and they don’t satisfy our souls. Only Torah and mitzvos are the true and genuine pleasure, as the Creator testified: “Hearken to Me, and eat well, and enjoy the bliss for your souls.” The Torah’s ways are “ways of pleasantness”, it is all pleasant and sweet to a conscious Jew who is working on a relationship with Hashem. In fact, all enjoyment and all pleasure was created so that we can use it to serve Hashem, for the main way to serve Hashem is when it’s enjoyable for us to serve Him.
This is what Hashem intended – that we should have it all good, and only good – and that we should enjoy our connection with Him.
Torah and mitzvos are the enjoyable tools of pleasure which satisfy our neshamah, giving us a pleasure and bliss in the G-dly light that all of our neshamos yearn to experience. The Creator is basically telling every single Jew – every single one of His children – to take the tools that He has given us and use them to connect to Him. It is through Torah and adhering to the mitzvos that we will succeed in giving ourselves over to Hashem – letting Him become the focus of our heart’s passions and desires – and that is how our soul will attain the satisfaction and fulfillment that it wants.
When that happens, not only will you taste the pleasure in ruchniyus (the spiritual), but even our physical desires will become more fulfilling, because they will become infused with a greater measure of inner meaning.
Unlike what you might be thinking, you do not have to be learning Torah all day in order to experience to this pleasure and this light which is being described here. All you need to do is become connected, genuinely, to the Creator, and to listen to His calling to you, to what He’s asking of you – which is for your own good, no matter what level you are on. Learning Torah, keeping the mitzvos, and serving Hashem are all “sweeter than honey”. Serving Hashem and having an actual, personal relationship with Him is the true pleasure, the only true enjoyment in life that we can have.
How Aveiros (Sins) Destroy Our Pleasure
Do you want to know the reason why the Torah has forbidden certain acts of pleasure and why the Torah warns us to stay far away from them? The reason why the Torah forbade these experiences is for our own good. It is because, in blocking our souls from connecting to Hashem, these actions thereby withhold the true pleasure from us.
The yetzer hora, our evil inclination, tries very hard all the time to convince us that it’s enjoyable to do an aveirah. It says, “This is a normal function of human nature. It really shouldn’t be forbidden at all. You are losing out on so much pleasure if you don’t do this aveirah.” This is how the yetzer hora uses convincing arguments to sway us to do the aveirah and to go against the Creator’s will.
One must learn how not to fall for the yetzer hora’s argument and how to recognize this argument as a complete fallacy. Because in truth, there is no real pleasure in any of these taavos that your yetzer hora wants you to do. The small, fleeting feeling of pleasure in these taavos is like bait that the yetzer hora puts in your way so that you’ll fall for his trap. If you fall for it and you go after the fleeting pleasure that the sin affords you, you will only find pain afterwards. Sometimes you will even fall into sadness and melancholy afterwards. Everyone is well aware of this vicious cycle.
To be continued…