Thursday, September 1, 2016

Rejoice In Your Being

There is a volume that came out about 8 years ago in honor of Rav Charlap Shlita called Zeved Tov. Towards the beginning of the sefer there are a number of letters he received from his grandfather HaGaon Rav Yaakov Moshe ztz"l. In one letter he tells his grandson to strive for greatness, to try to become a gadol, and not to be just a יהודי נאמן - a Faithful Jew. A "Faithful Jew" is an American concept while striving to be a great person is an Eretz Yisrael-dike concept. He encouraged his grandson to have the Eretz Yisrael perspective, not the American one...

That is certainly true. Nobody says - all I need is to eat and pay the bills - I don't need or want anything beyond that. No luxuries, no vacations, no eating out, simchas with the bare minimum etc. etc. People want more and more. But when it comes to ruchniyus people settle for mediocrity. They eat kosher, daven 3 times a day, keep Shabbos, set aside time to learn etc. and they are more than satisfied with themselves. What eludes people is that they were created for greatness. They must become the greatest possible people they can possibly become. Just getting a passing grade is - in a sense - failing. 

BUT [big "but"] we also must never lose sight of the fact that we are Jews and be proud of that. Even without special madreigos in Avodas Hashem there is something great about us which should generate a TREMENDOUS amount of simcha.  

So we have to begin with a basic spirit of immense joy that we are Jewish and build upon that to attempt to scale the heights. Read this magical passage from Maran HaRav Hutner:

Maybe that is what the pasuk means when it says - אשירה לה' בחיי אזמרה לאלקי בעודי

אשירה לה' בחיי - I sing to Hashem with joy just for the fact that I am alive - without any great madreigos.

אזמרה לאלקי בעודי - I sing to Hashem for ever עוד of mine, for whatever extra I do, for every mitzva, for every positive thought etc. etc.