This post is new, brand new, hot out of the oven and fresh and various things new (not to mention innovative). All right, it's really not. It's old, recycled, freezer burnt. But never fear, it's good shtuff. After all, could a farbrengen with the inimitable moi be anything but? I think not. Still though, I realize that some people tend to glaze over when they find out that they're reading a rerun, so I intend to offer snarky editorial comments, which will be identifiable by their being bold in nature. As in, to boldly go where no blogger has gone before.
First aired on Monday, April 7, 2008, I present to you for an encore performance, "The Rashab, Akiba, and other shtuff".
Today (All right, it's not, get over it) is the anniversary of the passing of the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Rashab. He was an interesting personality, as a quick search on Google will bear out. According to many he was medically depressed, or as the Rebbe (Or was it Freud?) put it, “The head grasps what the heart is unable to contain, and the heart cannot tolerate.” He was known to compare himself negatively to his predecessors, and to wonder if he was accomplishing anything. (If only people nowadays accomplished what the Rebbe Rashab did and had these feelings...)
I think that everyone has these feelings at one time or another. We all feel inadequate, and wonder what the point is. Actually, the Rebbe Rashab never wondered about this, because he knew exactly what the point was: To make a dwelling place for Hashem down here. The only difficulty is in the implementation. A similar query was posed to me by a well-respected person, “How does one do Teshuva?” I responded, “Regret the bad you've done and resolve to do only good in the future.” Again, a simple answer, but ever so difficult to apply practically.
This is something which annoys me to no end; why can't people just do the right thing and stop thinking so much? In the long run they'll be so much happier, so why bother with all the stupidity in the middle? Obviously I'm mainly addressing these comments to myself. We have a heart, and it exhibits strangely powerful tendencies which cause some bad things. (You bet I'm addressing myself here)
A Bochur here at YHSTC (A good yeshiva, if I do say so myself) told me on Shabbos that he has a Facebook account. I began to tell him of all the evils to be found on social networking, and he stopped me with, “Oh, I'm careful, no harm will come my way.” This argument was so obviously flawed that it took all my analytical powers to comprehend how a boy who I thought was quite intelligent could make such a mistake (Or at least try to excuse himself with such a pathetic attempt).
What's the problem? We pray every day that Hashem not expose us to temptation. Going on Facebook, and truth be told going online, is exposing oneself to major temptation. Fine, so I'm a hypocrite (You can say that again). Big deal (Actually, it is). Everyone at some point in their life has to understand that life is not black and white, and that hypocrisy is a necessary component of survival (Doesn't make it right). Conservative talk show hosts are always going on about the “hypocrisy of the left” (A year later...they're still doing it!); I would venture to say that conservatives are just as hypocritical as their liberal colleagues (As true today as it was a year ago). All that's needed is to change the word to “compromise” and everyone feels good. Does it accomplish anything? Possibly not. But then when did the pursuit of truth become the standard that all of us lesser mortals were forced to be crucified upon (Never, but it should be, no?)?
Getting back to temptation, which is something that I'm sure all of us are happy to have (Not all the time [I should hope]), the Talmud also states that one can't trust himself until the day he dies. No man, no matter how holy, is immune. Rabbi Akiba once said that he was too old, and the evil inclination had no power over him. The Satan appeared to the great sage in the visage of an extremely beautiful young maiden, and Rabbi Akiba was so taken by “her” appearance that he began to follow (According to the man is his Yetzer Hora). The Satan started to run, and the Rabbi followed in close pursuit. Eventually “she” ran up a tree, to the end of a branch, and Rabbi Akiba was about to grab “her” when Satan revealed his true colors (Truth is, is Satan really a "he"? Maybe he's an it? It's an it? Whatever). Rabbi Akiba learned that no man is safe, not even a person who is renowned as being the savior of the Oral Torah.
(The lesson for the rest of us? Be frum!)
U'msaymim b'tov, if you want to read a post that Cheerio once called "Powerful", read this. I read it tonight, and thought it was pretty good. And it has Rabbi Manis Friedman in it. Anything with Manis in it can't be too bad, right?