The Right Attitude for Kabalas Hatorah
In every generation we receive the Torah anew through the Tzadikim of all the generations. Someone sent us an e-mail recently:
"Do you use sayings of R' Nachman a lot in your emails? The reason I am asking, is because in my community they don't learn Breslover teachings".
I would like to answer this person, and I think it can help us all to approach Kabalas Hatorah with a great attitude.
Dear Reb Yid,
On GYE, we use sayings from everywhere... From Rav Nachman, the Ba'al Hatanya, the Ba'al Hasulam, Rav Yisrael Salanter, the Ba'al Shem Tov, the Vilna Ga'on, Rav Chaim Valozhin, etc... We love all Tzadikim and we strive to learn from them whatever we can. See our "Attitude Handbook" for a great mishmash of ideas, taken from Tzadikim of all groups and from all major strains of Jewish thought.
With today's powerful Yetzer Hara, there's no time or place for deciding which Tzadik we want to learn from or which we don't. We need to use all the tools at our disposal to uplift ourselves from acting like animals and become human beings again! To beat this addiction, we even learn from Goyim. As those who frequent this website and the forum know, we are always quoting from the 12-Steps and from the Big Book of AA, which was written by - and for - hopeless non-Jewish drunkards!
You see, this addiction has taken us to a level lower than animals (even animals don't abuse their instincts!). So before we can contemplate being Yidden and receiving the Torah, we first need to become "human beings" again. We need to first regain our "sanity", and to do this, we often have to re-learn, from the bottom up, the very basics of what it means to be a "sane" human being, created in the image of Hashem. So we go to the 12-Steps and we learn how these non-Jewish drunkards were able to overhaul their entire lives and become people with a real connection to Hashem! We learn what "dependence" on Hashem really means. We learn a true humility and honesty in all our affairs. And as we start to live right and think right, we regain some sanity and start to heal. Only after all that, can we begin to explore how to be the good Yidden that Hashem truly wants us to be, as the Pesukim say: Ve'heyisem li segulah mi'kol ha'amim... mamleches kohanim ve'Goy kadosh - And you shall be for me "unique" from all the nations... a kingdom of priests and a holy nation".
But as long as we are still struggling with this addiction, far be it from us to even consider which of the Tzadikim we want to learn from, and which we don't.
The Pasuk says that the Yidden came before Har Sinai and stood "Bitachtis Hahar - at the bottom of the mountain". The Sefarim discuss that this is teaching us that "true humility" precedes accepting the Torah. Similarly, the Pasuk says "Vayichan Yisrael - and Yisrael camped" as Chazal learn out: Ke'ish echad bi'Lev echad - like one man, with one heart". Only when all Yidden feel as one, and only when we are truly humble before Hashem, can we hope to be Mekabel the Torah properly. Because in order to be a "Mekabel", we first need to have a proper "beis kibul - an empty vessel".
Perhaps the most the central idea to the 12-Steps, that which makes them so powerful, is learning how to completely trust in Hashem in all our affairs, and how to give our lives and will over to Him. For only Hashem can help us beat this addiction at the end of the day. As "London" quoted yesterday on the forum from the White Book chapter "How I Overcame My Obsession with Lust":
"How did I do it? I didn't. Someone in AA told me after he spoke in a meeting, quoting Chapter 5 in Alcoholics Anonymous that "G-d could and would, if He were sought." And that's how I did it. By letting G-d do it. Because I couldn't. But G-d could and would - and did. But I had to go to meetings to learn things like "Meetings, meetings, meetings, meetings, meetings...." That's what they told me. "Just keep bringing the body". "Work the steps, work the steps, work the steps, work the steps". By going to meetings and working the steps; that's how I did it. That's how I learned to let the grace of G-d enter to expel the obsession."