Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Question: But I Want to Enjoy and Have Fun...!!

(This question was sent to me via email but I think you can all gain from the answer so I am posting it here with permission from the girl who asked it.)

We're in this world to grow and accomplish so that our souls can reach an elevated level in the World to Come. Right? So where does all the physical stuff fit in? Though I'd love to be, I'm definitely not on the level where I can eat just to make a bracha and all that jazz, so what do I do? What right do i have to read a book just for fun, etc.? Then there's also the issue where moshiach can either come any day or anyone could die any day. Once you're dead or moshiach's here, you can't grow anymore, and i don't want to be at my current level when either of those events take place. The problem is that no matter how much I want to grow and live each day like my last, it's really hard. Basically, I'd love to always be growing and doing holy things, but I reallyreallyreally want to read books for fun and just chill and enjoy myself, and I don't want to get up to Olam HaBa and feel stupid for wasting my time down here. How can I reconcile these desires?

Answer: Your question is amazing - it really shows that you are thinking deeply into things and don't just sail through life and go with the flow! I think it is so important for you to be an individual and spend some time trying to figure out where you want to go with your life and what you want to do!! That is so special of you!!

To answer the first part of your question, you have to remember that Hashem created you as a human being, not as a malach - you are not expected, at this point in your life - to be on the level of the gedolim or great people you may have read or heard stories about.

I will mention an amazing thing I learned in seminary taken from the Michtav M'Eiliyahu by R' Eliyahu Dessler . We can take the mashal of the yetzer hara and compare it to when someone goes to fight a war. When a warrior is going out to battle, he has to know who he is fighting. He knows which territory is already conquered, which areas are beyond him and what he is fighting right now. A person who wants to fight the yetzer hara also has to know that - there are certain things that are already conquered territory, (I'm so past that!) certain things that are beyond him (maybe one day I'll get there) and certain things that he is fighting/struggling with (now this is a challenge for me!).

To illustrate this idea, our teacher had us divide a paper into three parts from top to bottom. The middle of the page was our struggle right now, the bottom was things we are not dealing with at all because it was considered "conquered territory" and the top were things that were just "beyond us" which were too high a level for us to be struggling with right now. She then proceeded to read a list of different areas in avodas hashem and every girl wrote that down somewhere on their paper - in their personal category - whichever one it belonged to in their own life. I'll give you some examples: (I'm writing some of these from memory of her list, others I'm making up just for you to get the picture.)

  • Say a bracha before each food that you eat

  • Daven with nussach ari (special kavanos with each word)

  • Daven shacharis every day

  • Daven mincha every day

  • Have kavanah on the simple meaning of each word

  • Cover your elbows and knees whenever you go outside

  • Eat food just so you can fulfill your 100 brachos for the day

  • Watch TV on Shabbos

  • Not watch movies

  • Speak without curse words

  • Say a bracha acharonah after every food you eat

  • Say "hello" and greet people with a pleasant face

  • Say "thank you" to Hashem every time you hear about a simcha

  • Not eat chometz all pesach long

  • Speak pleasantly to every person you meet

  • Only listen to Jewish music

  • Never speak Lashon Hara

  • Have an hour-a-day that is Lashon Hara Free

I think you get the picture - there are certain things that you are not even struggling with, other things that are beyond you and other things that are hard for you right now. When you keep in mind that there are some things that are just beyond you right now, you will realize that it's okay not to live in a world where you "eat just so you can make a bracha" because you are not holding there right now! Instead, focus on the things that you are struggling with-the things that a normal teenager finds hard to do. You can always keep in mind that those high madreigos are in the "beyond you" right now but maybe, one day, in the far off future, you will get there. But there's no use in fighting a battle that is not in your realm.

In general, a person should always keep in mind that there are certain goals or ideas that are the "ideal" and the right way to do it-which you hope to get to one day. For now, try to work on the things that are in your "territory."

It is important to keep in mind that there are so many levels in each area of yiddishkeit. So when you see that something is "beyond you" you should look up to it and respect it and think that this is something great and special and not to make fun of it in any way. Think to yourself that right now I am not there yet but one day, maybe, in the distant future, I will do it. And if it's something you can never imagine ever doing (like, for example, wearing a shpitzel when you get married - something the very chassidish people do), at least look up to them and say, "wow! they are so special for doing such and such thing."

This can also help answer your question about moshiach. I once heard that when moshiach will come, there will still be struggles in every persons avodas Hashem. It's not like we are going to stay where we are when moshiach comes. The difference is, the struggles will then be between good, better and best as opposed to between good and bad because we will have a special clarity to know what is good and what is bad. You don't have to worry about what level you are on now and if you will be happy with that when moshiach comes because worrying will only prevent you from making any positive changes, it is a tactic of the yetzer hara - that you spend so much time thinking and worrying about it that you are too distracted to actually think of moving forward!! Instead, try to spend your time focusing on how you could change in a normal and healthy way - but remember that you are not a malach and Hashem doesn't expect you to be one!!

It's okay, and even normal for you to need some "chilling time"-time when you can relax, spend time with friends, read books, listen to music and you know what? Spending time with friends gives you many opportunities to do mitzvos too! There are loads of mitzvos bein adam l'chaveiro that you can do - complimenting friends, being careful with how you speak...And also, having a good time and taking care of yourself emotionally and physically is also part of the mitzvah of v'nishmartem me'od l'nafshoseychem-watching over your body. Hashem gave you one body and you have to make sure you take good care of it!! We are not expected to spend every hour of the day immersed in holy seforim and learning until the wee hours of the night!! It is also important, in order for you to stay sane and healthy, to relax sometimes, read, chill, go out with friends and do all those things that you enjoy!!

I hope this answers your questions. You are such a special girl to be thinking this way!!


  1. thanks, great idea. but how does a person know which aspects of their lives to let go for now and not fight against? personally i find tht one of the yetzer hara's ways of making me lazy is to say "dont bother, your not there yet- eventually youll get there". on the other hand its true that we cant be perfect. how can i tell if its something really "beyond my grasp" or if that feeling is just the yetzer hara's illusion he mekes me stall with?? thx

  2. 1st is it possible that u made a mistake on watching t.v?
    also what if 1 doesnt know what r things that r 2 far, but only has something that she's been struggling w/ but now got much better at and now doesnt know what els she should do?(u know what?!LOL!)

  3. is it ok to be spending a day in the city shopping with friends as oppose to sitting at home and saying tehillim. Because if i am saying tehilim-thats a mitzvah for sure, but how am i becoming closer to Hashem if I am in the city shopping? Also, you might say that i should shop as a form of taking care of myself, but letd say if i dont really need anything for shopping, but i am only going cuz i am bored??

  4. *shnooky* Thank you for asking this question! I see that many girls have asked the same question before (in different words) on the blog. I asked my husband's rebbe how to answer it and put up his response as a separate post on the blog. Let me know if it helps you!

    liat-I don't understand your first question. What do you mean?
    I know what you are talking about in your second question (LOL!) but I think it's important for you to realize that every day you are faced with many different choices and by making the right decisions on a day-to-day basis, you are going to be able to climb higher!

    Anon-It is okay to be normal and spend the day going out with your friends and shopping with them, even if you do not need anything. Remember that while you are out shopping, you have an opportunity to make a kiddush hashem by smiling at the cashier, opening the doors for people who are coming in or out, walking in a refined way and talking respectfully.

    You do not have to spend all your free time staying home and saying tehillim! Hashem wants us to develop our middos while we are out in the world and we should interact with other people in a way that makes them say, "Wow! Look how special the Jewish Nation is!" If you feel that you still have a lot of extra time on your hands, you can take an extra chessed upon yourself once a week. You can volunteer for Chai Lifeline, visit people in a hospital or nursing home, tutor younger students or anything else. There are many organizations that could use extra help if you are able to help them.

    It is a beautiful thing to use the time you have to say tehillim and you can take upon yourself (bli neder-without a promise) to say a small amount of tehillim each day. But if you spend every Sunday saying tehillim, eventually you will feel burnt out and may not accomplish as much with it as what you can accomplish were you to go out and do something productive with your time!

    I hope this helps!


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