Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I just feel it, man

I recently ran across an article on Masculine Jew's blog, and then the comment by Frum Single Female, which got me thinking.

Let's take the mitzvah of davening. You have two people, Reuven and Shimon.

Reuven says, "I love davening! It's one of the best ways to connect with Hashem and feel His presence. I know what all of the words mean. It's a fantastic mitzvah! What's that? Minyan today? Well, I really want to come. I want to daven and it means so much to me. But somehow I just never get to it. But I love davening."

Shimon says, "Well, I don't know what everything means. I just show up three times a day for minyan and daven."

Or take another example. You have two friends, Rachel and Leah.

You really care about Rachel. She's such an amazing person. But you only found out last week that she had a new baby a month ago. It's hard to keep in touch when you're far away, but you really care about her.
Then, Leah. You're carpooling with Leah so you get to hear about her life every day. Sometimes you call her up, just to check up on her. You wouldn't say she's your best friend, but you spend so much time with her.
But you adore your friend Rachel, you really do.

To some extent, I can understand this prioritization of feeling over action. Why? It allows us to separate the sinner from the sin. But at what point does the man who steals every day or make a living stealing get called a thief? Even though he really wishes he could get a job. Even though his parents trained him to be a thief and his uncle deeply hurt him.

Are we defined by our desires or our behavior? Who is responsible for these actions?  Which matters more, feeling or action? Which shows more clearly at what level you're at? What demonstrates your character more clearly?

 - Sparrow


  1. "The external awakens the internal."

    1. Does it ever work the other way around? Does inspiration ever lead to action?

    2. Yes, certainly, but external behavior that is devoid of internal meaning ought not be underestimated, because every positive action has an effect on the soul. If we wait around for inspiration to hit, we may be waiting for a long time.

  2. The Judaic perspective officially is that actions matter, not feelings. Meaning if someone doesn't want to do something and does it anyway, he still fulfilled a commandment; it is still a level.

    Reuven's davening will be more heartfelt than Shimon's. But the fact that Shimon still shows up is not nothing.

    As for Rachel and Leah? Absence makes the heart grow fonder. If Rachel was in your carpool every day yammering about her mother-in-law, you may feel differently.

    1. I didn't say that either was nothing. The more I think about it the more it seems like neither approach is really the one to take. That's what I was trying to highlight, but I feel as thoughb most people will instantly say one is worth more than the other.

  3. There is the concept that if Reuven is naturally inclined to good davening, while it is admirable, Shimon's struggle also has great value.


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