Monday, September 1, 2008
When Should One Rush To Take On New Things? & When Deliberate?
The "other" son of the Izbitzer, Rav Mordechai Yosef Leiner, is Rav Shmuel Dov Asher. He brought a great teaching in Parsas Re'eh in the sefer Neos Deshe, on the pasuk "לֹא-תְבַשֵּׁל גְּדִי, בַּחֲלֵב אִמּוֹ," "Do not cook a kid in its mother's milk." (Devarim 14:21) And big thanks to my friend, Rabbi Reuven Boshnack, for showing this to me.
He said that the yetzer hara (evil inclination) comes to different people in different ways. If someone doesn't actually have the desire to be good, the yetzer hara will just flat-out try to get him to sin. But if a person does want and try to be good, the yetzer hara will act very religious and frum. If a person wants to learn Torah, the yetzer hara will cause a person to think "Who am I to involve myself in such holy things? I haven't even purified myself in even basic matters. Let me first make myself worthy, and then I will learn." Or, if a person is busy with his work, the yetzer hara will say, "How can I learn Torah with so many distractions with all of the work I have to do? Let me first earn enough money and progress to so-and-so point in my career, and then I will be able to learn without all of the distractions of the work-a-day life." Using these tricks, the yetzer hara can cause a person to go a whole lifetime without learning.
He says that instead, when the thought of doing a mitzvah comes into one's head, he should quickly do it right away and not over-analyze about whether or not it's a good idea. The youth of a kid, a baby goat (גְּדִי), he says, refers to alacrity, doing things quickly and with excitement. However he says that the mother goat's milk refers to the trait of doing things slowly and patiently. "לֹא-תְבַשֵּׁל גְּדִי, בַּחֲלֵב אִמּוֹ," then, refers to the idea that one should not cook or destroy the youthful alacrity that one is inclined to exhibit when he thinks of doing a new mitzvah, with the misplaced patience and thoughtfulness of "its mother's milk."
I asked Rabbi Boshnack what he thought the limits of this principal are. It seems to me that the Neos Deshe would agree that some thoughts to do mitzvos that are truly beyond one's self and should not be taken on in haste. For instance, if a regular guy felt inspired to keep a ta'anis dibur ("vow of silence") every Monday and Thursday, though he hadn't even taken the TV out of his house yet, this miiight not be advisable. Reb Reuven suggested that one principal might be that when one is thinking of taking on a new hanhaga, practice, like putting on Rebbeinu Tam Tefillin, he should ask his Rebbe or Moreh Derech.
I was also thinking that perhaps when one is talking about something that universally applies to almost every Jew, he should go ahead and start doing it as soon as his spirit moves him, without prior deliberation. Since it is something that is either halacha or is very widely kept, any thought not to do it is likely to be his yetzer hara trying to cool off his holy fire. Whereas if it's something that applies only to some people, yechidei segulah, this may be the place for deliberation, balance and a phone call to one's Rebbe or Moreh Derech.
What do you think?
(Picture courtesy of danny.oz.au)
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