0 Posted by - January 8, 2015 - Uncategorized


Parashat Shemot


is a quote from Menachem Medel from Kotsk: “I do not want followers who are righteous; rather, I want followers who are so busy doing good that they don’t have time to do bad.” Some problems in life don’t have solutions. Some tendencies can’t be uprooted. Call it Habit. Call it Nature. Whatever it is, whether it is an eating addiction, smoking addiction, depression, or Whatsap addiction, there is only a certain extent to which you can help fix the problem by talking about it, or digging it up, or hashing over the problem. Continuous hashing over the problem is something like grinding water. After a while, grinding the problem is grinding water. This is because dealing with the problem on a surface level of logic and theoretical treatment, isn’t as effective as dealing with it on a different plane, on a plane of altering habits and behaviors .  As important as it is for people who are depressed to go to therapy, take medicine if prescribed, etc., it is equally important for them to go to the gym. Studies have shown that people who exercise have less chance of getting depressed than those who don’t. Just going for a run gets the mind running as well:, it prevents one from  being stuck on the negative thoughts that hold one down, and pushes a person on to other things in life.

If you have an eating problem, the solution is not only cognitive. If you rely on your mind alone to be your mouth’s police guard, it won’t work. You need to surround yourself with people who are conscious of good nutrition. You need to get some quick , easy-to-make salad recipes. When you fill up on healthy food, you are in a better position for change in the mirror. Smoking, drinking, digital addictions – all need to be dealt with the Kotsker’s approach of ” too busy doing good to have any time left to do bad.”

Many psychologists are archeologists; they dig around till they find some ancient connection from your life story to your problem in life. Then they “undo” that, somehow, if they can. And then, the problem may be solved. It may not be. In my house, I give the kids a lot of responsibilities. Even if they break a dish while doing the dishes, they are so busy doing good, that they do not have time to do bad. If they are bored, they can start to fight, and then, who knows?  They might end up throwing dishes at each other. Sometimes, when they fight, instead of judging who is wrong and who is right, I give them something positive to do, like clean up their rooms. Read a book. The fight just disappears, because people do the worst things either when they are bored, or used to doing things by rote, automatically, without any active thought. The Talmud teaches that a man who is extremely rich and has many maids and marries a young girl, needs to give her pets, so that she won’t be bored. בטלה מביאה לידי שיעמום , Boredom breeds craziness. (Ketubot 59b, 61b)

We can learn this from Pharaoh. The Messilat Yesharim writes that the Evil Inclination is likened to Pharaoh in the sense that the way the Evil Inclination leads us to transgression is by getting us to do our everyday routines by rote, without thinking. This is similar to Pharaoh, who said תכבד העבודה על  האנשים  Give the people a heavy workload, so that they won’t have time to think. The Evil Inclination, also, gets us so occupied in our routine that we forget to pray when we pray, learn when we learn, and be genuinely nice when we are being nice to people.

The reason why we get caught up in jealousy, anger, depression, addictions is because we are not so preoccupied with doing good stuff that we have no time for the bad. Being constantly busy with constructive, positive activity is like doing Judo on the Evil Inclination, using his own technique, his own strength against himself. If you feel that you have failed in something, don’t “chew on it”. Find something amazing that you like doing, and concentrate your energies toward that. You can chew on the problem later. Just get back to work. Get back to doing what you know is right. Get so busy doing good that you don’t have time to do bad.

So, if you feel you have fallen, make a life goal. Start growing, and most of the time, the problem will fall by the wayside.




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