Teshuva – Returning to a Giving Mode

Some of you might remember our pre-Purim discussion revolving around the poles of רצון לקבל (will to receive) and רצון להשפיע (will to influence/give) which is at the center of Ashlag thinking.  I would like to devote our weekly D’var Torah to this theme of רצון להשפיע ורצון לקבל.  To review the basic concepts of this idea please refer back to that article on our web-site at:


The Gemara in Rosh Hashana 16b teaches us that there are three books opened on Rosh Hashana.  The completely righteous are immediately inscribed and sealed into “the book of life.”  The wicked are immediately inscribed and sealed into “the book of death.”  Those among us who are in between, “בינונים”, await judgment between R”H and Yom Kippur.  If proven to be worthy, they are written in the book of life and if not, they are written in the book of death.

Human life is so complicated, how is it possible to brand someone as a completetzaddik?  Similarly, how is it possible to brand a person as a complete rasha?  What can a person do in a period of ten days to switch from a בינוני, an “in-betweener” to become a tzaddik and written in the book of life?

These are precious metaphysical days in which we have potential to reach into places which are normally off-limits.  As Chaza”l teach us, דרשו ה’ בהמצאו קראוהו בהיותו קרוב, we have a unique opportunity to reach spiritual connections which are inaccessible the rest of the year.  More, we have a golden opportunity to dig inside and discover who and what we are all about – what is our essence?

Rav Yehuda Leib Ashlag ZT”L, gave us a simple, yet painful litmus test how to discover which category we are truly in.  Our Creator fashioned us in a way which necessitates that we receive Hashem’s goodness.  Our essence is determined by how much we keep for ourselves, רצון לקבל בעל מנת לקבל and how much we giveרצון לקבל בעל מנת להשפיע.

A completely righteous person has taken all Divine gifts that have been bestowed to him or her and has found an opportunity “to give it all back.”  A completely wicked person has taken these gifts and uses them strictly and only for the purpose of “I” and the “me.”  These rare individuals are immediately inscribed on Rosh Hashana in their perspective books.

Most, if not all of us, fall into the category of wanting both to give and receive (which one is primary depends on how righteous we are).  We appreciate the importance of “giving” and devote time and effort to doing so; however, we are not willing to abandon “the will to receive for receiving sake.”  We want to enjoy life “כי בא לי” because that’s what’s coming to me.  Such an approach to life, in totality, is that of a rasha and they suffer the consequences.

It is not for us to judge, but there can exist a Jew who seems to be keeping Torah and Mitzvot on the outside, looking like a “big tzaddik” yet on the inside he is being driven by selfish pursuits.  Similarly, you can have a person who knows little Torah and keeps the bare minimum, yet their core essence is one of simple emunah and a desire to give and contribute.  The World of Truth will make shocking revelations.

How important is it for us not to reject or eliminate a single mitzvah from the Torah or discard teaching of Chaza”l?  Absolutely crucial!

We are invited to humbly question, ponder, and thoroughly investigate all aspects of Torah.  We are even allowed to demonstrate moments of weakness and shortcoming when it comes to Mitzvah observance and our understanding of Torah.  However, the moment that we rebel or reject any part of Torah we are expressing that our Jewish life is one of רצון לקבל בעל מנת לקבל.  Such a person is not doing the Mitzvot for the Sake of Heaven but, rather, because it works for them.  Instead of the mitzvot, (if you can call them that) being our most basic opportunity to demonstrate a רצון להשפיע נחת רוח ליוצרו (the selfless will to givenachas to our Creator), which they are meant to be, they become selfish acts which at times may fit in with my personal philosophy.  Until further notice, let us steer clear of attacking Torah and Chaza”l, and place the blame on our own lacking and shortcoming.

We cannot easily undue the past, but, during the Esseret Yimai Teshuva we have the unique opportunity to contemplate and then conclusively decide which book we would like to write ourselves into this year.  Do we see ourselves as committing to a life of רצון להשפיע or are we going to fall into the traps of a materialistic world which blasts into our ears “feed me.”

I bless us that we make the right choice!

גמר חתימה טובה לכם ולכל בית ישראל

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