The Passionate Life – Adding Vitality and Joy into Your Every Day
Essays 2020 / Finalists
Passion. A flame. A fire. Leaping higher and higher. Growing in its intensity. Bursting forth. The intense joy. The fervor. His walk is a dance. His tunes uplift. His pure and simple elation is infectious. This is a chassid.
What we’ll explore
What sets the chassid apart? What is this passion and joy? I feel like I do mitzvos by rote and without feeling. How do I infuse my actions with passion and joy? How do I retain or gain this fervor?
In the life of a chassid “עבדו את ה׳ בשמחה” (serve G-d with joy) is not just an adage but rather a living agenda. The animal soul is constantly in combat with the G-dly soul and only with a happy disposition will a person overcome his darker nature. Depression only leads to the lowest of spiritual depths.
In Tanya, Rabbi Schneur Zalman explains that if a person is saddened by his spiritual status, the bitterness might act as a springboard for an increase of positive action. However, if this sadness becomes depression, it stems from the schemes of the Evil Inclination. It says:
“If a person considers himself wicked, he will be grieved at heart and depressed, and consequently will not be able to serve G‑d joyfully…”.
Therefore, one must always ask himself if his feelings will result in positive actions or if they will lead him down a slippery slope.
To defeat the animal soul, one must serve G-d with joy. One should always examine his feelings and see if they will have a positive effect on his actions because sadness can lead to positive action but can also lead to negative action.
When you feel a burst of intense feeling, take a moment to see its outcome and determine if it will lead to positive action.
Happiness can also be defined as knowing that one is doing what G-d wants at any given moment. The Arizal said that all his greatest spiritual experiences were achieved through שמחה של מצוה — “joy in the performance of a mitzvah”.
There is a story told by the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe about a Jew in the Russian town of Lubavitch. He was called Reb Yisrael der freilicher (the happy one). He would always be found jumping and dancing with pure joy. He would tell others that if he received the chance to give G‑d nachas (pleasure) by doing a mitzvah, how can he not dance and sing with joy?! His point was simple. G-d has told us that He has pleasure when we observe His commandments. To think that a mortal human of flesh and blood can bring joy to Almighty G‑d is something to be truly joyous about. Reb Yisroel understood the greatness of this opportunity. He understood that we have been given a unique gift, which is the ability to become closer to holiness.
In this generation, we have many many distractions which can deviate us from serving G-d. Imagine trying to go up a downward escalator. If you remain still, you descend. If you try to walk up, you linger in your original spot. The only way to ascend, is by running. One must ‘run’ with immense joy and energy, and not observe G-d’s commandments out of rote or by force.
By serving G-d and observing His commandments, the greatest joy is attained. Why is this the greatest joy? Our connection to G-d is strengthened and we are drawn closer to Him which is the greatest gift. G-d also receives pleasure when us, simple mortals, serve Him which is something to be truly joyous about.
Every day, try to do at least one mitzvah with joy, and reflect on how you will become more connected to G-d by performing it.
Explanation #3 :(3)
One of the predominant sources for a chassid’s passion is their Rebbe. We will now delve into the Rebbe – chassid relationship.
The chassidim and the Rebbe share a unique relationship. The Rebbe has an intense love for every chassid and the chassid is filled with love and awe for his Rebbe. Although the Rebbe’s spiritual height is far above his chassidim, the Rebbe is not detached from his chassidim and chassidim do not feel like their Rebbe is distant or inaccessible. The Rebbe is sometimes compared to a shepherd who cares fondly for his flock or a father who has unconditional love for his child. Sometimes he is compared to a king who is responsible for his nation or a teacher who imparts his knowledge to his beloved students. Indeed, there aren’t adequate words or enough analogies to fully describe this unique bond. The Rebbe is actually a collective soul which encompasses the soul of every one of his present and potential chassidim. When a chassid says that they get their energy from their Rebbe they are not using a metaphor
but actually expressing a spiritual reality. A Rebbe is called the rosh bnei yisroel (the head of the generation). Just like the body receives it’s vitality from the head, the entire nation receives its life force and energy from the Rebbe.
How do I receive this energy from the Rebbe? One must actively connect to the Rebbe to be able to absorb and be affected by his light. In Tanya we discuss the term “ולדבקה בו” which means “I will cleave to him”, speaking of the active connection a chassid creates with his Rebbe. The Hebrew word hiskashrus means “connection,” and the full benefits of hiskashrus between a Rebbe and a chassid depends on the degree of the chassid’s efforts to connect. How is that connection made? By studying the Rebbe’s teachings, requesting his blessings, relating stories about the Rebbe, singing his holy melodies (niggunim), and fulfilling his directives.
A chassid receives his energy and passion from connecting to his Rebbe. How can I connect to the Rebbe? By studying the Rebbe’s teachings and fulfilling his directives.
Every day, learn a short paragraph of the Rebbe’s teachings. This connects us to our source of chayus and gives us passion.
How do I infuse my actions with passion and joy?
- Only joy can defeat the animal soul. When you feel intense feelings, take a moment to make sure that they will have a positive effect on your actions, which can defeat the animal soul while sadness can lead to negative actions.
- When you feel frustrated or upset, picture the image of the Rebbe in your mind and this will give you energy.
- By observing G-d’s commandments, the greatest joy is attained. Take a resolution upon yourself to add joy to a specific mitzvah.
- Focus on a picture of the Rebbe for one moment every day to increase in your connection.
- Learn an article or a letter of the Rebbe periodically (the Rebbe told us that we connect to him by learning his teachings).
What sets the chassid apart?
A chassid’s living agenda is to serve G-d with joy. G-d told us that He has pleasure when we observe His commandments. Therefore, connecting to Him is the greatest gift. A chassid dances with indescribable joy, for G-d has given him this gift of the ability to connect to Him.
What is this passion and joy?
The chassid’s understanding and excitement to connect to G-d is what makes him have that flame of passion. It’s his intense excitement and desire to connect to G-d, and when he does connect to G-d, his joy is indescribable. He also receives this burning fire of passion when he connects to his Rebbe, because the Rebbe gives him life just as the head gives the body vitality.
See the change:
By infusing your thoughts and actions with energy and passion, you will begin to see the joy in serving G-d and find yourself with a burning passion. A flame. A fire. Leaping higher and higher. Growing in its intensity. Bursting forth. The intense joy. The fervor. Your walk becomes a dance. Your elation becomes infectious. People point and say, “this is a chassid!”
1 (Chapters 1 and 26 of Tanya)
2(Tzavaat Harivash 137)
3 This is based on :
- a letter of the Rebbe which is printed in Sefer HaMaamarim 5710, p. 254 and in Igrot Kodesh, vol III, p. 331-332
- Tanya, chapter 2, and a talk by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Sivan 26, 5711
- Hayom Yom – 24 Sivan