Is There a Straightforward Quick Fix?
 
Tuesday, July 7, 2020 - 15 Tammuz 5780
 
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Is There a Straightforward Quick Fix?
by Rabbi Yossi Braun

Question:

I have constant inner struggles dealing with my temptations, character traits and other faults (I'll spare you the details because the list is too long...)

Anyway, I have been in contact with a dozen rabbis, read no less than five highly recommended Jewish books and aside from being all confused, nothing has really changed. All the problems are there as before.

Is there one straightforward quick fix?

Answer:

I don't blame you. After talking to a dozen rabbis, anybody would be confused. Evidence to your confusion is that you just consulted a thirteenth rabbi, who is most likely going to recommend another "super duper top of the list" book.

Well, this book does not profess to have a "straightforward quick fix". It's definitely straightforward but not so quick.  In fact, right on the cover page the author goes out of his way to declare emphatically that his book will take you for a ride on an extended and protracted long journey. But he promises to get you there in no time.

Sounds like a contradiction? Yes and no. By now you must be even more confused. So allow me to clarify.

Many new GPS users get confused when presented with a choice between the "shortest route" and the "fastest route". Shortest is the route with the least distance travelled. Your odometer will register less digits on this route. The fastest route is a route that will likely get you there in the least amount of time. For obvious reasons, most people would select the fastest route when they use a GPS.

Every rabbi you consult, or book you devour will provide you with another set of directions to reach your destination. While they are all legitimate paths and will eventually get you home, some might land you with heavy tolls on the way, or keep you sitting in traffic for hours on end. Every path you take contains its own set of risks ,challenges, and drawbacks.

On the cover page of Tanya, the "Bible of Chassidism", Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi defines his work as "the Longer Shorter Way". This path might appear longwinded, steep and tedious, but you are sure to arrive home safe and sound.

It is almost like Diet News. We are bombarded with endless and conflicting, media reports. One day, this food is good for you, the next day it's not. If you read the medical journals, every week brings with it another study why this food causes X and this activity will lead to Y. We have reached the stage where drinking a simple daily cup of coffee has become so complex. Coffee is rich in antioxidants, reduces the risk of Parkinson's and Alzheimer disease and protects against type 2 diabetes, liver cirrhosis, gall and kidney stones. But, it can also increase the risk of coronary heart disease and osteoporosis, elevate "bad" cholesterol levels and affect blood pressure.

We all know the truth. Everything has pros and cons. Prescription drugs cured millions of lives but serious adverse drug reactions are one of the leading causes of death. Every food or medication may cause side effects. They are all good for you - until you start taking too much, too often, or in the wrong combinations..

The "Jewish Pharmacy" also carries a variety of potent medications, covering almost the full range of ailments affecting the various systems in the body. Kabala focuses on the soul and has the capacity to awaken one's faith. The active ingredient of Chakira (Jewish philosophy) is "intellective" and it is known to stimulate the brain. The behavioural chemicals extant in Mussar (Jewish ethics) actively influence emotions and reinforce bottom-line, practical conduct.

But they all carry definite risks and side effects. Kabala can lead to attributing anthropomorphic and humanlike features to the Divine. Chakira is overly academic and has the risk of destroying genuine and pure faith cells. Mussar is an intoxicating aggressive medication which focuses on wiping out bad behaviour, but may leave a bad aftertaste (of dealing with all those negative stuff).
The book of Tanya, based upon the principles of Chassidic philosophy, favours an holistic approach and contains active elements of
Kabala, Mussar and Chakira. It speaks the language of the soul, stimulates the mind, awakens one's heart and directs the body. According to its author, it contains no potential side effects. It is a panacea or wonder cure. In Tanya, the author revolutionises the spiritual medical world, by insisting that there is one underlying cause for all spiritual ailments and there is a singular cure, a "magic pill" for all.

It is a long and short way. The treatment might take some time but it has absolutely no side effects or drawbacks.

Try it. It works.

 

 


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