Wednesday, August 23, 2006

mitzvos - duty or inspiration?

A thought question regarding teaching about torah and mitzvos (or you can even reflect on your personal experience): which would you say is more crucial – helping people find some emotional or inspirational meaning that drives them to perform mitzvos, or helping people strengthen their sense of duty and commitment to do mitzvos even if they find them uninspiring or make them uncomfortable?
(No, I do not mean to present this as an either/or false dichotomoy. It’s a matter of emphasis…)

9 comments:

  1. This is probably a cop out answer but I would say it depends on the person. If you try and strengthen the person's sense of obligation you run the risk of looking at the Torah as a burden. In a way iI think that this question is teh difference between mussar and machshava.

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  2. This is probably a cop out answer but I would say it depends on the person. If you try and strengthen the person's sense of obligation you run the risk of looking at the Torah as a burden. In a way iI think that this question is teh difference between mussar and machshava.

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  3. Perhaps the answer to that question might be different if given by the Chovos HaLevavos (Hakaras HaTov for the RBSH"O) or the Mesillas Yesharim (Chovas HaAdam B'Olamo)

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  4. I would vote for the latter. Emotions and inspiration can be very fleeting, while commitment to an aspiration or ideal tends to be much more lasting.

    Of course, both ideals are not mutually exclusive, but it is difficult to find emotional commitment and inspiration every day, even if the goal is lofty.

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  5. I think what is missing is understanding the goal in Kyum Mitzvot, which is Ahavat Hashem synonymous with Yediat Hashem.
    If that is understood the two approaches are no longer exclusive. See Rambam at end of Hilchot Teshuva.

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  6. We do Mitzvos because HaShem told us to do them. As side benefit is all those thing which come out of the mitzvos such as inspiration, being misaken the oilam, getting rid of the klipos, and other products of listening to HaShem.

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  7. jeffrey smith8:44 PM

    I would say the former, and in a way I disagree with Sephardilady. Emotional committement to the mitzvot may be hard to get, in which case sense of duty must substitute, but once you get it, it lasts. With a sense of duty, you will be content with minimal observance, and be subject to finding ways of evading observance itself, whereas the emotional committment will lead you to maximize performance of the mitzvot.

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  8. I'd be interested in hearing more about "once you get [emotional commitment], it lasts." I'm not a highly emotional person and never have been. I'm also not the easiest to inspire. My decisions (religious or otherwise) are usually based on a sense of duty and the emotions follow from that. I will admit that my efforts is sometimes minimal, but not always, as I'm human and have my high and low points.

    I'd like to hear more of your thoughts.

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  9. Some kiruv organizations stress the emotional, which is particularly favored for women who seem to identify Judaism as the bastion of traditional family values and meals.

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