Rabbenu famously taught that even ‘stupid words’ – mila de’shtuta – have a spiritual value.
It’s slow posting on the blog at the moment, for a few different reasons. I’m collecting the material for OIAG3, and that is taking a lot of time (and also, getting a lot of things to start moving, behind the scenes….).
And I’m also trying to make the most of every moment before the Three Weeks begins, to get out of the house and visit kivrei Tzaddikim, and to do a bunch of things that have been on my list for a long time, before the authorities use the fake Corona ‘second wave’ to try to close it all down again.
And lastly, I have so very much to write, so very much to share, that I kind of don’t know where to start.
We’re all totally in limbo at the moment.
Stuck between what was, and what will be.
And that’s a very hard place to be in, mentally. Human beings do so much better, mentally, when they have some form of certainty – even when it’s ‘bad’ – than when they have no idea what’s coming next, and how to try to prepare themselves mentally for it.
So, that’s why we’re all stressed and atzbani at the moment – frustrated, upset, angry, lacking patience.
It’s totally normal and natural to be feeling this way right now, so let’s all keep giving ourselves – and others – a break.
That still means we apologise when we act like a nob to other people, and that we take responsibility for our actions, but in a laid-back way that doesn’t dramatise stuff, over over-hype things.
No big deal. Really.
Even if it really is the end of the world.
A really helpful part of this coping strategy is what Rabbenu calls ‘stupid words’, or mila de-shtuta.
The Na-Nach guys are really good at mila de-shtuta. They’ve taken this part of Rabbenu’s Torah, and raised it to an art-form, as you can you can see a little in the clip below:
Here’s what Rabbenu says in Likutey Moharan 2:24:
Mitzvah gadoleh l’hiot b’simcha – it’s a great mitzvah, to be happy at all times, and to invest all of our effort into banishing sadness and depression. All illnesses that befall a person are solely caused by a lack of joy…..
….And though a broken heart is very precious, this should be contained to a specific time. One should set aside a specific time everyday to break one’s heart and express oneself before God, as brought elsewhere. But one should be joyous for the rest of the day. One can more easily fall into depression from a broken heart, than one came become frivolous on account of happiness, for the distance between a broken heart and depression is less.
Therefore, one must be happy at all times, except for the specific time at which one should have a broken heart.
So, in our hitbodedut, that’s the time to feel all the pain around the Coronavirus scam, all the corruption in Israel and elsewhere, all the evil billionaires, all the blind sheeple, the fact that the Rav is still in prison…
And to even cry about all these things.
But then, the other 23 hours a day, we have to brush ourselves off, and make EVERY EFFORT to pull ourselves out of feeling broken-hearted about the state of the world.
That’s where dancing and clapping come in.
I challenge you to spend even a minute dancing to this, below, and you’ll see how it instantly lifts your mood:
The spiritual reason for this is that dancing and clapping ameliorates the harsh spiritual judgments at their root, as he explains in Lesson 1:169 of Likutey Moharan:
When there are troubles, whether collectively or personally, it is impossible to dance….
…[A]meliorating judgments is accomplished by a person judging himself. In other words, we must judge and assess ourselves, by ourselves, about everything that we do – for everything, whether it was appropriate to act like that. We must analyze our actions and improve them appropriately, in line with the law and judgment of the Torah.
By judging and assessing oneself, one ameliorates and nullifies judgment Above, for, “When there is judgment below, there is no judgment Above. And when judgment is ameliorated, the blood leaves the feet, and joy can then spread through them, moving a person to dance.
In other words, the dancing is a type of spiritual short-cut, that ameliorates judgments Above.
And when we can’t dance – or don’t dance – it’s because we are weighed down by spiritual judgments.
And then, there’s the mila de-shtuta stuff, too.
Rabbenu talks about that in Lesson 2:48 – which is really a beautiful lesson, about not despairing about what’s going on, and not giving up on ourselves, and just continuing to strengthen ourselves again, and again and again, and to not believe that God is rejecting us, and our prayers and our service.
BH, if I have time I will try to copy it out in full below, as an update to this post.
But in the meantime, here’s the nugget that’s most relevant to now:
[L]ive with the lesson in Likutey Moharan 1:282 [aka AZAMRA!], which is to search and seek and find within ourselves some merit, some good point. And with this good point that we find within ourselves, to rejoice and encourage ourselves. We should not give up on what we’ve already attained [spiritually], even if we’ve fallen away from it to wherever we have fallen.
Even so, we should encourage ourselves with the little bit of good that we still find within ourselves, until in this way, we merit to return completely to God, so that all the intentional sins will be transformed to merits (Yoma 86b).
From what the Baal Shem Tov did at sea, when the Evil Inclination tried to confuse him, we can understand how much we must encourage ourselves not to despair of ourselves, no matter what happens to us.
The most important thing is to be happy at all times, making ourselves happy in any way possible, even by means of foolishness, acting like a fool and doing foolish and merry-making things. Or simply jumping and dancing in order to reach joy, which is a very great thing.
Ad kan, Rabbenu.
I know it’s hard at the moment. I know it’s tough. I’m feeling the strain myself too, believe me. That’s why I keep running off to Kivrei Tzaddikim every day or two, and trying to make an effort to dance for at least 5 minutes most days (but especially when I’m starting to feel down), and also, why I’m giving myself permission to watch videos like this, below (shmirat eynayim friendly).
Whatever is going to keep my ‘happy’ and functioning, that’s what I’m going to do right now.
Until the evil starts to fall all by itself.
And trust me, dear reader. That point is so much closer than it currently looks.
We just need to hold on a tiny bit longer.
PS: If you’re emailing me, and I haven’t responded, give me a little time to come back to you. I have a lot on my plate at the mo, so even responding to emails is a little more than I can manage at the moment. Thank you!