Russian Rabbi, Teacher of Ethics and Morals
Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler
Russian Rabbi, Teacher of Ethics and Morals
The holiness of the Land has its effect on people at all levels to some degree - even to the extent that a man buried in the Land will benefit from its influence. But the degree of influence of this holiness - whether it be a slight effect which is almost imperceptible, or the sort of effect which raises a man to the point of complete absolution of his sins - this varies with each one's situation.
When I come to the holy Land, I feel clearly that here my heart is more easily aroused by the study of musar. We also see palpably the supernatural help one gets here in Torah learning.
The holiness of the Land has its effect on people at all levels to some degree - even to the extent that a man buned in the Land will benefit from its influence. But the degree of influence of this holiness - whether it be a slight effect which iss almost imperceptible, or the sort of effect which raises a man to the point of complete absolution of his sins - this varies with each one's situation. Even we today at our low level are able to discern the effects of the sanctity of Eretz Yisroel.
Some people gauge their value by what they own. But in reality the entire concept of ownership of possessions is based on an illusion. When you obtain a material object, it does not become part of you. Ownership is merely your right to use specific objects whenever you wish and that no one has a right to take them away from you. How unfortunate is the person who has an ambition to cleave to something impossible to cleave to. Such a person will not obtain what he desires and will experience suffering.
Fortunate is the person whose ambition is to acquire personal growth that is independent of external factors. Such a person will lead a happy and rewarding life.
Spend time thinking about the virtues of other people. Do not merely do this as a passing thought, but try to feel pleasure in thinking of their virtues.
The past is only memories; the future is but illusory hopes; focus on the present; for that is where your life really is; and it consists only of tests.
View every difficult situation as an opportunity to grow and we will feel pleasure instead of pain from such situations. Failure to do so will cause you needless suffering.
We can learn to overcome temptations. The pleasure we derive from physical and material pleasures is to a great extent based on our own imagination. We subjectively build up our feeling of need for those phenomena by greatly exaggerating their inherent pleasure.
When working on improving yourself, it is easy to become discouraged because you do not see sufficient progress. Keep trying and do not give up. Every small amount of improvement is a success.
A person lacking internal feelings of self-worth feels a need for honor from others. The greater the lack of self-esteem, the greater the need for the validation of one’s self-worth through the approval of others.
Constantly giving to someone will increase your love for that person.
Envy comes from focusing on the few moments of good fortune in the life of another person, while ignoring his years of misfortune.
If a person demands to have everything he wishes, the lack of even a small pleasure can make him feel extremely unhappy. Excessive demands can even lead some people to consider their entire lives as worthless if they are missing some minor pleasure that they arbitrarily demand.
If you make an effort to help everyone you meet, you will feel close to everyone. A stranger is someone you have not yet helped. Doing acts of kindness for everyone you can fills your world with friends and loved ones.
In reality a major part of pleasure in obtaining things is overcoming the obstructions that stood in our way. Once we realize this, we will be able to decrease our desire for those things that are spiritually or physically harmful just by examining them objectively and seeing that we are not missing so much. At the same time, we can gain more pleasure from spiritual accomplishments by focusing on how much we are missing in this area and can feel the sense of accomplishment in overcoming the necessary difficulties.
In spiritual matters, every single person lives in an entirely different world. One person’s world in no way touches the world of any other person. Hence, there is no need to feel envious of the spiritual accomplishments of others.
Pleasure comes from obtaining what we feel we are lacking. We have the ability to choose our answer to the question, “What am I lacking right now?” Some people answer materialistically. It is wiser to choose to focus on your lack of spiritual accomplishments and then you can derive pleasure from meeting those needs.