The Rav mentioned earlier that drinking too much coffee could be considered a form of slavery – of losing one’s free will. Can the Rav expand on some other habits that would fall in to this category?
Look, there are worse habits than drinking coffee. Like reading! Yes, reading! Now, reading is one of the best things to do if done properly. But when people have a habit of reading, they read anything. So they pick up and read magazines. They read periodicals. Like I mentioned before, the habit of reading is very widespread. The majority of the American public is enslaved to reading. And therefore they are slaves. Their minds are sold out to somebody else.
Now suppose somebody gets into the habit of reading good things. Not only Gemara. Gemara is wonderful! But he learns Agaddata. He reads Mesillas Yesharim. He reads Chovas Ha’levavos and Sha’arei Teshuva and they become his mindset. He thinks only according to their ways. That’s wonderful. That’s a wonderful reading habit. Is that person narrow-minded? Absolutely! The broad-minded people have all kinds of wickedness in their heads. The narrow-minded people are the ones who walk on the straight path and are a success in life.
That’s why it is such an important lesson to know that, אין לך בן חורין אלא מי שעוסק בתורה. The only one who can be a free man, is one who lives a Torah life – the one who has a Torah mind. This is such an important lesson, because that is true freedom. There’s no freedom to choose as you wish. In America they think that freedom is an ideal. Freedom without any purpose. Just to be free! A meshugas! “Give me liberty or give me death.” A meshugas. What do you need it for?
A man said to me, “What?! Should I give up my mind to the Mesillas Yesharim? He should become the thinker for me?” Absolutely. Absolutely! Yes, he’ll think much better than you think. If you think with the ideals of liberty – the freedom to do as you please – then who knows what’s going to happen to you?!
So let’s stop reading periodicals. We should have no business with the newspapers. Let’s stop mixing with the wrong company. You belong only in the frum neighborhoods. Move out of West Orange. Move away from those far off places in New Jersey and Connecticut. Move back to the frum Jewish neighborhoods. “Oh, but it’s not freedom,” you’ll say. That’s not the freedom you should want. You’re a slave to every worthless thing. And to every worthless ideal. Move into the frummest neighborhood you can. And you won’t have that freedom anymore. That freedom to waste your life. Because you’ll be ashamed what the neighbors will say. מראת עין and חשד are wonderful takanos. So move to a place where you’ll be forced to be a good fellow. A place where you won’t become enslaved to all the worthless ideal of American society. You can’t be an eved Hashem, if you’re an eved to something else. And you’re in this world only to perfect yourself and become an ish-shalem. To become a person who is always thinking Torah thoughts and Torah ideals.
TAPE # E-182 (April 1999)