The Rav was speaking tonight about the great achievement of coming close to Hashem by means of relentless thinking; of straining ourselves to think about Him always in order to achieve perfection in this world. And the impression you gave – at least it’s the impression I got – is that this is the way to come close to Hashem. But I feel that sometimes it’s just too hard. Are you saying that it’s only by means of this emotional and intellectual effort that we can succeed?
That’s why I gave a substitute. That was the second half of the subject. And that is, if you’ll go, let’s say, to the Lubavitcher Rebbe and you’ll sing nigunim and dance there and you’ll amalgamate with the environment, that’s the easier way of attaining it – it’s a lower level but it’s still very valuable. Or you go to a yeshiva and you sit down in the beis hamedrash and become part of them; so you don’t have to think anymore. You’re carried along by the environment.
That’s why I mentioned the second way. The first way is for people with great abilities and willpower. Or for everybody, at times. And the second is what we spoke about: אתי מלבנון – Hashem says, “Come along with Me!” It means just by coming along, that’s already a greatness. Join in with us when we’re dancing Simchas Torah. Join in with us and become a member of a yeshiva. You sit all day long in a yeshiva; you don’t have to force your mind to think about Hakodosh Boruch Hu. Automatically it enters your mind. The atmosphere is such that you become changed.
Naturally the first way of greatness is for greater men; but there’s another way, a much easier way. And it’s being done every day.
Here comes a boy from the West. The boy doesn’t know anything. A true story. He comes to the Satmerer Yeshiva! He puts on the uniform and he’s a Satmerer now. Once he came to my shul. A Satmerer; he came to my shul and I was teaching gemara in English. So I stopped because I thought he didn’t understand a word. I started teitching into Yiddish for him. It turned out he didn’t know a word of Yiddish! He’s a boy from California. He didn’t know a word of Yiddish! He’s wearing a long coat, without a necktie; a real Satmerer.
So he made a quick jump. He skipped over several rungs in the ladder. He assimilated himself in a good environment. You don’t become a Satmerer overnight, but it didn’t take long. That’s the easy way.
So if you join the right kind of company, you’ll save yourself the trouble of wringing thoughts out of your mind and you assimilate just by means of a good environment.
However, if from time to time a person wishes to make a little adventure into thinking, very good. Like we did tonight. So it’s straining, OK. But at 11:00 we all go home and we forget about it. You’ll be able to relax.
But environment, that’s the substitute for individual climbing.
TAPE # R-67