Feb 25, 2010

Mind versus Heart

A Maggid arrived in town whose arrival was highly anticipated because he was such a terrific speaker.  When his drasha was nearly finished, he would look at the packed shul.  He had just finished telling them a very sad story and the men sat with lumps in their throats and tears in their eyes.  He suddenly shielded his face with his hand so that only one half of the shul was able to see his expression.  Then he stuck out his tongue and made a funny face.  The half that could see it burst into laughter.  The other half, still moved by his sad story, were still on the verge of tears.  Each side stared at the other, one side unable to understand why the other was not crying and the other baffled why the rest were not laughing.

The Maggid explained to them what he had done and why.  "A moment ago I had you all on the verge of tears and I can make you laugh just as easily.  I can make you feel whatever I want! Never listen to someone just because he is a brilliant speaker.  The message has to be true!"

I was taken by this story, by how we can be manipulated, by how we are susceptible to a good talker or a good writer and are so easily swayed in our emotions.  The prevailing attitude is you can’t argue with feelings and feelings are not right or wrong, they just are – but this is not a Torah view.  And yet, I see it often expressed by frum people.  Our minds are supposed to rule our hearts (mo'ach shalit al ha'lev) but you wouldn't know it nowadays! Today it's "this is how I feel" and that is supposed to give it the stamp of legitimacy.

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