Mar 25, 2014

A Momentary High?

The Chofetz Chaim zt"l

Eytan Kobre raised an interesting point in one of his Mishpacha articles.  His daughter was going to attend one of those inspirational programs with a lineup of popular speakers.  Even as she was looking forward to attending, she said she wondered whether the experience would be one in which she would go to lecture after lecture and end up by feeling inspired without any concrete results.

That's a provocative point to ponder for those who attend or listen to shiur after shiur and/or read one inspiring book and article after another.  Speaking for myself, I ooh and ahh over powerful messages, new ideas, touching stories and moving biographies, but then what?

Kobre goes on to refer to the famous episode in which the Chofetz Chaim exorcised a dybbuk from someone possessed of it, a story that his talmid, R' Elchanan Wasserman repeated annually on Purim (or parshas Zachor).  Kobre wrote that a talmid of Radin, later a rav in the Bronx, was a witness to that dybbuk incident.  Years later he said, "Do you think being present at that awesome moment had a lasting effect on me? For two weeks afterward I behaved like a malach (angel) and then, I went right back to the way I'd been before."  Pointing to the wall he said, "It had an effect on me like it had on this wall."

Likewise, Kobre wondered what effect remains two weeks after hearing an inspirational talk.  His questions are:

Do inspirational talks never help foster changes in people's lives? He says, surely that is not so.  But the question is what approach, given limited time and energy to devote to personal growth, is most likely to help one succeed?

to be continued

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