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When the Passion Dies

When the Passion Dies



When I started all this, I felt so excited about being Jewish and following all the laws, but now it is such a struggle and kind of feels like this heavy burden. Like a bunch of can't do this and that, and have to do this and this. But I also don't want to throw away all the changes I've made in my life and worked so hard for. Can you help?


I want you to know that you're not alone in your feelings and you're not the first to go through this experience. Losing your passion and conviction, and the feelings of disillusionment that follow, can be hard to handle.

Rabbi Aharon of Karlin, a student of the Maggid of Mezritch, was a great tzadik who brought many Jews to return to a Jewish way of life. A confused disciple once cried to him in his private study, explaining that from the time he returned to the mitzvot and began to study Torah he was passionate and excited; his life was filled with meaning and beauty…until very recently. He had simply lost the feelings. The drive was gone.

Rabbi Aharon opened the book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) to chapter 7 and showed him verse 10: "Do not say, 'How was it that the former days were better than these?' For not out of wisdom have you asked concerning this." Rabbi Aharon looked at his student and asked, "Why isn't it a wise question? You want to know why the earlier days were better than the current ones, why you used to have passion and now you don't. What's wrong with asking that?"

"But if we read the verse differently," the Rebbe continued, "perhaps we can find the answer."

"Don't ask, says Kohelet, why the former days were better than these—because those days were not out of wisdom. G‑d granted you a gift of inspiration when you started and you felt the push in each mitzvah you did. He was showing you the person you could become. However, the inspiration was not the fruit of your own wisdom and your hard work. Rather, as Kohelet says, 'you have asked,' and in Hebrew the word 'ask' can also mean 'borrow.' G‑d lent you that time—you borrowed those days. And now that you've seen the goal, it's time for you to make the decisions of a Torah lifestyle and the mitzvahs you do truly your own."

You're in the same place. You, too, need to work on finding yourself in Judaism and creating your own Torah life. You can start by thinking about the mitzvahs you've been doing the last few years. Which ones speak to you? You'll know because those are the mitzvahs you look forward to, that linger in your mind after you've done them, perhaps even imagined teaching them to your own children. Tell me, in which part, even the most minute part, of being an observant Jew do you feel at home?

Think about it and let me know. We'll use that as your building point.

Malkie Janowski is an accomplished educator who lives in Coral Springs, Florida. Mrs. Janowski is also a responder on's Ask the Rabbi team.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
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Irene Glen Burnie, Md USA April 23, 2012

When Passion dies In our beginning of seeking G-d, we do alot of studying. Sometimes too much study wearies the mind. Perhaps it is G-d drawing us away, simply because he wants us to rest in him. Sit with him and learn from Him in the quietness of our soul. Look around see what G-d has created. Listen to a bird chirp, sounds of children playing, the beautiful clouds, even the sound of a car honking its horn. All these sounds in quiet thought bring about the presence of our loving G-d. He tells us, To love Him with all our heart, soul and mind, and our neighbor as ourselves. This is what God commands. The rest wll come later. Through His love for us comes our will to do his will. He will guide us when we rest in Him. May the presence of HaShems love be upon you. Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA, USA April 8, 2011

BTW, EVERYONE loses passion... Any time you get into something new, it's really hot fire. However, even a candle that is lit begins to lose its flame over time. When you learn to ride a bike, you have to do everything inch by inch, first this and then that, thinking about it very seriously, and you are motivated to keep pedaling until it works and the bike is moving. Eventually, you get into the HABIT of riding the bike, and it's not as joyous as when you first began. You can do it without thinking. Aha! There is the answer. Accept that the passion is not actually normal. It's for the NEW experience and not the ongoing one. Whatever way of life you have chosen, it has become a habit, and you need to RELAX now and not expect passion. If you were zealous every day on an equal level, one would think you were a fanatic or crackpot. So, you are normal. Just enjoy the peace of your new life style. Reply

Eric S Mequon, WI via August 9, 2010

Discrimination against the deaf I am certain that if you were in Mequon with the Chabadniks, this would not happen--especially to your children.

Now, if indeed what you say is true, is it not said that you should reprove your neighbor? Start with the head Rabbi in your neighborhood. He would most likely act to correct the situation or perhaps he will validate your perceptions and explain the reasons. Reply

Rob W. Pittsburgh, PA / USA August 8, 2010

Discrimination against the Deaf It breaks my heart to read of your bad experience. I hope you find a better crowd with whom to worship. The Chabad-Lubavitchers in my neighborhood are some of the nicest Jews you'll ever meet, and they are also some of the most observant at the same time. They know that true observance means being a good neighbor.

If you met me in shul, I would greet you in sign language. However, my communication would be slow and tedious because other than the alphabet, I know few signs. I could write things to you, but it would be different on Shabbos; I have learned that writing is forbidden to us on that day. Reply

izzy August 6, 2010

Dear Anonymous, Im an orthodox Jew and dont, G-D forbid, hate deaf people; my BEST friend is deaf. Hes one of the finest men I know.

One who hates any Jew, deaf or not, is not orthodox! Remember Torah defines Judaism not people.

Dont abandon the Torah and G-D because of people who dont follow it.

G-D bless you and may you truly realize that orthodox Jews love you! Reply

Uri Yitzchak Orlando, FL August 6, 2010

re: Frustration Dear Anonymous; feel outraged and sad that fellow jews who are so called "observant' treat you this way. If you are discriminated by these people they are not religious at all- they are hypocrites at best. Unfortunatelly, there are bad apples in any place . The Torah commands us to love and respect the convert; and what these people are doing is publicly violating G-d's mitzvot. Try to find another orthodox community like Chabad where you will be treated as an equal. You should not be discouraged on your observance because of such individuals. Hope things will change for the better for you and your family Reply

Chaim Leib Berkeley, CA August 6, 2010

Re: Frustration When I read your comment, it bothered me a lot. I am also a convert. Being both Jewish and Japanese in Tennessee has meant that I was very often alone. In the public schools, I was the only one who wore a yarmulke and tzitzis and never ate cafeteria food. When I read your comment, all this came rushing back to me.

Around then, I discovered something while flipping through a siddur (prayerbook). "Do not be like servants who serve their master for reward; rather, be as servants who serve their master independent of any reward... Acquire a friend for yourself... Receive everyone with a cheerful countenance." I had discovered Avos (Ethics of Our Fathers), and I got hooked. The Torah gave me a way to connect to others.
I don't know if this helps, but I noticed an article today about some deaf rabbis. Maybe you woul like it? It was called "Musings From a Silent Torah Class."
May you go from strength to strength, increasing in joy, wealth and health, physically as well as spiritually. Reply

Anonymous August 5, 2010

Frustration I am deaf. I converted to judaism thinking i'd get the best of life. As a religious jew, all i see is frustration and people ignore me and they don't socialize with me etc..and their children are nasty to my children as well. I am proud to be a jew but not as an observant religious person. I lost my passion years ago. Deaf get discriminated by religious Orthodox and they hate us. So we are working on leaving this level. Reply

Devora ny August 5, 2010

response to Eric One shouldn't stop doing mitzvot if it is difficult. One can't stop doing something required of us although it may be hard - firstly because we are required to do it and secondly, THAT is part of the challenge.
Try to keep doing it fulfilling all it's requirements to the greatest extent possible without pushing yourself too far that you feel it's a burden which you wish to get rid of.
Good Luck and G-d will surely help you when He sees how hard you are trying! Reply

Miss Aysel Agayeva August 3, 2010

why passion dies? I think that regularly we need some motivation, desire and interest in order to keep our passion for God and religion. The thing is that love is such a phenomena every day it must be approved. Sometimes we forget about God and only when some goodness happens to us we remember about his existance. Reply

Anonymous dublin, ireland August 2, 2010

bored with mitzvas I have been a noahide for many years. I was brought up a catholic and if you want to know boredom try wandering through the meaningless cant and verbal dross as i have years ago. Sit in a church and examine the meaningless charms that sorround you. The architecture is seductive as is the literature and the music compelling. Then after many years painfully realise that it was mostly entertainment of the worst possible kind. My zeal has increased because i remember where i came from and where sadly some jews go. Reply

Izzie Jacobs July 31, 2010

Malkie Janowski Malkie Janowski is one of your finest! I always enjoy her sensitive and carefully reasoned responses. Well done! Reply

Eric S Mequon, WI via July 30, 2010

Your relationship with G-d is most important If you are merely going through a process but feel little connection to the Almighty by doing so, then the process holds much less meaning.

I suggest you stop all behaviors that you feel are burdensome. Perhaps you will then come to re-establish the meaningfulness of these actions at a later date.

I am reminded about Adam who knew when he was naked. He wanted very much to be clothed at that time. Perhaps you will feel similarly. Reply

Jason G Baltimore, MD July 30, 2010

Lose the thill I think a lot of it depends on your stage in life. I had lost some enthusiasm partly because I saw that not all of Orthodox Judaism is perfect. That's OK people (even including Rabbis) are not perfect just human. Re-read some of the things you read before like "Permission to Receive". If a particular issue(s) is (are) troubling you keep searching until you get an answer you can swallow. I recently had a Bar mitzvah because I had been Shabbos observant for 13 years. How long has it been for you? Make that a goal. If it's been less then 3 years have a hair cutting at 3 years like a little kid. You are creating your self over so why not. Reply

Lee July 30, 2010

what worked for me for me it is to keep learning at least an hour a day - i'm still doing it (usually) and i have fallen in love in Judaism all over again. And steadily; its been now like 5 years of steady love (after my prior down-and-out).


try learning ..... ain't nothin like it! Reply

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