Contact Us

I Feel Like a Hypocrite!

I Feel Like a Hypocrite!

 Email

Question:

As I’m sure you noticed, I have stopped attending your Friday night service. It is really nothing personal, everyone there was welcoming and a great bunch of people. It’s just that I feel like a liar saying the prayers when I don’t know if I believe in them. How can I proclaim “love G‑d with all your heart” when I don’t really feel that way?

Answer:

You have been married a couple of years now. I know that you love your wife dearly. But have you ever woken up one morning with a sense that you’ve lost that loving feeling? It could be that there has been a little tension between you (something perfectly normal in any good relationship), or maybe you have been feeling down for other reasons, or perhaps for no apparent reason at all; you just feel that your heart has turned to stone, and the warmth and love you once felt has all but disappeared.

What if, just at that moment, your wife asked you, “Do you love me?” Would it be a lie to tell her that you love her at such a time? Should you rather be honest and say, “Darling, right now, I’m not sure I do”?

Of course not! You should tell her confidently, “Of course I love you!” (And she’ll say, “I know, I just had to hear it.”) And that is not a lie. Because you do love her, it is just that the love is not manifest in your heart at that moment. It is there, it hasn’t gone anywhere, but your heart is blocked, and is not allowing you to experience the loving feeling. Just because you don’t feel the love doesn’t mean that you are no longer in love. You are just going through a “low,” as we all do from time to time, but the love is really there as it always was.

So it is perfectly honest to say “I love you,” even at a moment when you don’t feel it. And something weird happens when you do. Your heart starts to melt. Just by mouthing the words “I love you,” not because you felt like saying it, but because she needed to hear it, you have reached out of yourself, breaking through the shell that is blocking your heart. Now you are open to feel again. It won’t be long before the love starts gushing back, more powerful and passionate than ever.

The same applies to our relationship with G‑d. Our soul loves G‑d already, because our soul is a part of Him. But we often don’t feel that love in our hearts. We are spiritually blocked, our hearts are frozen to the soul and its feelings. The love is there, just like the soul is there, it is just not felt, not apparent.

We don’t have to wait for those feelings to come in order to pray. Sometimes it is the other way around—by saying the words of the prayers, even without feeling them, the layers of cynicism and doubt start to melt away and our soul starts to shine through.

In fact, there is no deeper prayer than this. When you tell your wife you love her, not because you feel that way right now, but because she needs to hear it, and you know it’s really true, what deeper expression of love could there be? In the same way, when you say the prayer not because you feel it, but because G‑d wants to hear it, then you are truly saying it for Him.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
Artwork by Sarah Kranz.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
 Email
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
54 Comments
1000 characters remaining
Kate Gladstone Albany, NY, USA December 26, 2012

To "Anonymous" To "Anonymous" — you write:

"From everything you wrote, it doesn't sound like you want/wanted to find G-d."

I want to find what is real. From everything you write, it doesn't sound as if you consider reality to be real enough or to be important enough unless someone decides that reality includes a "God" along with everything actually noticeable.

Re:

"It's like if your mom or dad said you should be friends with someone,"

I choose my own friends.

"and you decided that person was really lame"

What would anyone's being lame have to do with whether that person and I became friends? Do you think I am someone who picks my friends on the basis of whether or not they can walk? Reply

Anonymous December 26, 2012

Dear Kate Dear Kate,

I have no idea if you're reading this, nor any idea if you're still interested in this topic. But, I'll write this anyway.

You wrote, "Re: "Treat G-d as you would a new friend ..."
-- this process thoroughly failed: it failed to provide evidence that the "friend" even exists."

From everything you wrote, it doesn't sound like you want/wanted to find G-d. If you don't truly want to find something, it will never be found. It sounds more like you want/wanted to prove that you were/are right in believing there is no G-d. It's completely fine if you don't want to believe - we all have a choice in what we believe/don't believe. But if you're heading into something with the idea that G-d doesn't exist, then you will always be proven right that G-d doesn't exist. It's like if your mom or dad said you should be friends with someone, and you decided that person was really lame - it wouldn't matter how he/she really was, you would see that person as lame. Reply

louise leon December 10, 2012

Since I have no recollection of my 2010 comment that true love is immutable, I now state uncategorically that unconditional love is immutable. So there ! Reply

louise leon long pond, PA November 28, 2010

love I agree. Love is immutable if it's true. Reply

Kate Gladstone Albany, NY/USA November 27, 2010

Robin I have explored the web-site. I have yet to find anything that looks to me like "riches." Reply

Robin Margolis Washington, DC November 26, 2010

Try a class Dear Kate and Anonymous in Camarillo:

Robin stated: ""Jewish mysticism techniques cannot be learned through argument."

Kate asked: "How are they learned? And is questioning permitted when learning?"

Robin replies: "Chabad has a ton of Jewish mysticism books and videos. They also have Kabbalah classes, both online and in their bricks-and-mortar builidings. You might want to consider taking some. Check out the Chabad "Kabbalah Online" website:

Regarding "questioning" -- it would depend on the individual teacher's approach and what the questions were."

Anonymous in Camarillo stated: "If someone wants to read what is on this website and learn about Judaism, for whatever reason, that decision should not be discouraged or criticized. "

Robin replies: I can't speak for other commenters, but I've been doing my dangdest to persuade Kate to utilize the immense spiritual riches on this website.

Help me out here, Camarillo! Reply

Anonymous Camarillo, CA November 25, 2010

Not an anti-atheist website; Chabad welcomes Kate At one time, educated and uneducated Jews went to different shuls. Those who expressed unacceptable views could be excommunicated, or, in earlier times, executed. More recently, many Jews believed it was pointless to put tefilin on someone who did not know what there were.

Chabad rejects this notion and says that anyone is welcome, even those who do not practice Judaism, are married to gentiles, etc.

Chabad teaches that everyone has divine sparks that just need elevating.

Someone who is atheistic now may change in the future, if so encouraged.

And a request for proof is a good thing. Robin does not ask atheists to prove their views because Robin's mind is made up and nothing will "prove" atheism to Robin. Kate is still open enough to religion that a real attempt at proof of God may change Kate into a believer.

If someone wants to read what is on this website and learn about Judaism, for whatever reason, that decision should not be discouraged or criticized. Reply

Robin Washington, DC November 24, 2010

Respect for Kate Kate, one more thing. I respect your quest for G-d. I have been in your shoes. I was an atheist/agnostic for 15 years at one point, because G-d had not, in my view, responded to my pleas with unequivocal proof of G-d's existence.

So you are not alone. I am just suggesting that you may wish to change your approach to your quest. If you view mystical techniques that did not work for you as being "damaging" to you and see them in terms of what is "right" and "wrong" --- that may not be the right approach.

A failed mystical technique is simply a tool that didn't work for a person. There are hundreds of other mystical practices that can be tried. Yitzhak Buxbaum's book, "Jewish Spiritual Practices," has over 2,000 traditional practices.

There are hundreds more on Chabad.org. One of them may be your key. Everyone has a different gate into the Torah. The Hasidic mystics emphasized that a practice which works for one person may not be the right practice for another person. Reply

Kate Gladstone Albany, NY/USA November 24, 2010

reply Re:

"That is philosophical debate, not spirituality."
So much the worse for spirituality.

"Jewish mysticism techniques cannot be learned through argument."
How are they learned? And is questioning permitted when learning? Reply

Robin Washington, DC November 24, 2010

Kate, Not A Debate Website Please excuse me if I am not phrasing this well, but it seems to me that you have a misconception about the best way to learn about Jewish mysticism.

You keep talking about "arguing" and "right" and "wrong" and "conclusions" and "proof." That is philosophical debate, not spirituality.

Jewish mysticism, like every other form of mysticism, is experienced. It cannot be proven "right" or "wrong." Nor can G-d's existence be proven"right" or "wrong" on a believers' website.

If you wish to "argue" about proofs for G-d's existence and ways of connecting with G-d that you have found don't work for you, there are many debating forums all over the internet where atheists and believers talk.

But the Kabbalah and the rest of Jewish mysticism techniques cannot be learned through argument. Reply

Kate Albany, NY November 24, 2010

reply I visit here and argue because I consider it useful to see who's right. If I'm wrong, I want to find that out. If you're wrong, wouldn't you also want to find out?

Re: "If you want to reconnect with G-d in a Jewish context, there are many more ways beyond the techniques discussed in this thread, and we could share them with you. But is that what you truly want?"

Re "the wrong type of conversation" -- then the only right type of conversation is the kind where one person expects the other person to begin by agreeing with the first one's conclusions?

Re "reconnect with God" — there is no "re-" here. I wasn't ever connected with God, any more than with anything else I'd have no reason to regard as existing.

Re whether I want "many more ways" to do it --
that depends on those "many more ways": what they require, and where they bring me. If you share those ways, and they damage me, I'll explain that, as soon as I find out -- and will thank you for your efforts to help, & go no further. Reply

Robin Washington, DC November 24, 2010

Kate -- what is your real question? Kate -- I've been following your comments and I'm baffled. You seem to be a Jewish atheist, so why are you visiting Chabad.org and arguing against G-d's existence with a group of mostly believers?

If you're interested in reconnecting with G-d, it seems pointless to attack G-d's existence on Chabad.org and ask, in effect, that the rest of us prove to you that G-d exists. We can only share with you what we know about connecting with G-d.

To put this in context -- I don't visit the website of the Society for Humanistic Judaism -- a respected group of Jewish agnostics and atheists -- and ask that they prove their beliefs to me, as someone who believes in G-d. It would be the wrong type of conversation about G-d.

If you want to reconnect with G-d in a Jewish context, there are many more ways beyond the techniques discussed in this thread, and we could share them with you. But is that what you truly want? Reply

Robin Washington, DC November 24, 2010

Estheyr Dear Estheyr:

If you are experiencing a "low going on forever" -- if it is a "low" in belief in G-d, there is lots of material on Chabad.org about this that is very good.

If you are feeling an emotional "low" that is going on too long, I'd suggest consulting a therapist before it turns into a depression.

Cordially, Reply

Kate Gladstone Albany, NY/USA November 24, 2010

replying Re:
"How can one trust science when science consistently deems earlier versions of itself obsolete?"

That is EXACTLY why I trust it: science learns and improves each day. Whom should one trust: one who says “I have been wrong, so I always strive to correct and improve myself" or one who says "I am infallible and perfect"?

Re:
"Are you Jewish?"
I was born of a Jewish mother, who was born of a Jewish mother, who was born of a Jewish mother ... as far back as I can trace. Do you count that as Jewish?

I don't call myself an atheist, seasoned or otherwise: just someone who asks questions and who has been given answers that don't answer. (The biggest non-answering "answer": "maybe you know the truth but you are just jealous and angry." This is also the "answer" given by most Christians when they are questioned.) There are seasoned and unseasoned folks everywhere: among atheists & among Jews too.

Rabbi Tsvi Freeman's articles impress me even less than Chabad's. Reply

natan Brooklyn, NY November 23, 2010

Kate Kate;
1. Are you Jewish? From your first post on this thread, it seems that not. Of course Jewish mitzvos will have no effect.

2. Silly me, I should have grasped at the onset that you are an atheist (Not your fault that I didn't get that.) and my comments and advice would have been on a completely different track, if any.

3. Isn't it hypocritical to jump into this thread acting as if you have the same problem as the op (who has faith but has lost touch)?

4. Then maybe deep inside you know the truth, but jealousy and anger drives you to the path you have chosen. (As is common with many 'atheists'.)

5. Your arguments in your previous post are quite amateurish for a seasoned atheist:). As I said, this thread is not the proper forum for this and unfair to others. I'll gladly meet you elsewhere. But I'll let you have the last word between us here.

6. Why not check out Rabbi Tzvi Freeman's articles here and on the web, and discuss this issue there.

All the best. Reply

Kate Gladstone Albany, NY/USA November 22, 2010

replies I was trained to light candles: was told "someday you'll care, if you do it enough" — the answer that can't answer: that supports meaningless action as well as it supports anything else.

To show "God is everywhere"? First, show it's even possible for something to be everywhere. Evidence shows otherwise.

Re "short ... daily periods of meditation and prayer, ... may take a while ... "
How much of "a while" for a fair try? Months? Years? Decades? An entire life? I gave such a try (more than a decade) to test the matter fairly. You ask more?

Re: " 'Modeh Ani,' as a meditation mantra."
This (& other recommended practices) didn't have the predicted result in all those years I worked sincerely on the matter.

Re: "G-d may not always respond to impatient 'summons' ..."
Would you call it "impatient" to spend over a decade checking the matter out?

Re: "Treat G-d as you would a new friend ..."
-- this process thoroughly failed: it failed to provide evidence that the "friend" even exists. Reply

natan Brooklyn, NY November 21, 2010

Kate Scientists: Are you referring to the global warming scientists that falsified tons of data so that science should agree with their agenda?
Or are you referring to the scientists that admit they do not understand 'dark matter' even though it is a key ingredient of the universe, and therefore they say that most of the existing theories are out the window. (research 'dark matter')
Or are you referring to the thousands of scientists that have found God VIA science and became religious?
An honest scientist whose agenda is truly to find truth, will do so (with god's help). Otherwise, the human emotions and politics will use science to hide the truth.

How can one trust science when science consistently deems earlier versions of itself obsolete?

Most of the aforementioned applies to Doctors as well. They also realize that there has to be a supernatural being producing and maintaining life and health.
natan
ps. Pls excuse me for not refraining from writing again here. I'll try to hold back. Reply

Kate Gladstone Albany, NY/USA November 21, 2010

Shoshanah Re:
"everything in our created world has parts (cells, molecules, etc.)"

Some types of subatomic particles are indivisible/ They have no parts. If not having parts = God, then you must believe in billions of very, very tiny Gods.
;-)

Seriously:
The occurrence of pleasant events doesn't prove unlimited power on the part of some good being, any more than the occurence of unpleasant events proves that unlimited power belongs to some bad being.

Re:
" Look at all the magnificent creation He gave us - the sky, the sun, moon, stars. The ground, the grass, flowers, trees - we are surrounded by His love for us. Look at yourself, your body, your eyes and brain and heart, your very life and you will surely love Him."

Oh? Then why are so many scientists and doctors atheists?

I have looked at those things for all of my life. I still don't love God. Stop being so sure of your idea that I will "surely" share your idea! Reply

Shoshanah Yerushalayim, Israel November 21, 2010

Does G-d need our love? First of all, G-d does not need us or anything at all since He is One. To say that He needs is implying a lack and He lacks nothing as He is One and complete. This is a concept which we worldly beings cannot
conceive of because everything in our created world has parts (cells, molecules, ets.) and nothing is one, except G-d. 'HEAR O ISRAEL THE LORD OUR G-D THE LORD IS ONE'.
So why does He want us to love Him? Because our purpose in this world and the reason He created us is that we get to know Him and feel close to Him for our own good. How can we love Him? Look at all the magnificent creation He gave us - the sky, the sun, moon, stars. The ground, the grass, flowers, trees - we are surrounded by His love for us. Look at yourself, your body, your eyes and brain and heart, your very life and you will surely love Him.
And evidence of His love for you? Were you ever sick and got better? Did you ever narrowly escape a danger? Did you ever just get someplace just in time not to miss the train? Reply

Rob W. Pittsburgh, PA / USA November 18, 2010

Hope for the Hypocrites -- including me! Thanks to Rabbi Moss for a great article, and to all of you for the lively debate. Keep in mind that highest love is not a feeling, it's a policy. We humans can't directly control our feelings; if we could, we'd be blissful all the time. We can, however, make some choices independently of our feelings. Judaism is not just some belief, opinion, feeling, dogma, etc. It's also the mitzvot (commandments). Lest I be hypocritical here, I'm no tzadik (righteous person), but I am beginning to learn that Judaism is not just something Jews think or feel or say, it's something Jews do. It's a discipline -- like spiritual Karate if you will. If we make the choice to keep kosher, give charity, praise G-d, keep Sabbath, etc., regardless of how we feel, then we are bringing holiness and spirituality to the world and to our lives. If a skeptic like me can finds some meaning by grappling with this stuff, maybe anyone can. Reply

Related Topics