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A Brainy Emotion

A Brainy Emotion

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You follow a recipe to the “tee,” and yet it royally flops. You adhere to the formula faithfully, but it somehow doesn’t yield the results you anticipated. Is there something wrong with what you are doing—or worse, with you?

While a failed pastry may reflect on a faulty recipe or on a person who did not followResults are G‑d’s department it exactly, when it comes to following Torah’s directives, there is something else at play. Even if you don’t experience the kind of results you anticipated, if you follow the Torah’s protocol for serving G‑d, you need not feel frustration over not seeing tangible results to your efforts. The results are G‑d’s department.

Say you are a spiritually hard-working Jewess who spends a considerable amount of time meditating about the greatness of G‑d in the hopes of creating a deep love and awe of your Creator. To your surprise, while you may develop an appreciation for G‑d and while intellectually understand that you “should” be drumming up a palpable love in your heart, no such love develops. You are not at fault.

In Chapter 16 of Tanya, the Alter Rebbe reassures you that that’s OK. Some souls are just not the “type” to be gushing with passionate love for G‑d, even after praying and meditating at length. The most they experience is tevuna, an intellectual or “brainy” emotion.

If you are such a person, then this tevuna suffices as sufficient motivation to perform the mitzvot, and acts as “wings” to the mitzvot, enabling them to rise heavenward, as if motivated by a conscious love.

This is the meaning of what it says in the Talmud, “The Holy One, blessed be He, joins a good thought to the deed.” If a Jew has a “good thought”—meaning, invests in meditating about G‑d—then even if he or she does not reveal tangible emotions in their heart, G‑d allows the tevuna to function as if it’s a real feeling. And so, He links the “brainy emotion” with the mitzvah it motivates. It is considered like “the real thing.”

Tanya Bit: I am responsible for the effort. G‑d is responsible for the result.

(Inspired from Chapter 16 of Tanya)

Sara Blau is a teacher and extracurricular director at Beth Rivkah High School. She is a wife, mother, and author of several children“s books.
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