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.