What if I'm not in the mood to do a mitzvah? Isn't it better to do less of the obligations but with a fuller heart, than to fulfill them with an unenthusiastic heart?


That depends on how you view life. If your life is all about "self-realization," then yes, it may make sense to focus more on where your inner self is at than what you're doing. But Judaism views life as a mission: we are here to make this world a better place through our actions. We Jews have always stressed deed over creed, and we don't allow ourselves the luxury of "waiting until I can do it for the right reasons," which is a subtle form of selfishness—albeit a more spiritual expression of selfishness than the standard version.

A short story to illustrate this idea:

There was once a wealthy man who was known for his philanthropy and kindness. No beggar left his home hungry and without a generous donation. Nevertheless, this man was plagued by inner turmoil. He felt that his charity lacked "truth"; it was the product of ulterior, subtly selfish, motives.

He traveled to his Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812, founder of Chabad Chassidism), and poured out his spiritually troubled heart. "Is it all worth it," he asked, "if it's missing the most fundamental ingredient of truth?"

Rabbi Schneur Zalman responded: "But the hungry man you've fed is 'truly' not hungry now!"

There was a teacher who told the Lubavitcher Rebbe that he's taking a break from his job to devote some time to "find himself" and "figure out what its all about." The rebbe's response was: And what about your students? What should they be deprived of what you can give them because you're looking for yourself?

On the other hand, it is certainly a worthy and important goal to do things "with all our heart," as we say in the Shema. But when facing the choice between doing something without feeling or not doing it at all—just do it!

Click here for an inspiring article on this vexing issue. And also check out the articles in our knowledge base on the topic of Action; Deed.