Tanya Bits: A Little Dose of Wisdom for Daily Living

Bite-sized nuggets inspired from the Tanya

Realistic Expectations
We like when expectations are realistic. When things seem accessible. And we often feel so helpless when they are not.
A Perpetual Paradox
I feel the need to be altruistic, coupled with the need for self-preservation.
What’s Your Element?
Each of the four elements spiritually symbolizes a core character trait of the animal soul.
Infinite Worth
What really is the secret to a strong self-esteem?
A Feeling Is Born . . .
Do other people or situations actually cause our feelings? Or is it something internal that produces them?
Spiritual Wardrobe
It is love of G‑d that drives the fulfillment of His commands, and the awe of G‑d that allows one to refrain from doing what is forbidden.
A Holy Hug
Can you imagine approaching G‑d and hugging Him? Like, really embracing His essence? Is such an encounter even possible?
Digesting G-d
When one learns Torah, the mind is absorbing G‑d’s will and wisdom.
The ‘Other’ Wardrobe
90 percent of our thoughts, speech or action can go either way, expressing the G‑dly soul or the Animal soul.
Peeling the Fruit
Fruits and nuts aren’t the only things with a shell that has to be removed. Much of reality is covered in a shell, a layer that conceals the G‑dliness found in the world.
The Power of Reverse
As soon as you discover that you have derailed—and decide to get back and on track in serving G‑d with every physical act—you can retroactively insert a holy intention into any permissible action done without the express intention of serving G‑d.
When Good Intentions Fall Short
You may have all the good intentions in the world and may sincerely wish to make someone happy, but if you go against their express desire, they most definitely won’t be pleased.
Your Opponent . . . Not Really
Your G‑dly soul tries to assert itself over your body. Your animal soul swoops in like a medieval king fighting for territory, desperately trying to win over those very same thoughts, speech and actions. It’s an endless battle, and you are the battlefield.
Fundamentally Different
In order for us to understand which level we can strive for, we need to understand our limitations.
When the Animal Soul Wins the Battle, but Not the War
You could punch it, kick it, ignore it or wrestle with it, but it will never be defeated. This is the personality of the G‑dly soul, which never gives up the good fight against the animal soul.
Round-the-Clock Restraint
My mind can control my heart, and therefore, it is my greatest tool to assist me in the battle against the animal soul’s wants.
Defining ‘Right Size’
We sometimes find ourselves swinging from feelings of grandiosity to feelings of incompetency.
Relative Truth
Just because he does not fully succeed in his emotional perfection, that does not render his service of G‑d “untrue.”
Best Attempt
How could I contemplate eating something that my brain perceives as being repugnant?
A Spiritual Workout
“Just five more minutes,” I told myself, yet every turn of the pedal was strenuous, disproportionately harder than the entire 30-minute workout. The struggle was real.
A Brainy Emotion
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.
Motivation to Act
Isn’t it difficult to generate feelings of love and awe of G‑d?
Prone to Faith
Your soul is spiritually predisposed to something of a spiritual nature—an inborn faith and love of G‑d, inherited from your forefathers.
Triggering the Soul
The thicker our sense of self, the dimmer our connection to this light in our soul.
We all have those moments as parents. The child doesn’t want to comply or demands an explanation, and you respond with “because I said so.”
Constant Creation
While we may not be aware of it, we are united with G‑d at every moment.
Subtle Denial
While G‑d created a world where we subjectively seem independent of Him, His intention was that we would invest effort to discover the truth—that at every moment, He is our true life force.
Internal Will
What came first, the creation of the world or G‑d’s desire for mitzvot?
Intimate Knowledge
When you learn the words of Torah, there is intimacy. You’re not “just doing G‑d a favor” by fulfilling his mitzvot; you are getting to know G‑d.
Out of Touch
It’s not a petty annoyance, but going against the very purpose of why He created the world! Whether it is a “small sin” or a “big sin” is irrelevant; the fact that G‑d doesn’t like it causes a disconnect between Jew and G‑d.
Pledge of Allegiance
“And your two chickens that you actually own, would you give those to the czar?!”
Re-Adjusting Priorities
When a curve ball is thrown your way, it can either disrupt your life or enhance your life. The difference is in your priorities and your perspective.
Expose the Guilt
How should you deal with depression over spiritual downfalls?
Shameless Struggle
There is no shame in struggle. If anything, shame is rooted in a person’s ego, where he expects himself to be exempt from the struggle experienced by the rest of humanity.
Stiff Competition
Can’t your brain ever give you a break? Can you ever have peace from the pesky animal soul?
Reality Check
What if, no matter how many chapters of Tanya you learn, you feel apathetic and lack the emotional connection to prayer and self-improvement?
Righteous Indignation
You want to feel warm, passionate and motivated. Instead, you remain indifferent and unenthusiastic, plugging along with a lukewarm Judaism.
A Slice of Humble Pie
Sometimes, in order to be truly spiritual, you need to feed your ego a slice of introspective humble pie.
Happy for Your Soul
My animal soul might trip me up, but my G‑dly soul remains untouchable. Isn’t that a reason to rejoice?
The Heart of Torah
If I am a body and you are a body, then your existence interferes with mine. But if I am a soul and you are a soul, then we are only one existence.
The Secret to Real Happiness
Fulfilling my purpose brings a double joy: My soul’s mission is accomplished, and G‑d’s desire is satisfied.
How to Access G-d
Where is G‑d? Wherever you reveal Him.
What’s the Point?
I was working out on the treadmill, and my son was looking at me strangely. “But what’s the point, Mommy?” he asked. “Why are you walking if you’re not even going anywhere?”
Home Sweet Home
Every time a Jew performs a mitzvah, he or she tears down a bit of the kelipa—the forces that deny G‑d.
Your Piece of the World
No one can transform the corner of the world reserved just for you.
Calling G-d Over
Learning Torah is like calling G‑d over; He can’t help but respond.
Move Your Lips
Judaism is not about disconnecting from the physical to reach the Divine, but bringing the Divine into the physical.
Somebody’s Watching
When we know that someone is around, we are on our best behavior.
Treasure Hunt
Imagine knowing with certainty that a treasure exists within you, and all you gotta do is dig, dig, dig.
An Artisan of Faith
As an artist, I tend to notice all the details automatically, even if I’m not in the midst of a painting. My eye is trained.
About Those Prerequisites . . .
Learning at the uppermost levels necessitates regimen.
The Love of Your Life
Can you really come to love G‑d, or is that a lofty goal relevant only to the few “spiritual souls” out there?
For G-d’s Sake
Sometimes, kids want prizes for their behavior or to be acknowledged for their help. And sometimes, kids are not focused on themselves but on their parents.
Go for the Gold!
All metals were not created equal.
Have Some Compassion
Just as when you tug at the bottom of a rope and the top of the rope gets pulled as well, when the animal soul is “pulled” into temptations, the G‑dly soul is dragged along.
Reciprocal Love
When we think of all the good deeds G‑d has done for us, we are bound to feel love back towards Him.
Removing the Barriers
It may take effort on the grandfather’s part, but were he to deliver a college-level lecture to the child, it would be way above his head. In order to connect, he needs to remove all barriers.
Channel the Passion
What should you do with your desire to be spiritual?
Where Is G-d’s Brain?
Many phenomena that take place in the human body are actually a reflection and can be used as an analogy to understand abstract concepts about G‑d.
Burn the Habit
There’s a spiritual fire that also needs some “wood” to burn.
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