Posts Tagged ‘adin steinzaltz’

Bust a Move!

April 2, 2015

After the rabbi’s sermon this Shabbat (R’ Adin Steinzaltz in the Chabad shul of the old city), I found myself trying to classify psychological resistances.  I tried to figure how many levels of resistance exist.  A resistance happens when we’re stuck in some kind of pattern of behavior that we can’t break out of.  It comes into play when there is a growth step in front of us, and we’re afraid to take it.  An example is a person who perpetually eats foods that are not healthy, even though he knows that such foods are not good for him.  He is resistant to changing his eating patterns.  You might call that a “daily resistance.”  Then, you have others whose resistance is in the area of personal relationships.  They may be shy, and find it difficult to change the nature of their personality in order to crawl out of their shell and form relationships.  You might call that a “yearly resistance,” because it may take years to overcome.  Finally, there are those who are born with a certain natural personality.  Some people are intellectual by nature, for example.  They love to study and think and meditate.  They are filled with amazement at every new thing that they learn.  So, it is very difficult for them to break out of their nature and get involved with tikun olam – with social involvement and “fixing the world.”  I’m going to call that a “lifetime resistance,” because to overcome it, one has to change not only the personality with which they grew up, but their genetic nature from birth.  So, we have here three different levels – one who has to change his behavior, though not necessarily his personality.  Another has to change his personality, from introverted to extroverted.  The third has the greatest challenge of all; he must change his nature, and that is virtually impossible.  Who among us is able to make a switch from the way he was born, to some other kind of nature?  It is much easier to change the nature of your personality than to change your pesonal nature.  Yet, that’s what we are called upon to do on Pesach.  We’re called to “bust a move.”  And that is why Rabbi Steinzaltz closed his drasha by telling us that it is not enough to eat the matza and maror and drink the wine.  We also have to “bust a move,” to break on through to the other side, each according to his own challenges.  During the original Pessach, the Jews made a move – they left Egypt behind.  We are called on to do the same next Friday night – each of us to look for the personal mitzrayim (Egypt but also “limitations”) and leave it behind.  That’s the Pesach challenge – the rest is up to us.

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Chag kasher v’sameach!

It’s not about what, it’s about how…

September 15, 2014

Back in 1989, when I was the director of the local Chabad house in the old city of Jerusalem, a “Chabad Squad” from Miami came to visit.  The Chabad House hosted a Shabbat lunch for the group and I persuaded Rabbi Adin Steinzaltz to come and speak with them.  I still recall his words – “What do we have in common, what is the connection between you and I”?  R’ Steinzaltz is famous for speaking his mind, and the crowd loved it.  These days, we have our own Chabad House – Jerusalem Connection – but I remain a member of the Tzemach Tzedek Shul where R’ Steinzaltz prays.  Yesterday was Shabbat Chai Ellul, and once more as in years past, there was a “Chabad squad” visiting from Miami.  I had my own Shabbat group to speak with, but I stayed long enough to hear R’ Steinzaltz address the visitors.  This time his words were different: “There are no real differences between Jews.  Whether Litvaks, Chasidim or anyone else, we’re all the same.  So, we should sit down on Chai Ellul and say lechaim and sing Hava Nagila.”  Different words from the same sage, but with the same positive effect on the crowd.  Lesson?  It matters less what you say than how you say it…If you want to know how we say it, go to and you’ll get a nice word of Torah on the weekly portion.  If you want something deeper and more systematic, try, and pick up something on prayer and meditation.  And if you want to know more about Chabad and Jerusalem, try  Finally, there’s a great e-magazine of Chasidic Judaica out there – – so you see there’s something for everyone!