Dear Chevra, BS”D
Our senses, specifically our eyes, are under siege. Eidelkeit, the Jewish traits of embarrassment and shyness, nobility and refinement, are under attack. The world would like to see us indulge in the aveiros, the forbidden trespasses, specified in Acharei-Mos. In today’s world we are inundated with an impropriety that threatens to anihilate our essential Jewish selves. Innate within every Jewish person is an embarrassment and shyness, a nobility and refinement. For the nations of the world acting on impulse comes naturally, but for us, aristocracy, the noble grandchildren of Avraham, Yitzchok, and Yaakov, acting on impulse is an awkward challenge. Hashem blessed us, the Jewish people, with eidel eyes; eyes that appreciate Eideleh Zachin, refined things, things that are permeated with the beauty of Godliness. Each of us, with eidel eyes, will see the greatest beauty in the areas of Torah that our essential Jewish selves are most connected with. Like an infinitely sided diamond, we must identify the “sides” of Torah that our eyes most enjoy gazing at. If we aren’t focused on the beauty of Torah, if our eyes aren’t eidel, if our eye’s aren’t looking at Eideleh Zachin, then we will come to stare at the crass and the coarse, Chas v’Shalom.
Many years ago I attended an adult bris performed by Reb Dovid Krohn. Before the bris began Reb Dovid’s usually gentle countenance became very serious and stern. He told the fellow about to undergo the procedure, “As you enter into the covenant of Bris Milah, you have a responsibility to guard your bris. Guard your bris by guarding your eyes. The eyes see, the heart desires, the body fulfills. Now that you are entering into bris milah, you must guard your eyes.” Strong and no-nonsense, Reb Dovid Krohn’s sincere words, penetrated deep into the bones of all who heard them with the force of a commandment.
More than being a “nice thing to do,” cultivating eidel eyes and an appreciation for Eideleh Zachin is a fundamental yesod, cornerstone, of Yiddishkeit. Eidelkeit safeguards our purity and royal stature. A woman once came to the Mezritcher Maggid improperly clad. So refined and eidel were the Maggid’s eyes, that upon seeing the woman, the Mezritcher Maggid vomited on impulse.
Parshas Acharei-Mos admonishes us to be involved with eidelkeit, refined and noble undertakings. Parshas Kedoshim brings the eitzah, the solution, for how to be eidel, noble and refined. The eitzah is the commandment Kedoshim Tiheyu, to be holy; through having a geshmak, intense pleasure, in our Yiddishkeit, we will become holy.
A number of year ago I asked Rabbi Benzion Twerski from Milwaukee for an eitza to be strong in Yiddishkeit; his eitza: “How should I know about your Yiddishkeit (i.e. every Jew must take responsibility to be the expert in his (or hers) own Yiddishkeit); but, be that as it may, make sure you have a geshmak, an excitement, in your Yiddishkiet.” Real Yiddishkeit is never boring. Always exciting, real Yiddishkeit has a natural affinity for all things eidel, noble, and refined. If Yiddishkeit begins to feel boring, Chas v’Shalom, it is no longer authentic Yiddishkiet, but a mere lookalike; and boredom is the gateway through which non-Torah influence enters. As bnei Adam, human beings, we need and crave excitement. One question we must ask ourselves: Where, in Yiddishkeit, do we find excitement?
If the study of mussar excites you, learn mussar. If the study of Chassidus excites you, learn chassidus. If the Study of Gemora excites you, learn Gemora. If cooking food for cholim, the sick, excites you, go to the kitchen and cook. If simchas chasson v’kallah excites you, go to a wedding and dance, sing, and make the chasson and kallah happy. Aside from the tremendous excitement, visiting with tzaddikim of the generation also helps in the cultivation of eidelkeit and many other praiseworthy character traits. The main thing is that we should avoid sin and be holy. How do we avoid sin? By cultivating eidel, refined eyes, and an appreciation for all things eidel. And how do we become holy? By finding the areas of Torah True Living that excite us, bringing us the greatest pleasure, and focusing our enthusiasm on those areas.
Wishing you an Eidel and Geshmak Shabbos.