Shlomo Ezagui

Convincing the heart with one’s mind.

Tim Mossholder

We all know that making resolutions is much easier than carrying them out. How do we overcome this challenge and difficulty?

“I am God your God who took you out of Egypt; widen your mouth, and I will fill it.” In Hebrew, the word for Passover (Exodus) is Pesach, “the mouth that speaks a lot.” All the commandments of the Passover night Seder are related to the mouth:
Drinking the four cups
Eating the matzah and the bitter herbs
Recounting the story of Exodus

If that is not enough, the name of the month in Hebrew is Nissan, which is the numerical value of 170, two times the word for “mouth,” Peh, in Hebrew!

The two portions of the Torah that follow Passover deal with the rules of kosher — the esophagus — and the week after that, the rules of not speaking gossip — the windpipe. Together with Passover, there is a sequence in the number of three, which in Jewish law is significant, all related to the mouth. Inside the mouth lies the answer to slavery and freedom.

Chassidic philosophy explains that the spiritual slavery which constricts and constrains a person all begins when one fails to acknowledge a fundamental reality.

The critical aspect differentiating a human being from any other creature is that “we” are not our bodies. We are not (we are not compelled, and we do not “have to”) by birth, slaves to the drives and emotions of our natural tendencies.

Other creations and creatures do not possess third-person awareness of themselves. A tree or a house, mammals and birds, and insects… all operate and are bound within the natural parameters of their bodies. On the other hand, humans are endowed with a Godly ability to choose their destinies. This is because God Himself blew a soul, a portion of Himself, into our nostrils so that we could — and therefore we should — with that extra edge, consciously, through acquiring knowledge, make the right and proper choices.

Once we make an effort — what it takes to pursue knowledge — and learn about the good, the bad, and the ugly, this awareness becomes one of the many choices available to us.

However, conclusions of the mind — before they can spark the emotions to get the person moving in the right direction — must pass through the narrow strait of the neck, and herein lies the problem and the solution.

The neck is narrower than the head above and the body below. The neck channel contains within it the windpipe, the esophagus, and the arteries of life.

According to Chassidus, it is the constant self-indulgent pursuits of life itself — like living to eat tasty delights, speaking words that serve the self (especially when at the expense of others), and generally living just to enjoy oneself — and living with narcissism and hedonism, that creates the barrier between us and spiritual wisdom; it impedes our ability to awaken the emotions for the Holy and spiritual.

The more a person immerses himself in the coarseness of flesh (self-centeredness), the less likely he becomes a candidate for the refined yet powerful intellect to affect emotions.

Conversely, the more a person uses their lives—and particularly their mouths and all that is in it, eating, speaking, and living for a higher spiritual goal and mission — the easier, the greater, and the more influential the flow becomes from the conclusions of the wisdom to the heart.

Someone once wrote to Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson to solve the problem of carrying through with one’s resolutions. The Rebbe told him to write down his resolutions and read them aloud, once before the bed prayers and once before the morning prayers.

Another solution is, in the words of our sages, “Voice arouses.” To read out loud, when we are doing our daily prayers and our daily Torah studies, to speak out loud the invigorating and strengthening words that we are reading, to enunciate the words of the prayer and the Torah. This alone can and will connect, to some degree, the thoughts of our mind with the wind in our bodies to assist with the positive, impactful feelings of the heart.

Chapter 227

About the Author
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui is an author and lecturer. "A Spiritual Soul Book" ( & "Maimonides Advice for the 21st Century" ( In 1987, Rabbi Ezagui opened the first Chabad Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the first Orthodox Synagogue on the island of Palm Beach, Florida.
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