Shlomo Ezagui

The Power of Passion

Jamie Street

Many of you, I am sure, have heard the saying, “Be careful what you think, for your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, and your habits become your character.”

In this chapter, I will shed some light on this statement. The path from thought to habit to character is sometimes more indirect than it sounds.

Mysticism explains that the highest internal faculty of the soul is intellect. After that comes the emotions, which, most of the time, are the outcome of intellect. Mind, intellect, rational discernment, and emotions project themselves out of the person through thought, speech, and action.

For intellect or emotion to become action, they must go through the channels of thought and speech, or at the very least speech, as it is within thought. We think in terms of words and language. Once a person determines intellectually that he wants to do something, it will not automatically happen that he will be moved to do anything. He must consider action and plan how and what he wants to do. This thought toward action is something additional, separate from the intellect that concluded that it was essential to act. Thinking to act requires making the extra effort to think about action.

The same hurdles exist in transforming thought into speech. Speech is focused entirely on the external, and thus on a spiritual level, it is lower than thought, which is altogether within oneself. Speech is also more superficial and involves a degree of posturing; because it occurs externally, it is not automatic.

Thought in and of itself does not dictate or oblige speech, just like concluding that something is important and essential in one’s intellect will not force a person to consider how and what to act on those conclusions. It is entirely possible that a person can think about anything and will never consider speaking about it. He may even doubt whether he should speak at all about what he is thinking.

The same is true of the (garment) expression of speech to action. Action is separate from the person and is an external garment of the soul. Therefore, the path from speech to action has the same two catches: firstly, the speech will not necessarily lead to action; secondly, for there to be action, intentional consideration of the appropriate steps is necessary.

The effort required for one’s speech to lead to action is even greater than that needed to turn thought into speech because the action is even further from speech than speech is from thought.

The driving force that propels this process is will. Will and resolve are born from one’s intellect.

Now comes the giant flashing “However.” When will, resolve, and determination come not because of logical reasoning but because of pleasure and enjoyment, i.e., the will was not born of intellect, but because of a deep desire this “will” is so powerful that it influences the intellect and emotions through all the steps of expression, and will automatically accelerate the flow to the action, without delay. “Nothing stands in the way of a desire and will.”

This desire/will for something because of pleasure sways the mind, fires up the emotions, and forces the process from thought to speech to deed to move quickly, with little hindrance. Because of this intense will infused with pleasure, the person will not rest until and only when the goal is reached.

So, back to where we started. Turning thought into an improved character and for the transition to work smoothly, this is greatly enhanced and accelerated when preceded by a personal passion for the end results.

Chapter 149

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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