by Akiva of Mystical Paths
As people become religious, or rather as they encounter Torah and a religious lifestyle, and people with a connection with Hashem, the soul awakens, it bursts into flame through the grunge and piles of dirt of life. An enthusiasm, a thirst is born. And it’s a joy to have, and a joy to see. Even to the point, for some who have grown up within the religious world, it’s almost scary. Such a yearning and thirst for Hashem and Torah, it’s weird, seems unbalanced. It’s not, it’s just a soul coming alive.
And, thank G-d, the Torah world has many people who devote themselves to helping make this happen, and helping people take their first steps towards a Torah life. And as those people arrive with their enthusiasm, they flock to these wonderful ‘outreach’ people as a source of the light, emissaries for Hashem. Doesn’t matter whether the outreach people are from Chabad, or Aish, or Lakewood, or any of the many wonderful organizations. With their beard and hat, their kind words and teaching, their warm wishes to help and thoughts of Torah, relationships are developed and people are guided.
Yet, sometimes these people stumble. They are faced with many challenges, pressures of money, competing people in need, organizational expectations, etc.
My dear brothers and sisters, BT’s and BT’s to be, a tremendous amount of the Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law, and the Talmud, are devoted to the laws of relations, and money. Every .. single .. person .. has a yetzer hara, an evil inclination. The yetzer hara doesn’t come to the rabbi (or rebbetzin) and say, each treif (non-kosher). He says, “it’s just a moment, it’s ok to be alone with the person, what you are doing is important.” It’s not ok, it’s never ok, it leads to problems. He says, “just borrow the money, it’s for the community, it’s ok if you really don’t know if you will be able to pay it back, Hashem will help”. It’s not ok, it’s never ok, someone is going to get hurt and burned.
Please my friends, these wonderful people are, B”H, wonderful people. They have indeed devoted their life to helping people, to helping you. But they are also human, just like everyone else. This wonderful and incredibly challenging mix of a spark of G-dliness in a mundane physical body, an animal that has desires and wants to be fed. Because they give so much, it’s common to put them on a pedestal. Yet the Shulchan Aruch doesn’t say, don’t be alone with the opposite gender except if its the rabbi or rebetzen. It doesn’t say, give them a loan with no contract or signed and cosigned and agreed repayment schedule up front.
Help them stay on the pedestal. If he/she wants to do something that doesn’t seem quite right, don’t help them do the wrong thing for the right reason. Keep in mind, everyone, everyone gets challenged, and it’s often tricky and it’s often in the weak spot. The beard and yalmulkah, or shaitel and long skirt, doesn’t make one exempt.
May Hashem help us all to overcome our yetzer hara, and may we all help each other!