Hi Rabbi Brody!
I have everything. A great family who loves me, mentors and Torah role models, a top notch grad school that I will hopefully graduate from in a little over a year, and hopes for a great future. I love Hashem. But I'm constantly testing Him, testing his patience and mercy. I have some struggles emotionally but I do not believe that this excuses my rebellious behavior. I don't go around rebelling in public, but I often do things against Hashem's will in private. Well sometimes in public too, if you count modesty infractions. (I'm female). Mostly it doesn't bother me so much, but sometimes I feel overwhelmed by it.
Sometimes a sin is actually hard to commit because of the shame I feel while doing it. To give an example that's not typical for me but has happened on occasion, it's like eating non-kosher food (or food i have doubts about) and every bite is painful but I keep eating it. Like you wrote to the rapper, it's like my soul is in jail. For the most part I think I'm okay but sometimes I feel anxious or guilty and for some reason that sparks feelings of rebellion.
I want Hashem's love and acceptance and forgiveness, but I am so spiritually immature that I don't even know what questions to be asking you. So please, can you help me like you helped the rapper? Can you show me what questions are hidden in my email and help set me straight? Be as harsh as you need to be. I hope this is okay for me to write to you. May you have an amazing, wonderfully blessed new year, for you and your family and everyone you love and care about.
Yours always, Frummie Rebelette
Thanks so much for your letter. First of all, don’t persecute yourself. The fact that you are taking stock in yourself before Rosh Hashana and taking the time to write me shows that your spiritual inner spark still burns bright. The Yetzer Hara – the Evil Inclination – is unbelievably strong nowadays, and it’s bullying your delicate little neshamal’e (soul). We have to give the soul the tools it needs to fight back, and it can.
In effect, you are asking me the following questions:
1. Why am I so rebellious when I was born into an observant home?
2. Why do I deliberately look for rebellious cheap thrills (which in the end, I don’t enjoy anyway) When deep down inside I love Hashem?
3. Why am I insensitive to my own infractions?
4. Why do I keep testing Hashem?
5. When I’m anxious or feeling guilty, I should be doing teshuva; why do I just want to rebel instead?
Now, with Hashem’s help, let’s answer your questions one by one.
Answer to Question 1: Despite the fact that you were born into an observant home, you feel rebellious because you never learned emuna and you never learned to get to know Hashem. Many observant young people never learned the Rambam’s 13 principles of faith and don’t even know what we Jews believe in. For example, if I were your loving uncle and you came to my home every Shabbat, and if you loved your aunt’s cooking and your uncle’s stories at the Shabbat table, would you revolt against me? In a million years no! Why? Because you know me and you look forward to spending Shabbat with me; the same goes for Hashem. If you really knew Him and looked forward to spending time every day with Him, you’d never rebel. The Garden of Emuna will much further elaborate on the point. I suggest you read it, as well as In Forest Fields.
Answer to Question 2: You think you love Hashem, but that’s not real love. If you were a soldier in battle, you’d certainly love a comrade who saved your life; Hashem does that for you every second of the day. If you were aware of the Divine Providence in your life, and you knew that Hashem was personally making your heart beat and your lungs breathe, you’d never rebel or look for cheap thrills. If you feel that Hashem is with you, you’d be mortified to wear a low-cut blouse, to flirt with a boy, or to even walk in a non-kosher establishment. People who don’t have genuine emuna think that Hashem is somewhere up in the sky but not with them. Strengthening emuna and an hour a day of personal prayer will solve this problem. Personal prayer enables the soul to feel Hashem’s immediate presence, right there with you.
Answer to Question 3: You are so insensitive to your own infractions because you are not fully and internally aware that you’re The King’s Daughter (I highly recommend that you listen to our CD of that name). The King’s daughter doesn’t prance around like some cheap girl on a street corner. The more you develop awareness of who you are, the more sensitive you’ll be to your infractions.
Answer to Question 4: You keep testing Hashem because you want to be reassured that He loves you unconditionally. I promise you that He does – Hashem Loves You; listen to the CD by that name too, and you won’t feel the need to keep testing Hashem.
Answer to Question 5: Instead of making teshuva when you feel anxious or guilty, you rebel; that’s the Yetzer’s self-destruct mode, when he tricks a person into doing the exact opposite of what they should be doing. For you, it’s rebellion; for others, it’s alcohol, drugs, or forbidden sex. Fight back! Be strong and courageous, and once again, know that Hashem is waiting for you with open arms. Send the lying Yetzer for a jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, put a smile on your face, and get to work. There’s still time before Rosh Hashana, and you – as the King’s favorite daughter and not as a frummie rebel – should have a front row seat at the King’s coronation on Rosh Hashana. Don’t forget – you’re a marvelous young lady.
Blessings for an inscription in the Book of Long and Happy Life, LB
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