My setup here is fishy




My setup here is fishy

Dear Hashem,

I just had a very troubling discussion with my Rav.

Troubling in that it made me feel that I am trying to force Your hand in my life – and that I may be setting myself up for a downturn by taking on acts of devotion tied to the manifestation of certain things in my life.

He said my set up here is fishy.

That it’s not in accordance with all the Torah he has learned and the sages whose ways he has witnessed.


Now, he did start off the conversation with a bunch of reinforcing complements about my recent growth and how proud he was of me, etc.. But I’m troubled because my Rav said I’m doing something flawed. And my gut response was to be defensive and push him away and to be upset with him and think he is wrong and doesn’t really understand what I’m doing here.

The truth is I know he wants the best for me at least as much as I want it for myself.

But isn’t it OK to focus so intently on something that we are striving for in order to manifest a goal? To search out and edit aspects of our lifestyle which may be blocking an outcome in the name of clearing a path to ignite a desired result. Isn’t that a successful equation?

How do we align spiritually for something we so hope to accomplish in our life?

What about the Kabbalistic principal of building the requisite desire to achieve an objective and through restriction and exertion drawing in the desired light?

I started this daily hitbodidut commitment because I wanted something. So the question is, would I be this focused and consistent and connected even if I knew I wasn’t going to get what I was asking for?

It’s like a misbehaving child when we take away her toy will produce the most sincere sounding apologies, saying anything to get that toy back – but if she knew that she wasn’t getting that toy back she would still be complaining in her room. So her words are not really sincere because they are tied to an outcome which may or may not occur.

So what am I broadcasting to You here? Under these circumstances, Is it really in my best interest to give me what I am praying for? Or will that just cool me off and pull me back further from the yearning and connection I’m experiencing now?

I’m realizing that I need to not be attached to the outcome.

That the highest level, which I am striving for, is to not do things for the reward or even for the world to come but to simply do things because all I want is to connect to You. And just when I reach this level then giving me what I am praying for no longer will harm me.

I have to first let go, do my work and let You do Your work, and if it is Your will, then it will come. And if it is not Your will, so be it.

My lesson?

Serve Hashem for the sake of serving Him because that’s my purpose here. That’s the path to real joy. Serve Hashem without any agenda or fishy deals.

Sure, pray for things, but don’t commingle material demands and expectations with service – it takes the sincerity away. It takes the higher levels of why I’m doing what I’m doing away.

Growth that’s dependent on something is not real growth – only growth that’s in the name of heaven is real growth. Because if what you are depending on doesn’t materialize than what happens to your growth?

Fishy because you put your fate in the hands of a desired outcome – something other than Hashem’s will alone. You can’t force Hashem’s hand. Blessing will come when you are aligned, period. It will come in the form that Hashem chooses. Expectations and entitlements only detract from humility and gratitude.

I can still want and pray for what I want and pray for. But the approach should be checked – it should be kosher – listening to the wisdoms of our guides can seem painful at first. The pain comes from their truth. And the truth burns like fire. Best to singe ourselves now to avoid the fishy fires to come.




My setup here is fishy

8 thoughts on “My setup here is fishy

  1. Ramzor says:

    Thank you for sharing what I interpret to be the challenge between doing something out of true love and belief versus doing something for the sake of getting something else in return. That is not to say that these concepts or your end result is mutually exclusive or that one somehow sullies the other. It simply can be a case of being selfishly altruistic.


  2. חיצוניות מתעורר את הפנימיות External actions “wake up” the Internal intentions.

    While it is definitely best not to serve HASHEM with a specific materialistic outcome in mind given the potential dangers you mentioned are certainly a concern, at the same time to serve HASHEM with acts of growth only when you feel your acts are on the highest level of pure altruism is also a potential recipe for a lifetime of stagnancy with regards to spiritual growth. When Harav Avigdor Miller ZT’L was asked if one should keep Shabbos if their only reason for doing so was its reward, he replied, whatever it takes to DO when it comes to Mitzvos …DO and what started off to not be Lishmah will transform over time into Lishmah as a result of the consistant action. We must understand that we are human, and the desire to be on the highest levels of altruism in service of HASHEM is in and of itself VERY GREAT in the eyes our CREATOR. While one should make all efforts possible to try and reinforce that whatever HASHEM decides for us in the end is of course BEST, at the same time PLEASE DO NOT STOP SPEAKING TO HASHEM IN PRIVATE CONVERSATION as one thing is for certain, more than HASHEM wants our altruism HE wants to hear from us and have a relationship! In fact, talk to HASHEM about the struggle with altruism in your service to HIM and beseech HIM in HIS ultimate never ending kindness to Bless you with the merit of reaching those higher levels you so very much desire. Whether I end up being 100% lishmah or not is a level only HASHEM can grant me but the efforts to get there are my own to accompllsh! Effort is the main Avodah not Results, and as we see that speaks to both not tying our efforts to the results as well as not stopping our efforts due to the fear of our desired results not materializing.

    Ashrecha v’Tov Lach on your efforts they are truly extremely inspiring! One thing I can say with certainly – the thought processes and struggles endured in the pursuit of what is right in the name of desire to properly get closer to HASHEM YISBORACH are those that are ever so precious to our CREATOR and are quite ltierally Holy of Holies! B’ezaras HASHEM YISBORACH as a result they will merit as Chazal teach that when one comes to purify himself he is helped from Heaven!

    B’rachah V’Hatzkacha


  3. Rob says:

    Etan, I love how your inner monologue becomes an external dialogue that compels your readers. I love how you share your thoughts in a way that shows your innate human limitations, and how you come to surpass them through will, desire, and spiritual yearning.

    As the poster child for situational faith, this post hits home and reminds me to tune in more and connect to Hashem without expectation. The reward is the act itself.


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