The Problem of Scatteredness

Rav Yair Drayfus • 2018

Scatteredness, which includes fragmentation of the self as well as a lack of energy, is particularly characteristic of people in our age.

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I’d like to discuss the problem of scatteredness. This problem, which includes within it the fragmentation of the self as well as a lack of energy, is particularly characteristic of people in our age and time(?). These people has nothingwhich they are passionate about with all their soul and energies, something for which they would sacrifice everything, something over which they would refuse to yield for any price. The modern philosopher Soren Kierkegaard wrote that the problem of modern man is a lack of desire; “Our age is essentially one of understanding and reflection, without passion, momentarily bursting into enthusiasm and shrewdly relapsing into repose.”

The sacrifice of passion in exchange for overly analytical thinking expresses the crisis of the modern era, and it was for this reason that Rebbe Nachman sought to arouse desire and to figure out how to steer it towards the service of God. He searched for a divine service which would be done with passion. This passion comes from the unification of all of the disparate parts of the soul due to the existence of a strong and clear purpose where all of the forces of the soul, both physical and emotional, would unite in order to bring about its fulfillment. In this understanding, the raising up of (the sefira of) Malchut to the (sefira of) Gevurah, refers to finding fire and passion.

What does this mean for us? Setting a goal comes from a decisive action, which is real and practical, and not from capricious inconsistency. The randomness which accompanies our lives, where we sometimes act this way and then another way, going with the flow, is not problematic due to a lack of positive results, but rather because it expresses a personal flaw. Erratic incidents cannot be untainted and pure. The goal is the ideal, the light by which we walk. Not in order to anchor myself because that lacks value, but rather to put me on the proper path.

Additionally, there must be constancy. It is said in the name of the Chazon Ish that one who learns without constancy produces Torah which is flawed. This is true in all parts of life. Strong spirit and a settled mind are the necessary conditions for enduring spiritual service. Bearing the yoke of heaven is an act of taking responsibility and  (one cannot) do this for another.

Raising (the sefira of) Malchut to its source, which is Gevurah, means to enliven desire, which is a powerful force in one’s life. Overcoming one’s minor inclination (Yetzer Katan) which breaks the person and turns his life into dull greyness, is done only by this elevation through  the greater inclination (Yetzer Gadol) and the desire which arouses a person to do good, to the degree they lead to passion and to positive attachment.

ישיבת שיח יצחק גבעת הדגן - אפרת, מיקוד: 90435