How Do You Think?

By: Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui


Once Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber was walking with his son, Rabbi Yoseph Yitzchak in the city of Rostov Russia, and he was teaching him a very deep concept in mysticism. The son was so deep in thought, he kept on walking, even while his father stopped for a moment. Only after being called by his name, he became aware and walked back to where his father was standing.

The father then told his son. “The difference between a human – rational mind and a G-dly mind is that, a regular human mind, starts first by applying itself, and then concludes and comes to the realization that it is not humanly possible to understand everything and then turns to faith. While a G-dly mind begins with faith, and then, to personally connect, this leads to understanding.”

This story took place in front of a building, which later on, became the headquarters for the feared GPU. Years later, Rabbi Yoseph Yitzchok was incarcerated for teaching Judaism and was sentenced to death. In the course of his interrogation in this building, he told his interrogators what he heard from his father at that place, years earlier.

Rabbi Yoseph Yitzchok now understood, why his father, told him those words of strength, at precisely this spot. Let’s explain.

Both the G-dly, and rational approach, includes both faith and normal rational thinking. In the former, faith leads to the rational and personal connection, and in the latter, rational thinking leads to faith. So how different is really one approach versus the other?

The use of a rational mind, fits into the category and classification of the “created.” Things we use in this world. While the G-dly mind approach, where faith is the starting point, this is a connection to a force higher than the created, and is therefore in the category of “creator.” This is the ultimate, expected of each person, “and you are connected to G-d your G-d – you are all alive eternally.”

When a person approaches matters, whatever it may be in his life, and his first approach is logical, and only afterwards when he recognizes the limitations of his mind he turns to another faculty inside, we call faith. Since the foundation and first step is his own mind, and this is what gives birth to his faith, his faith will be limited to the logic, which gives birth to this faith.

In addition, since logic can always be argued, the moment anyone comes up with an argument to his logic, out goes the faith. Since the faith is an outgrowth of his logic, it will always be limited and dependent on the parameters and strength of his logic.

However, when our first approach to life, or to whatever challenge we are facing, is an unwavering faith in G-d who made the world and all the circumstances I am facing. I know in a convincing fashion, beyond rational thinking, that He certainly has a good and positive purpose for everything He does, and gave me the strength to withstand whatever. This faith is purely unlimited. To begin with, it supersedes logic and rational thinking. The thinking that comes afterwards, is then infused with this faith and is incomparably stronger than the first way.

This is why Rabbi Yoseph Yitzchok repeated this concept to his interrogators. He wanted them to know, they were dealing with someone who is infused in his logic by a supra-rational faith. Just like it is impossible to imprison G-d and spirituality, G-d is bigger than any force here in this world, so too, sentencing him would not accomplish their goal of stopping the spread of Judaism in Russia at that time.


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