Act Now, Joy Follows

Rebbetzin Gina Goldstein


Then he [Moses] took the book of the Covenant and read it aloud to the People. And they said, “All that G-d has spoken, we will do and we will understand!”

(Exodus 24:7)

וַיִּקַּח סֵפֶר הַבְּרִית וַיִּקְרָא בְּאָזְנֵי הָעָם וַיֹּאמְרוּ כֹּל אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר ה' נַעֲשֶׂה וְנִשְׁמָע.

(שמות כד:ז)

The Jews who received the Torah at Mount Sinai accepted it with the famous words: "Na'aseh ve'Nishma" – "we will do and we will understand".1 They agreed to observe and keep all of the mitzvos even before they understood them! In fact, they committed to all it entails to be a Jew before they could consider and integrate all the practical knowledge of the Torah's details and laws. This is surprising because our logical mind reasonably assumes that acceptance of the Torah and all its laws would come after being motivated and excited by some degree of knowledge and understanding. But surprisingly, at Mt Sinai, we readily accepted and agreed to all the "hard work" of being a Jew, prior to any insight or inspiration. The statement "we will do and we will understand" exemplifies tremendous greatness and we merited to receive extraordinary G-dly rewards for it. Why?

There is a profound psychological truth that hard work plus success precedes passion and joy and not the other way around! Contemporary research confirms that we cannot wait until we are excited and inspired before we commit to and accomplish something good, because we may never become compelled to do it! Success and passion result from good old-fashioned hard work, planning and commitment. This may be a little less of a dramatic approach, but it's more emotionally honest and psychologically healthy.

This truth underlies much of Torah lifestyle and worldview. Torah philosophy teaches that acts of kindness and generosity nurture relationships and foster love. Because when you invest time and effort in someone or something, you will come to deeply love and passionately care about them.

In Sefer Bereishis we see that when Isaac married Rebecca, he "brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and he married Rebecca, and she became his wife, and then he loved her".2

Amazingly, his love and joy, it seems, came after his marriage with her, after his act of commitment to her, and not the other way around!

Contemporary research on successful habits reveals that we cannot wait until we are "in the mood" to do something important. Because we may never feel emotionally inspired to do it! Rather we should decide, make plans, commit, take action, invest time, money, energy and get involved! Later, with success and progress the passion, energy, and enthusiasm builds.

The central mitzvah of Shavuot night is to learn Torah. Do not be discouraged if you don't feel passionate or excited to do so! Do not wait until you're "in the mood". Do not hesitate if your understanding of Torah is limited or if the task seems daunting. Just decide to do it, plan, commit, take action, invest time, energy and money in this mitzvah and in the process you will achieve, progress and accomplish success. The passion, energy, inspiration and excitement will follow and with Hashem's help, this beautifully integrated virtuous cycle, will reinforce itself to motivate and deepen our commitment to Judaism as well as our knowledge and passion for Torah wisdom.

Exodus 24:7

Genesis 4:67

©2019 by The Office of The Chief Rabbi