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The Systems of the Jewish Year

Making The Heart Decisions

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

The children of Korach were in a dilemma.

They were sitting with their father when Moshe and his entourage walked by. Who could not stand up for Moshe?

On the other hand, they knew how their father Korach felt toward Moshe. They knew if they stood up for the leader of the Jewish people their father Korach would be hurt. They understood that honoring Moshe was dishonoring their father. Should children be disloyal to their father? In their head, they heard Moshe’s own voice saying in the name of G-d, “Kabed es Avicho!” Honor your father! (Yalkut 4:2)

Can you feel the tension? Can you imagine the stress? They had no time for brainstorming meetings or consultations. They had no time to look it up and no time to meditate. What should they do? What would you do?

Follow your heart! At that moment their hearts screamed out, Stand Up! The leader of the Jewish people is passing! Generations later King David commented (Tehilim 45): “Their hearts led them the right way.”

When your brain fails you and when your conscience confuses you, follow your heart! Your heart is probably telling the truth.

When Pinchos found the courage to stop the plague that was attacking Israel, he was led by his heart.

When Nachshon ben Aminodov walked into a sea and made it part for the Jewish people, he followed his heart.

When Jews through the generations gave up their lives rather than convert, they followed their heart.

When communities returned to Israel during the time of Ezra, they followed their heart. When we pick up our families and belongings and make Aliya, we are following our heart. Your heart tells a truth.

“I made man straight but he makes complicated calculations” (Tehilim). It’s great to think, to talk, to discuss, to opine and to criticize. But ultimately your heart says, ‘Do the right thing!’

I often think about crying. Babies always cry. Children cry easily but as we mature we don’t cry, and if we do we feel embarrassed. We excuse ourselves to those around us for being too emotional.

Yet Chazal attribute holiness to tears. We are taught that we should cry over the destruction of the Beis HaMikdosh, over innocent victims of terror, over the shame of Torah. When we pray we should pray with tears. Perhaps our eyes need to be washed by our tears once in a while, so that we can see Life with a clearer view again.
Sometimes our heart tells us to cry, but as our emotions travel through our cognitive system they are filtered by our brain. Feelings become opinions. Anguish becomes negativity, love becomes comfort. That is the way we are wired! But sometimes we can’t let our minds get in the way of our hearts. Sometimes we have to override our minds and feel. We can’t be made of stone! We need to be able to cry - and if we shed a tear, it comes straight from our heart and is holy.

So the children of Korach followed their heart. The Hebrew word for this is Teshuvah. Return to your heart!

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