Article

Sometimes, the best way to deal with negative feelings, is not to deal with them at all. The best way to fight emotions that bolster despair is to engage in actions that bolster hope. The best remedy for a heart that feels threatened by darkness, is a Mitzvah, a positive deed, that reassures it with a Divine light.

Rabbi Allouche

One man stood aside. 

Aharon, the brother of Moses, was reluctant to participate in the inauguration of the Tabernacle in the desert. The Midrash reveals that he felt guilty for his role in the sin of the Golden Calf a year or so earlier, and thus unworthy to take part in the festivities.

Upon witnessing Aharon’s silence, Moses summons Aharon and commanded him to just “come near the altar and bring the offerings.” Not a word of comfort is said to soothe his brother’s feelings and assuage his fears. Rather than focus on emotions, Moses focuses on action. “Bring the offerings,” he tells Aharon. That’s it.

But how could Moses react so coldly to his own brother? Why this apparent insensitivity to his own flesh and blood?

The answer shares a powerful idea: Moses told his brother to “bring the offerings,” because, sometimes, the best way to deal with negative feelings, is not to deal with them at all. The best way to fight emotions that bolster despair is to engage in actions that bolster hope. The best remedy for a heart that feels threatened by darkness, is a Mitzvah, a positive deed, that reassures it with a Divine light.

So Moses tells Aharon to just act and “bring the offerings,” and put his feelings aside. Sure enough, Aharon’s anxiety vanishes and his confidence is regained. And from that point on, Aharon never looks back. Throughout the many years that followed, Aharon conducted his many duties as the High Priest of his nation, with unwavering resolve, and lasting success.

The lesson is poignantly clear: at the end of the day, our actions, not our feelings, define who we are. We may experience all sorts of moods, but at the end of the day, it is a person’s deeds that mold his life. A smile, a helping hand, a generous act can mold us and our lives infinitely more than the emotions of our hearts. In the words of Victor Hugo, the 19th Century French poet: “Our acts make or mar us – we are the children of our own deeds.”

This applies to our Jewish lives too. For how many of us deprive ourselves of the gift of a mitzvah, just because we are scared? How many of us are reluctant to get involved, just because we are intimidated? How many of us are hesitant to move forward in our spiritual journey, with study, prayer, or a good deed, just because we are not “feeling it”?

But whatever our mood is – let us just “bring an offering to G-d” and do good. Fulfill a Mitzvah. Reach out to a friend. Light Shabbat candles today and every Friday before Shabbat. Put on Tefilin. Affix a Mezuzah. Visit the sick. Come to CBT for a prayer service, a class, or any of our programs. Make that call to an estranged family member. Give your child the gift of undivided time and attention. Buy your spouse a gift. And make those actions an inseparable part of your daily or weekly life. 

In the words of Nike, “just do it.” I promise, you won’t regret it.