Baruch Hashem I have immensely gained from the shiurim of the Rav about fixing the middos, especially the shiurim about the element of fire.
In the shiur about “water-of-fire-of-fire” the Rav said that the way to repair the nature of running after taste and pleasure is mainly based on accepting a responsibility, and that included in this is the yoke of Torah and the yoke of mitzvos and the yoke of accepting the kingdom of Heaven.
In the house I grew up in, it was not an atmosphere of spiritual growth and searching for truth. But, Baruch Hashem, at the age of 14, I felt aspirations to become a truly growing person, especially because I felt jealous of others my age who where growing. Since then I have grown, to some extent, in Torah, yiras shomayim, and middos. For many years I was imaginative, but, Baruch Hashem, I succeeded for the most part in leaving behind my imagination, not perfectly, but at a level which was recognizable on me. As the years went on, I developed an enjoyment for learning Torah and avodas Hashem, but as for the matter of “accepting the yoke”, I never really began it. This was because my entire growth came about through finding enjoyment in what I was doing, and also, because I received honor from my peers, my Rebbeim, and my Rosh Yeshivah. I am aware of the fact that I am lacking in the area of kabalos ol (accepting the yoke), both with regards to my obligation to learn Torah as well all my other obligations.
Maybe I am in the category of a baal teshuvah, but I am not clear about this, because I still grew up in a home that is considered “frum” (Torah observant), though I am not sure if it was really frum, but that is at least how it appeared to the external eye. I feel very much that my main weakness stems from a lack of kaballas ol, especially because I feel an opposition and rebellion in my soul towards the very idea of kaballas ol. This probably comes from my childish immaturity which I still haven’t completely come out of, since I did not grow up in a home of a true chinuch.
Therefore I would like to know of some advice on how I can do chinuch with myself to accept the yoke of Torah, mitzvos, and the kingdom of Heaven. Should I take the path which the Rav has explained about in Getting To Know Your Soul, regarding the balance between the powers of pleasure and strength in the soul? Or should my path be as Rav Chatzkel says in sefer Ohr Yechezkel vol. 7, that a person should get used to saying verbally, “I hereby accept upon myself the yoke of Torah”? I think that if I will do this, it will just be a lip service, which is external. Therefore I am asking the Rav’s advice on this.
AnswerIt is possible for you to act as it is written in Getting To Know Your Soul, and you can combine this with a verbal statement of “I am hereby accepting upon myself…[the yoke of Torahmitzvosmalchus shomayim]”, but you should also recognize that it is a mere verbal expression which is at your current spiritual level, and it is not the total level of accepting the yoke. It is proper to add to this some small kind of action of accepting the yoke [of Torah and mitzvos].