Suffering From Perfectionism In Kiruv & In Learning [#14381]

August 11, 2021


I love to help others and I think about others all the time. I especially want to do kiruv. I can’t be calm and serene as I am learning and getting closer to Hashem that there are Jews out there who are so far from Hashem and who haven’t tasted truth. I have started to become involved in a kiruv organization and I saw many results Baruch Hashem from my work with others. But I keep thinking about the children who don’t have religious education. Although we have succeeded in getting children a religious education in Torah schools, I do not feel that we are succeeding, because there are still more children and young boys who are still irreligious and eats my heart out. And then I hear crazy stories of how irreligious Jews are getting trapped into intermarriage, and I think about it so much that I become depressed from it and it affects the way I am at home with my family. Do I need to stop being involved in kiruv until I have stabilized my emotions more? Or should I give no rest on kiruv because there are souls who are going lost? And if I should continue, how can I deal with my strong emotions that make me so depressed?
Also, I want to know all of Shas and all of Shulchan Aruch. I also want to be a shochet and a mohel, someone who fears Hashem, and I want to know a lot about the soul, and to know Kaballah. I want to be perfect at everything. When I learn any sugya of Gemara I want to understand the entire matter of what I am learning about, not just the words in front of me, because there are at least 19 halachos that hinge on the matter being learned about in the sugya and I feel that I must know them in order to know what I am learning. This takes me a lot of time and then I can’t focus. Then I can’t find myself in learning and I lose my drive. I also feel like I haven’t really gotten anywhere in all of my learning until now, and I haven’t become totally clear in all that I learned, I just have notes that are incomplete. When I begin to learn a new topic I try to write a sefer on the topic, and when I learn I need to know the entire encompassing view of the matter, all the 4 parts of Torah (simple and hidden meanings) of what I am learning, which are all of equal interest to me. There is no end to how much I want to know all of the Torah and I can’t see myself being otherwise. But how can I do this all properly?


This is a subtle matter. There is a Creator Who can do anything, and there is the human being, who is limited. There is also a spark of the Creator within the created being, and therefore there is a spark in a person which wants to “do everything”. This is also called our desire to go higher, ratzu, advancing. But we also have our ‘default’ mode, shov, returning to our normal level. A person has to recognize that he is a created being, which is limited by very definition. This is the depth of the power of humility: Recognizing that we are limited, and that we are not limitless and infinite. After your mind comes to peace with this, you then need to deeply clarify that you as a human being are not responsible for bringing the world to its purpose. You are no responsible for results. You only have the responsibility of doing what you can, according to what Hashem wants from you. The results are not your responsibility. This perspective which help you do what Hashem wants you to do, as opposed to looking for results that are perfect. Even more so, one has to know his capabilities, how much he can do and the quality of what he can or can’t do, and then he should determine how much he needs to do, and what kind of work he can do, and how he can progress according to his unique capabilities and to do what he is meant to do (besides for clarifying what the halachah entails of him).
When it comes to learning, one should try to understand what he is learning according to his capabilities, but with the understanding that the Torah is longer than the land and wider than all of the seas, and it is impossible to get to the end of the Torah, whether in quantity or in quality, for the Torah is so vastly deep that no one can get to all of its depth. One should clarify each thing he learns about according to his level, to know what he is clear about and what he is not clear about. The very recognition that we are learning an endless wisdom is already a way to gain the humility of Moshe, and changes one’s perspective about learning, so that he has the proper perspective. It is about learning one’s personal share in the Torah – “And give us our portion in Your Torah.”