Your Seven Emotions
a Meaningful Life with Simon Jacobson
Radio Show Transcript - April 23, 2000
Rabbi Simon Jacobson: I want to wish
all our listeners a happy Passover, the festival of freedom
and liberation. I wish us all the power and ability in this
window of opportunity to access our own inner souls, which
provides the strength to liberate ourselves. When you become
enslaved by the material oppression of lifethe need
for instant gratification and the other forces that hold
us hostagethe only respite and true freedom is when
we access our inner souls.
I want to thank those of you who called in
last week for participating in a very productive show. The
calls were very different, but they showed that both in
little and big ways, we face questions that affect our sense
of freedom and that even at a most personal level, freedom
and truth are intimately connected.
Last week I discussed the general approach
to emotions. Clearly, emotions are a very powerful and positive
force in our lives. Its what makes life life. Experience,
passion, the driving forces and ups and downs of our lives
are what make life so beautiful and important.
At the same time, emotions have the emotional
trap of almost obsessive subjectivity, where we become blinded,
and I cited the verse that bias and subjectivity can
blind the eyes of the wise and distort the tongue of the
tzaddik (a great righteous person). What I
addressed primarily last week were two things: The first
point was that knowledge is freedom; that its key
to open up our minds to wider and broader perspectives if
one is to ever find some type of emotional freedom. If not,
we become locked in our own patterns, in a rut, in habits
that we usually pick up from childhood and on.
The second point was that in order to access
that type of objectivity without compromising the emotional
tapestry of our lives, its also important to have
a mentor, an objective friend, someone whos sensitive
whom you can honestly share your thoughts and feelings with,
someone you trust, because he or she can be a sounding board
that helps you see yourself in a different light.
In this same spirit of the season of freedom
and liberation, Id like to address tonight how one
actually looks and examines ones emotions, because
the issue here is not to become an objective person entirely.
Were not trying to become computers here. A brain
is a beautiful and powerful thing, but the brain without
a heart, without an emotional life, is frankly not only
dry, its dead.
One of the Chassidic Rebbes once said that
there is nothing as cold and as dead as a mind. So a mind
is a good analyzer, a good analytical tool that processes
information, but theres an analogy about the mind
and the heart that says the mind is like the captain of
the ship, but the ship that goes through the ocean is your
What is it to be a captain if you cant
travel? Emotions are the travel and the journey were
on. But the captain of the ship needs to be there to help
us navigate and see our way to focus, to direct, to channel
our emotional experiences.
So tonight Id like to discuss particular
emotions, the spectrum of emotional experiences that we
have. Its interesting that in the Kabbalah, Jewish
mysticism, there is a map of the emotions. Its a map
that divides the emotions into seven categories, seven particular
attributes and faculties. We have many emotions but they
become one big jumble if we do not distinguish between one
emotion and the next.
The reason Im doing this this week is
that we are in the Festival of Freedom, Passover, and in
Jewish tradition there is a custom, a mitzvah actually,
thats called the Counting of the Omer.
The Counting of the Omer is a custom that was done when
the Jews left Egypt. Following the Exodus from Egypt during
this period of time 3,312 years ago, they counted the days
in anticipation of receiving the mandate, the Torah that
they would receive 50 days later.
They counted 49 days. The Counting of the
Omer is a commandment in the Torah: Following a special
offering that was brought to the Holy Temple every year,
on the second day of Passover, the verse in Leviticus says,
You shall count from the day that you brought the
omer as a wave offering, which was brought
on the second day of Passover. Following that they counted
for 49 days.
Now the number 49 is significant because its
seven times seven. Seven weeks with seven days in each week.
As we all know, 7 x 7=49. Each week corresponds to one particular
emotional attribute. So these 49 days were perhaps the original
49-Step Program before the Step Programs were instituted
in our generation. They were a refinement process that the
people then used as a stepping stone to analyze and inspect
and review their emotional lives.
To do so effectively, particularly when youre
dealing with subjectivity, requires a meticulous approach
where you take each emotion, look at it, and examine it.
They did this for seven weeks. Each week was dedicated to
one of these seven emotions, and within each of these seven
emotions, each one breaks down further into another seven
(another 7 x 7=49).
I created a little workbook called, The
Spiritual Guide to the Counting of the Omer, which describes
exactly what goes on during these 49 days, and how to use
it in a personal way. Ill give more information on
how to get it later on. The book outlines the 49 steps with
an exercise for each day.
What were going to do now is map out
the emotional spectrum of our lives. This may be the first
time some of you actually hear a map of what your emotions
look like. Remember, you cant look in the mirror to
see your emotions. You cant go to a doctor. Your emotions
are invisible. So what do our emotions look like? Are they
white, or blue, or black, or are they tall or short? How
do we define our emotions? Here is a map that defines our
emotions in seven different categories.
Before we begin, lets go to Louise on
Caller: A good holiday to you. I have
two questions. First, the Ashkenazim and the Sephardim seem
to have different requirements and prohibitions about foods
to be eaten during Passover and I wondered how that comes
about. Correct me if Im wrong, I think that Sephardim
are permitted to eat things like rice and peas and Ashkenazim
are not. Im puzzled. If these are holy requirements,
Biblical requirements, why do they differ from one group
to the other? Thats my first question.
Jacobson: Thank you for your question.
Im trying to discuss a particular topic, so I hope
you dont mind Louise if Im brief and try to
connect it in some way to the topic of emotions.
Louises question, for those of you who
may not fully follow, is that on Passover theres a
prohibition against eating anything leavened, bread and
bread products, actually anything made of grain or barley
or oats, and so on. Theres also an additional custom
followed by the Ashkenazim (people who came essentially
from central Europe) that they also dont eat whats
called kitniyus. Kitniyus means things that
come from certain bean families, including rice and peasthings
similar to the grains. Thats why, at a certain point
in history, they decided to include these foods in the prohibition,
in order not to create confusion. There was a problem with
people confusing kitniyus with grains, and so in
order to avoid that problem, they also prohibited that.
In Sephardic countries (Sephardim are Jews
who came either from Spain or the countries controlled by
the Moors, and the Arab countries including Yemen, Saudi
Arabia, Egypt, and so on), as it is with other customs,
that was not an issue. Either it was not an issue because
people never confused the two, or because beans didnt
grow there, or whatever it was, so the Sephardim never accepted
upon themselves that prohibition. The diversity within Judaism
is quite beautifulyou can have two different groups,
depending on where they lived, and even though Judaism does
have its absolute prohibitions, there are areas where there
is room for diversity. Thats my brief answer to you.
But thank you for the call.
How to connect beans with emotions I dont
know, but lets go back to my topic about the seven
Jewish mysticism, the Kaballah, discusses
the human psyche, by explaining that a human being is more
than just a body. We have a spirit, and each of us has a
unique personality. Yet there are common denominators, which
connect us all, and the first common denominator is that
our conscious experience (were not discussing the
subconscious here) divides into two: the intellect and the
emotions. The intellect is the mind, and the emotions are
our emotional impulsive experiences.
The emotion that always comes to mind when
someone says emotional experiences is love,
and of course its antithesis, which is hate. Those are emotional
experiences. But the fact is, besides love there are six
other emotions that comprise our human experience according
Ill spell them out for you in Hebrew
and then translate them into English. The first of the seven
is love, chessed, in Hebrew. Chessed is lovingkindness,
benevolenceanything thats included within the
family of love, and the warmth and nurturing that comes
with love. Its a feeling in our hearts. Its
our first and most fundamental emotion.
The second is the alter-ego to love, which
is gevurah, and that is justice, discipline, restraint,
awe. If love is giving and flowing, theres another
emotion which is withdrawing, focusing, disciplining,
Emotion number three is tiferet. Tiferet
is translated as beauty, harmony and compassion. Its
somewhat of a synthesis of the first two, but its
beyond that: tiferet has its own power, the power
of compassion that goes far beyond love. You can have love
for those who are close to you, those whom you appreciate.
Compassion is for strangers and people who may not deserve
it: mercy, or in Hebrew and Yiddish, rachmanut.
Emotion number four is netzach. Netzach
literally means victory, but the emotion involved is endurance,
fortitude, ambition. Netzach is the driving force behind
Emotion number five is hod, and that
translates into humility, splendor, and the emotion of humility,
yielding. If the alter-ego of gevurah is chessed,
where chessed is a flowing love and gevurah
is the channeling, the measuring of it, then if netzach
is ambition and drive and fortitude, hod is humility
and yielding that balances the ambitions within us.
Yesod is number six. Yesod literally
means foundation but its an emotion called bonding.
When you bond with something its not just that youre
experiencing it, you actually bond with it.
And finally number seven is called Malchut.
Literally it means nobility and kingship, but on the emotional
spectrum, its sovereignty, leadership, the independence
of a human being, the feeling that we are sovereign, that
we have something to contribute, something unique about
These are the seven emotions as outlined in
the Kabbalah. Im sure there are parallels in other
systems, however the Kabbalistic system is very comprehensive,
and Id like to elaborate on these. The period of time
were in right now is really a time of examination.
For instance, now were in Week One, which is the week
of love. We look at how we love. Now the value of this examination
is such that it allows us to step back and be somewhat objective
about it. Now we cant be entirely objective about
our feelings, but we can examine them. There are ways of
asking yourself certain questions that can help you look
at these different dimensions within yourself and see: Are
they tempered? Do we experience them to excess? Are we lacking
in a certain area? Is there another area that requires balance?
Examining it is the first step to emotional
freedom because youre beginning to look at something
with emotional objectivity.
So after spelling out the seven emotions,
let me give you a few examples to show you how powerful
the system is in helping a person become emotionally health
and grow in the areas of personal growth and personal self-actualization.
If you asked many people the question, Do
you grow emotionally? many of us would say that we
grow intellectually. We grow perhaps financially and in
other ways. But the cliché is that once youve matured,
theres no more room for emotional growth. What you
have is what you have. Who you are is who you are.
But the truth is thats not the case.
Because of its subjective nature, its more difficult
to grow in the emotional realm than the intellectual realm
because the emotions are not about knowledge. Everyone can
understand knowledgethe more you read the more you
study the more you learn. There are subjects you may be
completely unfamiliar with, but with emotions it doesnt
seem like theres anywhere to go. Once youve
developed a certain emotional approach to things, is there
a place to grow? And the answer is definitely, because the
emotions are a reservoir of resources within us: by looking
at an emotion you can begin to see, Can I become a
more loving person? Do I love too much?
And that brings me to an example of how one
examines ones emotions. Ill use love, the one
that were focusing on in this period of time, in this
Love is an emotion that we all need. We need
to receive love and we need to give love.
One can even say it is the most powerful and the most necessary
component in life, the foundation of all human interaction.
It is both giving and receiving, and allows us to reach
beyond ourselves. In one word, its a form of transcendence.
Now, when we love, whether its our family,
friends, spouses, or whomever it is that we love, love is
not just a simple matter. We see that in the name of love
people have been hurt as well. I remember going to speak
somewhere and the host asked me, What are the top
ten favorite topics that people like to hear about?
And in my experience, traveling and communicating
to different audiences, I said, Topic number one is
always love, relationships, sexuality. The second favorite
topic is pain and suffering.
So he said to me, Those arent
two different topics; there the same thing.
He obviously saw love and pain and suffering
as two sides of the same coin, which is often the case.
You often find many people who are afraid to love because
they are afraid of being hurt. Many of us have gotten hurt
from love, we saw what kind of damage could be done in the
name of love, and we dont want to be vulnerable again,
so we protect ourselves.
So love is a very nice emotion and we all
aspire to have a very healthy love, but love also has another
side to it which is when you love, you can be hurt. Examining
love is extremely important because in a way, I would say,
love is perhaps the single most important ingredient in
our lives, and the single most important source of misery
in our lives, particularly when we cant find the love
we need or were lonely, or were hurt, or were
hurt by our parents who presumably loved usor they
did love us and didnt know how to love.
And what about ourselves when we turn to people
around us and we dont know how to love? Or we dont
know how much to give, how much not to give.
So examining this emotion called love is not
just a simple matter, like, I want to know whether I love
well or I dont love well. It requires looking into
details. Thats why the seven steps, the seven weeks
break further into seven subcategories. Within love itself
there are all seven which I mentioned. So love has
the love within love, the discipline within love, the compassion
and beauty within love, the endurance within love, the humility
and yielding in love, the bonding in love, and finally the
sovereignty in love. For love to be effective it requires
looking at all seven elements.
In other words, when you love, there are certain
things that are necessary. The first thing of course is
do you love well? Do you have the capacity to love another
person? Do you have problems with giving? Are you stingy
or selfish? Is it difficult to let someone else into your
life? Do you have room for someone else? Are you afraid
of being hurt by vulnerability?
These are questions that are addressed in
the first step of looking at the way we love. If the answer
to any of those questions is yes, I have that type of difficulty,
then you have to look at why. Why would people have difficulty
loving another? Is it because theyve been hurt? Is
it because they may be so self-contained and think no one
Thats the first thing that you need
to examine. As I mentioned earlier, to examine our emotions
also requires, first, looking into a book that may discuss
this in some objective light, and second, talking to someone
who can be objective and in some way help us see ourselves
in a different light.
Then theres the other side of love.
Lets say you are loving. Are you loving too much?
Thats where you need the second dimension, which is
called gevurah, discipline. We see that parents who
love their children too much can also harm them, because
they may spoil them. The children begin to expect everything;
they begin to have an exaggerated sense of entitlement.
So we see that love requires measure, discipline and channeling.
Look at raindrops. Rain is a benevolent gift
from heaven that allows things to grow. But if the rain
came down in buckets it would flood the field and then nothing
would grow. So a rains beauty is that it comes down
In Kabbalistic or psychological terminology,
thats called gevurah shebechessed:
that within love you need gevurah, the discipline
and channeling. If you look at the way you love, you will
often see that one of these two is usually exaggerated.
You may be loving too much without enough discipline, or
you may have too much discipline and not be loving enough.
It is a dance that requires a certain synthesis, a balance
of knowing when to give and when to stop, when to allow
it to flow and when to withdraw, without in any way undermining
one or the other.
Those are two examples of how one looks at
the emotions, particularly in this area called love. But
the same is true with all the emotions that I described.
Love also needs compassion and beauty. Its not just
that you love, but that the love comes with a certain balance,
a certain synchronicity. And love needs endurance. There
are many people who are very loving but the love doesnt
endure. Its for the moment. Theyre good at short-term
relationships. Theyre good if theres a crisis.
But endurance, to go through the difficult times, to have
the consistency thats required, is another element
of love. So some people love very well but it doesnt
endure, it doesnt stay too long. They get bored or
something else comes up.
Love requires humility. Often love is a very
selfish act. You love someone because you get something
from the person and so youre ready to give. So you
have to look at your yielding ability. Ive seen parents
who love their children so much that you can say basically
they love them to death. I dont want to say the word
death, but they can love them so much that they
dont have any yielding, they dont allow the
child to have its own independent personality and choices
to make which can be very unhealthy. You need to have the
ability to look at your own love and say, Maybe I
dont have it all right.
In the name of love, parents say, My
child has to do so and so because I love her so much, I
know better. That may not be healthy. So love needs
yielding. It needs to be able to yield and be humble in
the way we love.
Finally, theres bonding in lovenot
just to love someone but to actually bond with them so theres
a deep connection. You spend time and you share a common
And then theres sovereignty in love.
Love promotes and advances human dignity as opposed to being
demoralizing. It helps us be better people. If your love
causes someone else to be demoralized, theres a problem
with that love.
So this is a crash course for a one-week emotional
exercise which, I must admit, cant take ten minutes
the way I just described it. It requires seven days of the
week. To go through each one of these items is really a
The first day of the 49 days would be the
love within love. The second day we concentrate on the discipline
As I mentioned, I created a book called The
Spiritual Guide to the Counting of the Omer, which has
gotten a very positive reaction and I invite you to check
into it. You can contact my office at the Meaningful Life
Center to obtain this book. You can call us at 1-800-363-2646
(1-800-3MEANING) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org,
or write us at The Meaningful Life Center, Suite 303, 788
Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11213. And finally, you can
visit our website at www.meaningfullife.com.
Now, when we talk about emotions, the first
thing that comes to mind for me are my own personal experiences,
my own subjectivity. Each of us is subjective in our own
way. As I mentioned last week, if you think youre
objective, thats part of being subjective: it makes
you think youre objective.
When you look into your own experiences, the
fact is, as much we can discuss them, emotions have a hold
on us that dont allow us to see outsidelike
being in a box where you just see it your way. The thing
thats so exciting about lifeof meeting people
and being able to communicate with themis that even
though each of has our own personal pride and our own personal
investment in our choices, if you can find someone whom
you can have an intelligent interaction with, and they can
stimulate and challenge you without undermining you, it
really brings out more objectivity than we could ever allow
on our own.
One of the beautiful things about the Seder
table, which is the Passover tradition on the first
two nights of Passover, is that one of the big emphases
is on questions, encouraging children to ask questions,
inviting them to ask.
If you think about it, the questions in the
Haggadah are much more pronounced and much more tangible
and identified than the answers. You have to really
search for the answers to some of those questions that are
asked. This is true with the Four Questions
that the children ask at the table, or just in general:
many things are done during that evening in order to provoke
It struck me that on a very simple note, one
of the greatest celebrations of freedom is the ability to
ask. Just the ability to ask. Forget about the answer. The
power of being entitled and empowered and given the permission
to ask a question, to challenge, to be skeptical in a healthy
way, curious, is a real freedom, a real freedom of knowledge.
Youll always find silence in Fascist
regimes. People are silent. You cannot demonstrate. Free
expression is not allowed, and so on and so forth. That
ability, which is celebrated on Passover, is the ability
to ask a question, Shaal avicha vyageidcha,
Ask your father/parent and he or she will tell
The ability to ask the Four Questions,
is in itself freedom. Theres a statement from the
holy Sages that says, The question of a wise person
is half an answer. That doesnt mean that within
the question lies the answer, it means that the way you
formulate a questionit may take sometimes a lifetime
to find out what your question iswhen you know your
question, youre already halfway there.
So the ability to ask questions is a freedom
that is perhaps the greatest first step in any freedomthe
ability to ask and therefore to search for answers. Thats
what struck me on a personal note.
When we deal with emotionsespecially
in the area of abuse, they saythe silence is worse
than the abuse. The cover-up is worse than the crime, because
its the silencing, the invalidation, the undermining,
the shrouded secrecy of any problem in our family life or
in our personal lives. That in itself is the greatest enslavement.
Knowing that you have an illness is half the
cure. That being said, when we look at our way of dealing
with our emotions, our feelings, and so on, that ability
to ask questions, to allow yourself to ask questions, to
be engaged, is the first step to any type of freedom. Thats
why even though we may not have full answers to these questions:
Do you love properly? Do you love with too much or
too little love? by asking that you begin to challenge
yourself in a healthy way and you say, Maybe I need
to look at that. Maybe I need someone to help me look at
Well go to Benita on the air.
Caller: Hi. This was very appropriate
today. A few days ago I was shopping for Passover and I
threw my back out. I had attended the first Seder
and the second night Seder, and it was a wonderful
experience, I had a wonderful time. I got up from the second
night Seder and I couldnt move.
To make a long story short, I wound up calling
911 and ended up in the hospital with my back thrown out.
I had to go through tests and basically theres nothing
wrong except muscle spasms. I understand that its
all emotional. I just wondered what you think about the
connection between the emotions and physical pain? Im
still suffering here and I understand that theres
nothing they can do except give me muscle relaxes.
Jacobson: First of all, I want to ask
you about your own state right now. What provoked that?
Are you going through some anxiety in your life now?
Caller: I dont think so, but
I think that probably Im just normally a very tense
person and basically I react in a way where my muscles must
constrict or tense up for me to experience this pain. Everybody
was very helpful at the Sedertrying to tell
me to go to chiropractors and see a bunch of doctors, and
that just made it worse.
Jacobson: I understand. Do you have
family? People who love you, whom you love?
Caller: Yes, very much.
Jacobson: I dont mean to give
you a full interview here, but I just want to know where
youre at. Do you have children?
Caller: Yes I do. And everything is
both a source of joy and a source of stress in my
life. I cant really separate a lot of it. I have a
lot of joy and also a lot of stress.
Jacobson: I understand that if you
are sitting around the Seder table and people start
giving you their chiropractors names, it is not exactly
a source of solace.
Caller: Well I ended up in the hospital
was a Jewish doctor there who sympathized with me.
Jacobson: So answering your question,
theres no question in my mind that emotions have a
direct impact on our bodies. First of all, the spirit and
body are like two partners in ones life. Its
been proven that the body carries messages. With people
who have suffered from PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,
a trauma at young age or in war or so on, their bodies clearly
remember that. Even if the mind forgets, the body does not
forget, and a lot of tension, the knots that tie us up,
are often the result of implosion, which means it implodes
instead of explodes. Instead of an outburst, especially
if youre silenced, your body begins to tense up under
This is a normal reaction, for instance, if
youre in the street and theres something that
causes you to panic, the body becomes tense. So emotions
clearly have an impact on our body and can cause back pain,
headaches, and other pains.
The appreciation of the balance of these two
forces, the psychosomatic effects of emotional trauma or
emotional experiences, is being discovered more and more
in medicine today. But you should be aware that it also
works the other way around. Joy and pleasant things in our
lives also have a physical impact on our lives.
As a matter of fact, the Talmud says something
that was always ridiculed by skeptics, and now they see
the wisdom of it. The Talmud says that there was a man,
Aspasyanus who was a Roman emperor, and when he heard the
news that he became the new emperor, because of his joy,
he couldnt fit his shoe on his foot. His actual body
expanded somewhat because of the joy and celebration in
So you have to remember, Benita, that it also
works the other way around. Bringing love and joy into our
lives can untie knots. I dont know the particulars
in your own personal life so its hard to make a suggestion
without knowing them, but I would say that its important
to recognize your own emotional reactions, its very
appropriate that you look at your own emotional spectrum
in your life. I would highly recommend obtaining my workbookand
if you stay on the line I could put you in touch with people
here at the station who can take your number. I think it
would be good to go through this workbook because its
very helpful. More importantly, I want you to give me information
if you do explore your emotions, because I think it could
help others as well. Were trying to create some breakthroughs
here, of finding methods that emotionally can nurture us
and that have a direct, positive impact on our lives.
I think its important that you spend
positive time with people who love you, and if there are
any stressful situations that you can get away from, thats
very vital at a time when you feel this way. In addition,
I extend to you my blessings for a happy holiday, but more
importantly, a holiday that frees your body.
Look at it this way. Its a wake-up call.
Maybe your body is telling you that theres something
you need to look at. Like pain. People dont like pain.
But pain warns us that theres something coming. So
it could be that your bodys telling you that theres
something to look at here.
Caller: Do you think that its
possible that when you feel stress, to take your mind off
the stress and dwell more on the joyful part of your life?
Its very hard for me when Im in a stressful
situation to not be overwhelmed by the stress and the tension.
Jacobson: Well, if youre able
to do that, to take your mind off it and read a book or
have a conversation with someone who really stimulates you
or loves you, thats great. Obviously, any type of
medication that can help relax you, like muscle relaxants,
are definitely usefulnot to the point of over dependencebut
to create some clearing, some space in which to pursue positive
I gather from your sharing this with me that
this is new to you, that it hasnt happened in the
Caller: Its happened a little
bit, but not to this extent. Ive always been okay
within 24 hours. Its never been this bad where I had
to go to the hospital. I basically was in such excruciating
pain that I couldnt move.
Jacobson: Did you have any of the bitter
herbs on the Seder table?!
Caller: I did! And the first night
I was fine because I was really relaxed. I was reclining
as I was supposed to!
Jacobson: Well listen. Not to justify
it, but perhaps you experienced some type of true freedom
thats opened up a new channel and created this new
pain thats only a momentary thing and I wish you the
best to get beyond it. Thanks for your call.
We have Shifra on the line.
Caller: Yes Rabbi. I have your book
in my hand, The Spiritual Guide to the Counting of the
Omer, and I would like to say to the entire audience,
I gave it as a Pesach gift to four families. The children
are beginning to use it, and someone said you can use it
all year round, that its not just something for this
time of the year. Its an experience of introspection,
of learning so much about yourself, of going inside. Last
year I used it and this year Im going deeper and deeper,
as though its an unending well.
The second thing that I would like to share,
is that there are two expressions, active and pro-active,
which means for me that one reacts immediately in most situations
in contrast to becoming pro-active.
How can one transform, going from a reactive
person to a pro-active person?
Jacobson: The first thing is to take
charge of your life. Control in life comes through action.
To be pro-active means to be active. To take control requires
making a move. I believe that every one of us has human
dignity, the divine image in which we were created, empowers
us with the ability to make a move.
That move may be getting out of a situation
thats unhealthy, meeting a new friend, going to a
new class, reading a new book, whatever it takes. Its
the emotions that trap us. As I stated earlier, its
like a rut. People dont have LPs (long-playing
record) anymore, except for collectors items, but
in the olden days there was a thing called a scratch in
your record. A scratch in the record meant that the music
would start playing again and again and again. Like a groove
where you just go around like a merry-go-round.
The scratch in the record means
that even though LPs dont exist anymore, we
still have our emotional scratches, meaning, we go around
in patterns again and again and again. I hear people tell
me, I cant believe it. I was in an unhealthy
situation, I finally got out of it, and five months later
Im back into the same situation. What is this?
But thats the nature of the beastthe
emotional beast. The emotional tentacles of the landscape
called our experiences. To get out of that its critical
that we make a move. I think thats how a person becomes
pro-active. Its as simple as making a move. If you
have a friend whos unable to make a move, its
important that you try to reach that person and say to them,
Let me invite you somewhere.
Now some people are in a state of despair
where its so dark for them that theres no way
out. What to do in that situation sometimes requires patience,
sometimes you need to nudge them, and sometimes you need
to kick them in the pants, it really depends on who they
are and what kind of relationship you have with them. But
making a move is the key.
Talking about love and emotions really means
examining your life. I dont want to use a cliché,
but there is a well-known philosopher who said, An
unexamined life is not worth living. Coming from a
Torah perspective, that is essentially the whole theme of
Torah thought. Its looking at yourself and looking
at your relationship with G-d.
When Adam hides from G-d in shame after eating
from the Tree of Knowledge, G-d says to him, Where
are you? or using the biblical, Where art thou?
Now G-d knew where he was. No one can hide
from G-d. Why would G-d ask, Where are you?
G-d was saying, I dont recognize youbecause
you dont recognize yourself. I dont see you.
You can be sitting near someone and the person
spaces out. You see them physically but you dont know
where they are, where their mind is, what their focus is.
The key is to examine your life. Where are you headed? What
are your objectives? What is your personal mission statement?
Practical things that force you to take a look at yourself
and not just go through the motions.
Thoreau writes, Most people live
a life of quiet desperation. Are we ready to just
resign ourselves to just being an observer in life? To do
damage control? To do the least and play it safe?
Life is life. The key is to be able to look
at life and embrace it. To celebrate it. You wake up in
the morning and say, Im really excited about
this life. Im not looking over my shoulder all the
time wondering whos going to hit me next, or where
the next curve ball will come from.
I think thats called pro-active. But
its not good to criticize people who arent pro-active.
Often its the result of fear, which is another emotion,
an unhealthy emotion, that paralyzes us and doesnt
allow us to look at ourselves.
So thats my answer to Shifras
question but also the general theme of this show.
Now emotions arent exactly fun because
they can be quite wrenching and quite powerful, as we all
know times that our emotional lives can be a wreck. You
rarely hear someone say, My emotional life is just
great. Because emotions by nature are complex. They
can be ambiguous, paradoxical. You can love and also be
in pain at the same time. Its such a jumble.
However, by looking at the way we love, and
the other emotions that I mentioned on the showlove,
discipline, compassion, endurance, humility, bonding and
sovereigntylooking at them is the first step toward
some type of clarity and freedom.
Is it magic? No. Nothing is magic in this
life. But examination, review, analysis, allowing others
to help us look at ourselves is the key way, the only way,
to growth. I encourage all of you to look at your feelings
this way. Its not easy. Its hard to look at
yourself because you may be afraid to see something ugly.
You may be afraid that you cant change, so whats
the point of looking at it? You may be so consumed with
other things going on in your life, that you dont
have time, as people say, Ill make time when
But the truth is, we really have to be true
to ourselves and have integrity and honesty when we examine
ourselves. Ultimately only you can determine whether
youre ready to examine your own emotional life.
We have Norman on the air.
Caller: Id like to emphasize
that you as a member of the clergy, in fact most clergy,
but youre on a higher level, most clergy do not emphasize
the power that the Torah and other works give us, that we
are great, we are in the Divine image. That message which
should be repeated often by the clergy is going to help
people realize their potential. We have to realize and repeat
it to ourselves. But the clergy repeating it and bringing
out appropriate proverbs is very important. I would appreciate
it if you would do it more. Youre really at a high
Jacobson: Thank you Norman. Ive
never been identified as clergy but its a nice title.
I hope it doesnt intimidate anyone. But I appreciate
your comment. We go to Lewis on the air.
Caller: Hello Rabbi, how are you? I
dont know if this question is appropriate, its
more personal than general in nature, but for 20 years Ive
been in a particular business and although Ive wanted
to look to different horizons, I just havent had the
fortitude to do so. However, in the past month Ive
had three major casualty losses which put me in the position
that Im going to be out of business and I have to
look to do something else with my life. Thats awfully
hard at 42, after doing the same thing for 20 years. I would
just appreciate any light that you can shine on my particular
It is somewhat of an emotional quagmire because
I just dont know which way Im going to run.
Jacobson: You mean, what to do with
Caller: Yes, with my business career.
Jacobson: Well, its hard to answer
because I dont know what kind of work youre
in. Are there other opportunities ahead of you or do you
have to write your own script?
Caller: There are opportunities but
I just dont know where to look. Im a smart man
and Im sure that Ill get into something but
Ill have to go through some upheaval. And that upheavalsometimes
youre on top and then sometimes youre on the
Jacobson: Yes. Its a wheel. Well,
since you titled yourself as wise, Id say to you as
follows: Its critical that you allow someone whom
you trust to advise, to give suggestions. I dont know
what your spiritual life is like; I dont know what
your personal life is like.
Caller: I happen to be Catholic but
I always respected the fact that the Judaic religion gets
more involved with philosophy on a personal and a more practical
basis, whereas my Roman Catholic religion, which Im
very active with, is more about your moral behavior rather
than your practical outlook, if you know what I mean.
Jacobson: I definitely do and I appreciate
your confidence. In the brief time we have here, if you
dont mind staying on the line, you can give your number
to the person answering the calls here and I can talk to
you some more about this, or you can email me at email@example.com.
This requires more than just a 30-second response.
Caller: Thats very nice of you.
Id be happy to stay on the phone.
Jacobson: Id like to first of
all thank the sponsors of this show. Id like to thank
Robert Klein, whose generous support has made more than
one show possible. Thank you Robert, I hope you enjoyed
your recent trip and may I wish you a happy and kosher Passover,
one that will be meaningful and liberating. Let me also
thank all of you who in many ways, big and small, have contributed
to the many ongoing activities and projects of the Meaningful
I invite you to participate, because shows
like this can only happen through your help, to either sponsor
a show or get more information on the Meaningful Life Center.
In addition to making a donation, if theres anything
that I can help you with, whether its a question,
whether its an answer and Ill give you the question,
please call us at 1-800-3MEANING (1-800-363-2646).
I also invite you to call to order a copy
of my book, The Spiritual Guide to the Counting of the
Omer, the Original 49-Step Program, which you can obtain
by contacting us at the above phone numbers and addresses.
On a practical note Id like to suggest
practical exercises for each of us: to look at our emotions
and examine them requires making a move. Making a move may
mean reading a book, making a friend, attending a class,
but its about getting out of the rut, getting out
of your groove and doing something new.
I think in this season of freedom and liberation,
its a perfect time to do so.
This has been Toward a Meaningful Life
with Simon Jacobson. Thank you.