Torah she lo lishamah: Whatever is in our power to do we should do it even if it is not perfect.

Mixed motives: Are they any good?

by yedidah on January 7, 2014


When we start to learn the Kabbalah of Rabbi Ashlag and we learn that most of our desires are driven by our will to receive for ourselves alone, which separates us from the Creator it comes as a shock. But when we turn to our good deeds, we find to our dismay that they also are tainted with our own ego-driven desires. In fact the more we look, the more it seems to us that whatever we do we simply can’t act purely and simply, giving unconditionally.

So often this realization makes us feel stuck; we don’t want to move backwards but how do we move forwards? The Sages anticipated this dilemma, and answered us in the Talmud, saying,””A person should always practise Torah and mitzvot, even lo lishmah, that is not for its own sake, for through being engaged in Torah and mitzvot even when it is not for its own sake, the person will come to practise Torah and mitzvot for its own sake?” (Pesachim 50b).

In other words… don’t give up! The meaning of Torah that is practised not for its own sake has more than one meaning; but so long as we remain with our overall intention, of wanting to get closer to the Creator and act mercifully as He does, we stay on track.

From the Kabbalah of Rabbi Ashlag

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