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Spiritual Desires

Spiritual Desires
from Rav E.E. Dessler’s Strive for Truth IV,
rendered into English by Rav Aryeh Carmel O.B.M.


What a person wants—that’s what he is. “The books of the living and the dead” which G-d
scrutinizes on Rosh Hashanah refer to the spiritually living and the spiritually dead. A person who wants
worthless things, “dead” things, is, in a deeper sense, dead himself. Only one who desires the things of the
spirit is truly alive.

That which belongs to the spirit is real. Material goals are “vanity”, that is, illusory. To break with reality
and choose to live in a world of illusion is to die spiritually. Physical death does not change the inner real-
ity of a person. One who insists on living in illusion in this life will find that he is unable to break with
illusion in the other world too.

Conversely, those who during their lifetime are attached to true spirituality now experience a fullness of
being. “Those who love Me will inherit BEING” (Mishlei 8:21). Their being in this world is entirely
within themselves and in no way dependent on anything outside themselves.

They are therefore capable of being completely happy with their lot. One who desires something outside
himself thereby destroys his true self. Hillel said, “If I am not for myself, who is for me?” (Avot 1:14),
meaning “What have I to hope for if I am not in possession of my true self?”

This is also the deeper meaning of the dictum “Whoever casts his eyes on that which is not his not only
fails to obtain what he seeks, but loses what he already has” (Sotah 9a). [He fails to get what he seeks be-
cause whatever he gets will turn out not to be what he was seeking, and he will lose what is truly his - his

own self.]

One who tries to influence others towards Torah without himself inwardly experiencing the grandeur of
Judaism also lives in world of illusion. Consequently he will not succeed in influencing them. Only words
that come from the heart-from reality - enter into people’s hearts.

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