Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “Choosing the right path does not mean choosing a life of ease.”

Rabbi Simha Bunim of Peshisha is said to have suggested that a man should always imagine that his head is on the execution block, the evil inclination standing over him with a large axe, ready to decapitate him.

One of his disciples asked, “What happens if a man does not imagine this?”

Rabbi Simha Bunim answered that this would be a sure sign that the evil inclination has already cut off his head.

If a person no longer feels any anguish and lives in tranquility and peace, then he must have already been decapitated, and that is why he has a good life, full of peace and tranquility.

This conclusion is not comforting and certainly is not calming.

A life of tranquility is surely more pleasant than a life of anxiety and stressfulness, but it is not a better life.

Choosing the right path does not mean choosing a life of ease, nor does it mean choosing a life that is devoid of problem.

Rather, it means choosing a life that inevitably contains a certain degree of anguish.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz