Parshat Yitro 1: Na'aseh V'Nishma
Parshat Yitro 2: Hearing Hashem's Messages
But how could they promise such a thing? How can you do something BEFORE you ever hear it?
Unless you’re psychic, you have no idea what you’ll be asked to do.
So you can’t do it.
Except that you can.
The secret to na’aseh v’nishma is revealed through Avos 3:12:
כל שמעשיו מרובין מחכמתו, חכמתו מתקיימת
“Anyone whose good deeds exceed his wisdom, his wisdom will endure.”
What does that mean? Rav Avigdor Miller explains:
“If a person does more than he knows about, more than he learned, that’s a man whose wisdom endures and has eternal value.”
“If you know ten halachos, you can fulfill ten halachos. And if you learn one more halacha, then you’ll be able to do that one as well, and you’ll have eleven.
So what’s the solution?
You say, “Na’aseh v’nishma” about anything Chazal says.
“Whatever you’ll learn in the seforim, whatever the chachmei haTorah will tell you is necessary to do — right now, even before you heard their words — you accept upon yourself to do it.”
“That man is marked by Me as a man of success. He’s a man who I consider to have already fulfilled these mitzvos that he doesn’t even yet know about.
But if you strive to increase your observance, then accepting upon yourself to do whatever the chachamim command will ultimately earn you schar for any future mitzvos — including those you may never have the opportunity to learn.
“If a person will say with sincerity, ‘I know there’s much to learn still and a lot of things that I’m not doing correctly.
How to Really Want It
“If you want to succeed in this world, it’s not enough to just get by.
Step 1: Fill Your Mind with Torah Ideals (by reading, listening to, and pondering the right things).
Many people daydream of what they’d buy if they could. Others daydream of popularity, fame, the ideal vacation, and all sorts of goals unrelated to their neshamah’s real needs.
These kinds of daydreams are a waste of time. They’re no more than a fake escape because you’re still exactly where you were when you started — maybe even lower.
But once you get your heart focused on the right things, then you’re on your way to daydreams that aren’t only pleasurable, but also productive.
What’s the best way to build up your heart to where your mind knows it should be? Let your imagination get to work. Stare off into space and free your mind to start flowing in the right direction.
Rav Miller gives the example of a person with no money who dreams of building an even bigger Torah community than that of Lakewood. Such a person fantasizes about everything that goes into creating a fantastic new yeshivah community in New York or Eretz Yisrael.
You can also fantasize about helping other Jews with your imaginary wealth or the ill people you’d heal if you could. You can fantasize about shalom coming to Jews suffering from either the thugs on the American streets or the terrorists in Eretz Yisrael. You can also fantasize about Jews living affectionately with each other.
“ ‘Ohhh,’ says Hashem, ‘You’re hoping to Me. You’re not just going through the motions and trying to get by. You’re really hoping in your heart.
Start wishing out loud (but not necessarily where others will hear you).
Rav Miller suggests the following:
- A frum woman who walks down a street full of atheists and tumah can say to herself, “Ah, if I could have lived in the good old days. If I could have lived in the days of the Beis Hamikdash and watched the Kohanim bring the karbonos onto the מזבח with the fear of Hashem on their faces.”
- When you pass by a yeshivah and see bachurim streaming out, say, “Ribono Shel Olam, give a bracha on the roshei yeshivos and their rebbetzins, and on their sons and daughters. And on their eidim and their daughters-in-law. And on their einiklech as well. And the same is for all the Kollel people too. And all the bachurim, all the youngsters in the cheder and in the mesivta, should all live long.”
- A working man who dedicates some precious time to the beis medrash can end his learning session by detouring over to the Shas on the seforim shrank and say, ““Ribono Shel Olam, how I wish I could stay here all night, every night, and learn through Shas. I have such a desire to sit over a daf of Gemara and slowly absorb the sweetness of the words of Chazal. But what can I do already? I have to get to sleep tonight so that I can get up for work tomorrow.”
- You forge increasingly deeper layers of sincerity within your heart.
- You earn schar for your desires as if you actually did them.
Yet Rav Miller understands that initially, you might feel fake. You’ll feel silly. Walking around in stiff new shoes makes for awkward steps — at the beginning.
“Now, the first fifty times you don’t mean it. You don’t mean it all. But one thing you do mean – you want to mean it!