No inspiration: what should I do? - Vayera

Thursday, 5 November, 2020 - 8:48 am

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Sometimes, we feel completely devoid of inspiration. Is there a point in continuing to perform various good deeds like a robot, without feelings?

In this week’s Haftara, we are told an interesting story. A widow came to the prophet Elisha. Because of her debts, the creditors wanted to take her children as slaves. She went to the Prophet to ask for his blessing and help. He asked her if she had anything left in her home and she answered that she only had a small jug of oil. Elisha told her to bring all the empty containers she had, and to borrow from her neighbors as well. When she did it, he told her to fill the containers with little oil she had. And a miracle happened, she filled up all the empty containers with oil, enabling her to pay her creditors and keep her children.

The Torah’s stories, besides their literal meaning, also have a metaphorical teaching for us. Allegorically, the widow represents the soul who has lost her fire and her inspiration (in Hebrew the words ish – man, esh – fire, are very similar). The evil forces want to take away her children, that is her feelings, and sway them to serve and get busy with negative topics.


When she is asked what characteristic of hers is left, that is faithful and full of feelings for G-d, the soul answers that almost nothing is left. Only the inner strength, the faith that is found deep in the soul, remains. It is something so deep that it usually does not express itself in our everyday lives, only on special occasions such as Yom Kippur or when faced with a threat or danger. The guidance comes soon enough: Fill up your house with empty containers, do as many Mitzvot as you can, even if they are empty of feeling and inspiration. Beginning from this deep faith that always exists in a Jews’ heart, the empty deeds will fill up. The feelings will come.

Let us not allow the “empty” periods without inspiration stop us. The Mitzvot have value even when we do them without feeling. Through the action, the inspiration will come.

Shabbat Shalom,


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