Between Good and Evil- Between Connected and Disconnected
By Ron Weber
Translated by Moshe Neveloff
Somebody once told me that the difference between good and evil is that evil means disconnected or not properly connected, the same language as rickety, unstable (רעוע), and good is stable and connected in a permanent way.
Good means that what you have inside of you is abundant, because all of the good and happiness is hidden inside you, and on the other hand bad means that your internal connection is inadequate or faulty, and therefore you need to look outside to find what you desire. This definition can help us a lot in our strive towards eternal good, because it’s related to what we see all around us- the giant advertisements which are only trying to take us outside. “You are not good enough” the giant billboard whispers to you, “but if you’ll buy this car you’ll be happy and successful.” “You are not good as you are,” the amazing colored ad winks at you, “buy this outfit, and then everything will change.”
It doesn’t mean that dealing with what is inside us is always pleasant, or that dealing with external characteristics is necessarily bad. The problem begins with turning outside ourselves when it is disconnected from our internal point.
“There’s no way that you’re travelling now to India!” One of my business partners at the start-up screamed at me. However it didn’t help him, and in the middle of the craziness I went. I knew that I needed to, I felt that an internal compass was telling me now that it’s time to travel. Our CEO understand what was in my heart and even said to me, after several years and several more trips, that he doesn’t know what I’m doing going on all of my spiritual journeys- “but for some reason you return calmer with some sort of internal quiet and all the investors want to invest with us,” so from his perspective it was completely fine.
The trip was to a silent retreat in the Himalayan Mountains, a separation from the fury of regular life and a complete break from interacting with the outside world. Simple vegetarian food, water, quiet. Nothing happened there. At least on the outside. It wasn’t the first time that I had been at a silent retreat. I already knew the process, which changes from person to person. At the beginning it is strange. The thoughts are racing, what do we do? It was not an organized retreat of vipassana (a Buddhist technique of meditation), where there is a spiritual calendar. It was simple silence, a lot of time to be quiet and to be with yourself. After a certain amount of time the thoughts calm down, and it’s possible to begin to connect to the quiet which is always there, really in the background, beyond the thoughts. Your attention turns from the outside to the inside, to what is happening deep inside of you.
The moment that the nourishment from the outside is stopped, something sprouts from the inside. Something grows from inside of you. A gentle quiet, a presence, which isn’t bothered by a thousand distractions from the outside, a simple connection with yourself. You begin to hear what’s happening inside. You weaken the strength of the outside noise because you don’t need it. You turn your focus inside. The quiet, abstaining from external interaction and communication, allows you to stop. And when we stop it’s possible to see how much we are distracted most of the time, how much we always receive nourishment from the outside. After a day or two of silence, I always understand how much it’s possible to be without media, without societal role playing, without advertisements and endless purchases, without wandering the expanses of the internet.
Do we have to disconnect for several days in order to meet ourselves? We really don’t. Indeed there were Tsaddikim who spoke about how a person needs to separate from the world for a day a week or every ten days, but Rebbe Nachman teaches that all you need is a total of an hour a day of personal prayer. An hour where you turn away from the vanities of the world and meet yourself. An hour where we leave all of our external activities and give ourselves time, with ourselves and with the Creator of the World. An hour of prayer, of quiet, of song, of walking in nature and deep thankfulness for everything that we’ve been given and everything we are still yet to discover.
“Grace is false, and beauty vain; a women who fears Hashem, she should be praised.” (Proverbs, Chapter 31, Verse 30) The Vilna Gaon asks: if grace is false and beauty is vain, why is there even any need for them? How is it possible that Hashem created amazing things like these in vain? He explains that the continuation of the verse explains the beginning. “A women who fears Hashem, she should be praised,” that is to say, when the grace and beauty are connected to her internal point and to the truth, they are uplifted and are connected to their proper place, and then “she should be praised.”
The problem we find then is not with the outside world itself, but rather with the disconnect between the outside world and the internal world. Walking or running outside away from our internal point to the temptations that the outside world offers, to the superficial glow, is what disconnects us from our own good.
The moment that we are disconnected from ourselves, “evil” seemingly is victorious. Why? Because if we are disconnected from our internal treasures, then we don’t feel we have good inside of us, and the outside world attracts us and tempts us to search for good which is outside of us. If someone wants, for example, to convince me to buy a new food processor, he needs to convince me first of all that my food processor is not good. The same is true on the spiritual, emotional level. In order to justify an external search, I first need to be convinced that what I have inside is not good enough.
Good means that what we have inside of us is abundant, because all of the good and happiness are hidden inside us; and on the other hand bad means that our internal connection is inadequate or faulty, and therefore we look for the answers on the outside.
 A brilliant Rabbi and Talmudic scholar who lived in Vilna (Vilnius, Lithuania) 1720-1797