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Full Conviction

Rabbi Yehoshua Alt

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Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications and is the author of the Sefer, Fascinating Insights: Torah Perspectives On Unique Topics. His writings inspire people across the spectrum of Jewish observance to live with the vibrancy and beauty of Torah. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

Full Conviction

In the Mitzva of Hashavas Avaida, returning a lost object, it says לא תוכל להתעלם,[1] you shouldn’t be capable of ignoring it. This is the person we need to make ourselves into. One needs to be sensitive. He must recognize that someone lost an object and is likely anxious to recover it. Our conviction should be so strong that we wouldn’t walk past it.[2]


We must make ourselves incapable of violating whatever it says in the Torah. One’s conviction must be so strong that it wouldn’t enter his mind, as it would violate his very being. The analogy is given of an allergy where one’s conviction is so strong to protect his health and not to violate the boundary of that allergy. In a spiritual sense, we must have a conviction that sins are dangerous. We should reach the level that we have such a strong conviction that we live a life where everyone knows about that allergy and has to accommodate us because of that allergy, and that they can testify about our convictions. It has been said, the purpose of Bechira, free choice, is to reach the level where you have no Bechira to do anything wrong.


We have that which observe where we are like this. For example, a religious Jew wouldn’t entertain the possibility of turning a light on Shabbos or eating non-kosher or eating Chametz on Pesach. The following story is told of the Kotzker Rebbe. Since he had an open house, someone once came and stole candlesticks. When his wife told the Rebbe that someone stole the candlesticks, the Rebbe responded, “How can someone steal the candlesticks if the Torah says not to steal?”

[1] Devarim 22:3. Literally this means, “You shouldn’t hide yourself.”

[2] This is in contrast to just performing the action of returning the object. Rather we must transform our personality.

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