Logotherapy is focused on accessing the individual’s natural goodness and will to meaning.
This can be translated in Jewish terms in one of the messages in the recitation of the Shema where we say “Hear O Israel the Lord our God the Lord is One” followed by “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…” The word for heart is in plural, “hearts,” and this is interpreted to refer to the “bad inclination” as well as the “good inclination.”
What is the bad inclination and how do we serve God with it?
In one sense it refers to the instincts of a person that need to be controlled and mediated by our higher rational self. There is another meaning to it which I want to focus on here.
In the sentence “I want” the “I” is the authentic “I” of the yetzer hatov (good inclination) and the “want” is the yetzer hara (bad inclination).
There is passion in us, a “want,” a will to meaning, a longing, a yearning for connection and bonding.
And then there is an “I” that wants. It is the authentic “I” that was created “upright” that was made in the divine image, that is naturally good and wants good.
The “bad” inclination is wild, alive energy, and energy that has no boundaries can lead to bad places. That’s why it is called a “bad” inclination. Thus instead of the “bad inclination” we should call it the inclination that can potentially be used for bad.
But instead of living with a dichotomy between body and spirit and a struggle and war between id and superego (as in the first sense of the “bad inclination” that needs to be controlled, which was mentioned above) we can live with our”want” (our passion) as God intended in creating it to begin with – that is, to be able to connect to God, to Torah (God’s way of connecting with us) and to people.
Passion is the gift of bonding, and only in bonding there is true joy. In this picture of things the “bad inclination” and “good inclination” are not at odds but work together as a team.
Who am I really? Ask the good inclination. This is what we do when we ask the client, “Who are you really” Is the way you are behaving true to who you are?
What do I really want deep down? Ask the “bad” inclination. We only call it bad because of the first sense of the meaning of this expression but in the sense of the aliveness that is in us that allows us to engage in life, this is our will to meaning.
“Love God with all of your hearts…” means:
Take your passion, your energy, your aliveness and use it to serve God and live life with passion
Get in touch with your natural goodness and serve God with it.
Serve with both hearts and merge them as one.