Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pnimi versus chitzon

A pnimi versus a chitzon. These two expressions should be on the tip of the tongue of every Chabad Chossid. His deepest yearning in life should be to become a true pnimi, and his darkest, most painful thought is that he may be a chitzon. What is the meaning of these terms?

A pnimi is an “inward person.” Someone real, honest, genuine, solid. Someone who realizes that he has to fight a constant inner war with the goal of reaching deep, lasting inner change. He is not focused on the faults of others, but of himself. He does not dwell on the past or the future, but lives in the present. V’chilufeihem b’chitzon—a chitzon, a “superficial person,” is the opposite.

Reb Shlomo Chaim Kesselman was a great Mashpia. He taught in the Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim in Kfar Chabad. Here is a quote from a booklet about him:

The emphasis in his Avodah and in his demands of others was Avodah Pnimis. He succeeded at bringing his students to despise the characteristic of chitzoniyus (“shallowness”). Sentences like “see who I am,” “see what my deeds are” were repulsive. It reached the point that no insulting expression that anyone would hurl, no matter how harsh, would agitate the person and raise his blood pressure as much as when told “you are a chitzon.” Reb Shlomo Chaim Kesselman would emphasize again and again, a thousand times, that Chassidus demands Avodah with oneself, Avodah Pnimis, and a chitzon is not only not an oived, and not “with the swim,” but he is outside the entire picture, and is completely out of touch with the true purpose; he is always nothing but a chitzon.

Teshurah L’zecher Reb Shlomo Chaim Kesselman, p. 27.