It's All The Same To Me: A Torah Guide To Inner Peace and Love of Life by Moshe Gersht
By Yocheved Golani
A 147-page sanity-saver, It's All The Same To Me: A Torah Guide To Inner Peace and Love of Life presents the concept of equanimity aka hishtavus (hishtavut for Hebrew speakers) to readers. An effective method for remaining calm and centered no matter what is happening to or around the person, or in the wider world, hishtavus (hishtavut) keeps its users calm. It won’t matter if you are familiar with the concept or not, author Moshe Gersht helps readers to understand “What’s it all about?” and to acquire the serenity of equanimity aka hishtavus.
A spiritually classic Jewish concept and character trait, a sense of equanimity aka hishtavus is what enables the Jewish people to weather emotional storms with an ever-lowering sense of drama and an always-increasing sense of serenity. That’s why hishtavus peacefully and pleasantly connects saintly tzadikim and even the rest of Jewry to Am Yisrael – the Jewish people – and to the wider world. Inner peace is the overall total effect. As the author explains, it’s why we feel so relaxed and comfortable in the presence of someone who has achieved hishtavus. It radiates to the public and calms anyone in the vicinity.
The author writes as if in dialogue with a skeptic who doubts that there is a concise, precise way to prevent inner emotional storms. Gersht explains that Jews with highly developed emotional strength have practiced the steps for achieving equanimity for thousands of years. Each chapter explains different aspects of how the mindset can be achieved and why it works. On page 39 the dialogue reads “So is this all just a mindset?” and “It’s more than a mindset. It’s setting the mind down and taking a test.
Use the mind for what it’s good at: thinking, analyzing, developing ideas, contemplation and the like, but know that when you see your convictions – your thoughts, opinions, and beliefs – as being the only way, then it’s time to wake and to realize that you’re no longer using the tool that is your mind; it’s using you. That’s when it's time to set the mind down and tap into your higher consciousness.”
Gersht also explains that equanimity is not about being bored by sameness. “Boring only exists in a world without equanimity,” he explains. Readers then learn that even washing the dishes can be as spiritual an experience as a moment of prayer. The high state of hishtavus consciousness lets a person experience depth, holiness, and a sense of purpose even during mundane tasks.
Life is not about an adrenaline rush of highs and lows but about love, power, energy, joy, and sense of the Divine. Passages from Psalms and other classic pieces of Jewish literature are cited throughout the slim paperback. Those thoughts connect the reader with the Jewish people and Israel’s very history and survival.
Gersht demonstrates that the ego is simply a story that we tell ourselves, then a rut in which we become stuck. Egos are enmeshed in making comparisons. Ending the sense of who or what is or is not “worthy” frees the mind to and person to stop gossiping, to stop being opinionated, and to stop other negative behaviors. Investing in love, by allowing life to be what it is, and to be patient with the process of whatever is going on are keys to inner peace. Hishtavus lets us trust that HaShem is guiding life, and it lets us enjoy the richness of that awareness.
Gersht leaves readers with a heart-warming thought about how to have a peaceful journey through the rest of your life on the last page: “You can only practice [hishtavus]. You cannot make it work. Make it your practice to let go of making it work and allow it to unfold…”
The words and ideas on every page are as gentle as a soothing touch or sigh. Enjoy them when you buy your paperback copy from Barnes and Noble.
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About the Author
Yocheved specializes in issues related to medical crises: the stress, pain, anxiety and downward cascades they can portend. She explains that "Medical institutions tend to infantilize patients, worsening an already seriously deteriorating situation for anyone with a life-threatening condition. My goal is to prevent that from happening and to reverse course. I can help ill people to face their situations with confidence, sensible approaches and an increasingly stress-free mind. Medical evidence proves that people can live longer and/or more happily in such a state."
Ms. Golani's book, It's My Crisis! And I'll Cry if I Need To: EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge has helped readers worldwide to respond with increasingly better strategies, mindsets and dignity to life-altering medical problems. She is also an editor and writer for e-counseling.com.