rom his place in the front row, Yanky watched the crowd at the tish. They were actually enjoying it! It was a blissful experience for them, standing here, singing and hearing vertlach from the Rebbe.

Shaye Langerman sat with his eyes shut. Chaim Yosef Shpringler and his two sons were next to him, and beside them sat Rav Amster and Gevirer and Kaufman and Chenkin and Cohen and Tyberg and the rest. Feivele sat between Tatte and the Rebbe, alongside several choshuve people. Sandy Eliav, the big donor, looked on with interest.

Everyone seemed fully focused.

Everybody was getting a spiritual charge out of this.

Everybody felt connected to a higher realm.

Except for me. My battery is empty. Sometimes I think I don’t even have a battery… like that time when Raizele bought a new cordless phone and plugged it in for 24 hours, and then when she tried to use it, there was no dial tone, because she’d forgotten to put the battery in…

That’s me. You can leave me here all night plugged in, but I won’t get charged. No battery. I don’t even hear what the Rebbe is saying. My mind is wandering all over the place. At least my thoughts are invisible.

I don’t know how much more I can take, how much longer I can keep up this act. Do you hear me, teyere bochurim, heilige kahal, venerable Rebbe and choshuve Tatte? How long am I supposed to keep up this false front? How long can I keep pretending I’m a tzaddik, when inside me there’s just a huge void?

You see me shuckling over my siddur and you think I’m a tzaddik, but my heart is empty. I’m not what you think. I’m just an ordinary person who does the mitzvos because everybody else does them, but I don’t feel the slightest bit of kedushah, or elevation, or whatever you think is happening inside me. Exactly nothing is happening inside me, if you want to know. You see me laying tefillin, shaking lulav, lighting the Chanukah licht, hearing the Megillah and searching for chometz. I do it all, with all the hiddurim, and you’re convinced that you’re looking at a tzaddik yesod oilem, like Nochumku or Feivel.

I feel bad about deceiving you, because I’m honest by nature. I love emes. But the emes is that I’m hollow… and that emes is too terrible to reveal.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 761)