Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Kirvas Elokim Li Tov

You don't tug on superman's cape, you don't spit into the wind, you don't tug the mask off that old Lone Ranger and you don't argue with a song.  The song says, "HaShem is here, HaShem is there; HaShem is truly everywhere.  Up, up.  Down, down.  Left, right, and all around; that's where He can be found."  Yet, Chazal tell us: "Seek HaShem when He is to be found - these are the days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom HaKippurim." (TB Rosh HaShanah 18a)  Meaning that HaShem is not so readily found the rest of the year.  So where is He?

The Mabit gives one answer.  He says that a person will be embarrassed to do certain things when other people are around.  That is, when they are close.  So too, says the Mabit, the closer a person is to HaShem, the more difficult it will be for him to sin.  Not that he doesn't feel like sinning; that would be not indication at all.  Its more like that feeling when the you look in the rear view mirror and see police car behind you.  Immediately you sit a little straighter, glance at the speedometer, put your cell phone down, etc.  You drive differently and more carefully when the police are close.  So too, when we feel a closeness to HaShem, we live differently.  Not necessarily more comfortably, but differently.

The Chovos Levavos compares HaShem's presence to the sun shining through a window.  Each sin, he says, is like drawing a single spider web across that window.  The decrease in brightness and warmth with each sin is barely perceptible.  After years and decades, though, the window can be blocked and the light all but forgotten; covered by a thick mat of sticky web.  There has been no difference in sun, only in the window's ability to transmit the light and warmth.  So too, HaShem is a constant source of love and warmth, but we block Him out with our sins.

Why in the world would we block Him out?  The mashal of the Mabit tells us why: it can be uncomfortable to be so close.  Do you see HaShem as a policeman in the rear view mirror or your loving father?  If He is the policeman, then sinning will have a double benefit: the pleasure of the sin itself, but also blocking out the discomfort of being so close to The Man (as we used to call anyone in authority).  That is why learning mussar must be a constant avoda along with learning halacha.  Knowing what to do is not enough; ultimately you must also want to do.  Then, and only then, you can experience kirvas elokim li tov.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…

Thought for the Day: Prayer II -- How?

Now that we know that the obligation to pray is nothing more (nor less!) than a divine decree, we are going to also need instructions from heaven on how to implement that decree.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to have instruction from heaven how to implement heavenly decrees.  One only needs to look at the shambles that one modern ism has made of the very important Torah principle of תיקון עולם/improving and fixing the world.  They have taken words out of context and used them to support their own nefarious schemes.  (To the point that Google Translate actually translates -- not transliterates -- תיקון עולם as Tikkun Olam.  Amelia Bedelia would be proud; we are not amused.

The Torah teaches us how to pray in two complementary fashions.  One is the way in which the concept is presented as an obligation, the other is by giving us examples of how to practically implement those instructions.

The obligation is introduced in the second paragraph of "sh'ma" -- וּלְ…