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.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Hydroponically Grown Humans... I Feel Sick

I am quite openly not at all objective about abortion in particular and the treatment of human embryos and fetuses in general.  I am, after all, the survivor of a failed abortion attempt.  Not "thought about it, but couldn't go through with it"; not "made appointment, but then chickened out at the lost moment"; but, "tried a procedure, but was unsuccessful in attempt to abort".  Nonetheless, I try very hard to listen to the liberal arguments (which I also used to chant as part of the general liberal catechism), and am genuinely empathetic to the plight of women who find themselves in that difficult position.

What I heard on NPR this morning, however, has left me feeling physically ill.  You can read about it, if you like, but here's the bottom line:  Scientists in Cambridge have achieved a new record, they fertilized a human ova and then kept it alive in vitro (that is, in a test tube/petri dish in a laboratory) for 14 days.  The scientist involve…