Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Avodas HaShem is Meant to be Challenging

You know why those birds are so angry?  It's because those awful pigs want to eat their eggs.  Not only that, but every time you think you have finally made the world safe for the unborn and defenseless, more pigs come; oh no!  New kinds of pigs (cute zeidy ones, helmeted ones, baby ones...) and new defenses.  Will it never end?  We certainly hope not; we are having way too much fun figuring out how to use our birds more effectively, how to use our birds different skills better, and also seeing what kinds of schemes those pigs concoct!  Well... of course I mean that the game creator has concocted.

The Mesilas Yesharim while describing the trait of z'rizus (alacrity/willingness/promptness/whatever) reveals to us that the merit of serving HaShem only accrues if we had to overcome obstacles and worked hard.  If we did the same actions, but without struggling, there would be no merit.  That means that the challenges we face in our lives are not impediments to avodas HaShem.  In fact, those challenges are actually the enablers of avodas HaShem!  Isn't that cool?

Now some of you are going to object that I am taking the Ramchal out of context.  The full text of that section is more like:
The physicality of man is very coarse and dark.  That coupled with our lusts and desires makes any sort of progress very difficult.  The merit of serving HaShem only accrues if we work very hard.
"Hah!", you'll tell me, "we have to work hard to merit avodas HaShem because the system makes things difficult.  You got it backwards."  I shall push back (of course).  R' Avigdor Miller states, in his introduction to the M'silas Yesharim, that the G"ra is known to have said there is not even a single extra word in the first eight chapters.  (I don't think he meant there more extra words after that, only that he had not dissected the rest of the sefer with as much precision.)  So it is not possible that the Ramchal would tell us an obvious inference we can draw ourselves.  That is, the Ramchal is not telling is that it's challenging and so you have to work hard (which is obvious).  Rather, he it telling us that to merit avodas HaShem, one must work hard and therefore the Creator has made for us a challenging world (which is an insightful chidush).

You know how addicting Angry Birds is?  You should try living -- it's a blast!


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: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

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…