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Thought for the Day: No, It's Not Your Body and Not Your Life

When I was still learning to be frum... actually a better way to say it would be when I was even more ignorant of halacha and bereft of good midos than I am today, I learned about how important it is to make make your main residence the Sukkah during the week of Sukkos.  Therefore, say the s'farim, it is important to beautify your Sukkah with furniture and artwork, just like you would in your home the rest of the year.  I therefore unilaterally decided to override my wife's objections and put a framed "Eishes Chayil" I had bought for her into the Sukkah.  Of course it rained and damaged the artwork.  We had it re-matted; you can hardly tell where it was damaged and it looks just like new.  To me.  When we discussed the matter with a third party, his response (to me) was simply, "But it's not yours.  You wouldn't take something out of the neighbor's house would you?"  Oh.  Good point.

In America today, any discussion of gender roles is already in trouble.  America doesn't believe in roles; they are antithetical to our most closely held ideal: the right to self-determination.  Imagine one could prove that all Jewish men are good at learning talmud and t'fila b'tzibur, while all Jewish women are good at baking challah while saying t'hillim.  Imagine you could even prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they will each feel more fulfilled and happy doing those things, while baking challah gives men hives and learning gemara gives women headaches.  First of all, don't be ridiculous; there isn't that much imagination in the world. But more to the point, the American would still cry, "So what?  If he wants to get hives and she wants to get headaches, that is their RIGHT!!"  No discussion of women's and men's roles, no amount of setting proper context, no amount of logical and emotional persuasion will go any where as long as the "rights" issue goes unchallenged.

The answer to "but it's their right" is simply,  "nuh-uh".  While I don't usually like that answer, in this case it fits perfectly.  I had no right to take my wife's artwork into the sukkah because it wasn't mine.  You have no right to self determination, because its not your life.

We say in the first paragraph of shmone esrei: ".... gomel chasadim tovim, v'konei hakol".  Translated by Art Scroll as "Who bestows beneficial kindness and creates everything."  The word "konei" means "buyer/acquirer".  Their translation is accurate, because by creating something one automatically acquires and owns it.  Moreover, one who acquires something has a special connection to it; he wants it and selected it.  None the less, the p'shat is also true.  G-d owns you.  Lock, stock, and barrel.  You are wholly and soley owned by your Creator.  And its not like you can say, "Thank you very much, but I'd like to go it on my own now."  There is own to go it on.  Each moment of existence is only possible because HaShem infuses reality into your existence.

There used to be a popular bumper sticker that said, "Don't complain about farmers with your mouth full."  HaMeivin yavin.


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