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Thought for the Day: Your Reward? Your Perfection

When I was growing up, I was often introduced as "Jerry's son."  I naturally thought that someday my children would be introduced someday as, "Michael's son/daughter."  Imagine my surprise when I brought my firstborn to shul for the first time and heard, "Hey!  There's Miriam... and her father."  Surely someday I would be known as me, right?  This morning a friend arrived from Eretz Yisrael with his son on a business trip.  He introduced me to his son, who gave me a friendly "Shalom Aleichem."  Then my friend told his son, "That's Debbie's husband, by the way."  "Oh!  Well that deserves a Shalom Aleichem all on it's own.  I had no idea who I was talking to.  Shalom Aleichem!!"  Sigh...

In Da'as T'vunos, the Ramchal presents to us a high level road map and mission statement of reality.  You would think this is the first thing any human being wants to know.  I would never just get in my car and start driving; I would first want to know where I am going and what I want to accomplish.  (Even if just to "take a ride"; then that's my purpose.)  I've never come to work and had my boss just hand me a computer and tell me, "Have fun."  He always wants something done.  Good grief, he even wants to know when it will be done and how I'll confirm that it's done.  Somehow, though, many spend their whole lives never asking why they are here, what are they supposed to accomplish, and how are they to do that.  Da'as T'vunos should be the most well worn book on the shelf, not the one that causes everyone to blanch at just hearing it mentioned.

The sefer is written as a dialog between the soul (searching for meaning, purpose, and structure) and the intellect.  The intellect begins with a deceptively succinct statement:
The first thing you must know and the principle on which the entire structure is built is that the Supreme Will wants you to perfect yourself and, along with yourself, the entire creation.  That is your merit and your reward.  Your merit in that you exerted yourself to fulfill the Will of the Creator (aka Supreme Will).  Your reward, because you will find yourself and all of creation to have been perfected by your efforts.  You will then enjoy the work of your hands and your portion in the perfected world forever.
The rest of the sefer is a discourse on the ramifications of that relatively straightforward mission statement.

My chavrusa asked why everyone wouldn't want that; why should it be reserved only for Jews.  I answered that I think anyone would want that, obviously.  To perfect something, however, you need guidance on what perfection is and how to achieve it.  One then has to follow those instructions.  I work as a computer programmer and have to both read and follow directions all the time.  If I just randomly typed on my computer, I wouldn't last in the job very long.  I also have to agree to be at work and follow the directives set by my management.  Then I have to do the work.

So let's see.... recognize management, accept the rules, go through employee orientation.  The reason that no goyim are eligible for olam haba and self-perfection is because any one who wants to do that is, in fact, going through the conversion process.  How do you think I got here?


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