Skip to main content

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?


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: 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: 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…