Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: HaShem Defines Good, Not the Other Way Around

"Climber Falls 70 Feet Into An Ice Crevasse", reads a recent headline.  He took "selfie" videos, so you can get a pretty good feel for his situation.  He fell the 70 feet and landed on a ledge.  Looking down he could see that had he not landed there, right beside him was another drop to which he could not see the bottom.  Looking up he could see the hole -- light at the top of the tunnel mamash -- through which he had fallen and was the only apparent way out.  His right arm was broken.  70 feet... basically on the ground floor of a 15 story building looking at a skylight in the roof.

If you want to know how Adam HaRishon felt after eating from the eitz ha'dahs tov v'rah, then imagine our climber feel on a moonless, cloudy night.  Pitch black and lost; all he knows is that he isn't falling anymore.  He knows which way is up, and he has a memory of what it looks like to be out.  Our situation?  We don't even have that memory.  We know nothing but our current situation and we can barely sense which way is up; not even a fading memory to guide us.  All we have is the intellectual knowledge of how to get back up -- the Torah HaK'dosha.

Even though we have intellectual clarity, our "moral compass" is so battered that once an aveira is repeated even once, it feels permissible to us (Yoma 87a).  Repeat it a few times and we are not only looking for a heter ("there is no way in my circumstances this could be forbidden..."), we are actually starting to believe it must be a mitzvah!  That's why, says Da'as T'vunos, we can only have a general picture of what our perfection/shleimus is supposed to be; we just can't appreciate the details, as we have no frame of reference.

Even the broad details may not sing to you.  We know that there is no drinking, no eating in olam ha'bah, rather tzadikim sitting with their crowns and rejoicing in the radiance of the Divine Presence.  I am not even embarrassed to tell you how not so appealing that sounds.  "I'd rather laugh with the sinners that cry with the saints; the sinners are much more fun."  It is a constant avoda to remind ourselves that the "non-funness" of olam ha'bah is our damaged perception, not the reality.  In fact, those general ideas of perfection are revealed specifically to give us a feel for how broken our moral compass really is.

So the Torah gives us specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely goals; aka, mitzvos.  So instead of "if it feels good, do it", we are in the position of bringing our actions under the direction of our minds.  Isn't that precisely what being human is supposed to be?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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…

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…