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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?

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