Love life like yourself ?!?!?

June 7, 2010, 9:52 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

When Hashem created the world, He made no promises that life would be easy. When Hashem created the world, He created an imperfect creature called man. For some reason, He decided to fill the heart of man with character flaws and challenges and the inability to choose right from wrong. He created the world in such a way that man would need to make hard choices without the skills to choose the right way. How can a person be expected to make the right choices when emotional baggage accumulated through learning the hard way that other people can’t always be trusted gets in the way of each and every one of our actions. This is the question that I have struggled with the most since my journey into Judaism first began almost 20 years ago. I understand that there is free choice, but how free is the choice when there is so much pain in the way of making the right choice. The easy answer is that man chooses wrong. I say that this is not true. I say that man does not have the ability to choose right most of the time. It is like trying to get to a destination without the directions on how exactly to get there. Again, the response from most people I know is that Hashem provides the answer in Torah and again I say this is a copout answer. True Hashem provides the Torah for us as Jews to be guided by and live our lives by, but let’s face it, plenty of very righteous people have died under the sword for practicing the Book the promises them life. There is a contradiction: death provided by living by what is promised to bring nothing but life. I do not disagree with this. On the contrary, I think that the Torah is our only road map and is our only hope. It is the gentle light from the burning candle the lights up the dark room. It is a candle whose flame can never be extinguished, no matter how many times somebody either from within or from outside Judaism comes along and tries their hardest to put that candle out. When it comes to observing Torah and keeping mitzvoth, there is no free choice really. It is quite simple: either you do or you are going to have to learn to live with the consequences. Something that I have learned reading through the Tanach is how difficult it is not only to consistently stay on the good path, but to also encourage others to do the same. In fact, the stronger the leader, the more difficult this mission often is. Avraham had 10 tests, Yitzchak was almost sacrificed, Yaakov could not find peace of mind until he was an old man living in Egypt, Yosef was sold by his brothers, and Moshe is constantly dealing with an ungrateful nation that does not appreciate or understand the real essence of his leadership. Even the simple Jew does not have it easy. Look through the pages of history to learn the story of how the everyday Jew managed to cope with truly impossible circumstances. In a sense, the challenges were easier to face back then when Jews were oppressed by an anti-Semitic government because it was very clear who exactly their enemy was. You could point your finger at someone and say, “That man over there hates my guts because I am Jewish. He knows nothing about me, nothing about the type of person I am, nothing about my faith and my resilience and the worst part of it is that he does not care anything about these things. To him, I am nothing but a Jew. He can’t see past this. It is not in his makeup or genetic design to do so.” But knowing who exactly your enemy is provides peace of mind because you know for sure to stay away from him and develop skills for living with the threat he provides. I am not saying that this is an easy mission, but it is one in which you know the hand you are dealt and over time you learn how to play this hand. But in these times when nations are preaching tolerance, love, and acceptance, it is much harder to identify your enemy and much harder to fight him once you do. People will say that the man who does hate you in his heart actually loves you. By saying such a statement, your hands are tied behind your back and you are rendered powerless. So this brings me back to my original question: where exactly is the free choice in all of this to decide light over darkness? My point is that it is very hard to make the right choices when dealing with so many enemies and in my opinion, the enemy is harder to fight today because he is not so easily seen. Even if you know this man to be your enemy, others in your community, even your friends, will tell you that he is your friend. It takes a very strong, wise, and courageous person to still stand up to his enemy under such circumstances. Yet it is under such conditions that we live. Ego creeps freely into the small crack that is left open by the door of pride and self-gratification that we like to honor ourselves with. Once this enemy creeps in, he manifests himself in many ways that disguise themselves as truth. We live in such a fast-moving and spread out world though that we look for anything to keep us connected to that other truth we each have inside that is buried by needs that demand instant gratification without compromising to wait another day before having its desires satisfied. We do not see though how both our active and passive participation in this contributes to the strength of the enemy. How are we supposed to see though? I once thought that arriving at the decision to keep a life of Torah and mitzvoth would put the plane in auto-pilot. No need for me to navigate anymore I thought to myself. Well this was a false impression of what it means to live a life of Torah and mitzvoth. If anything, the path is become more laden with unforeseen turns and dangers that quite honestly are impossible to see. Again, you can’t fight an enemy fairly if you do not see the enemy. Free choice is when there is an equal balance of light and darkness from which to choose, but if you do not separate clearly the light from the darkness, then what possibility do you realistically have to choose the light over the darkness? Do we really choose not to see? Some say that we make this choice, but again I am not convinced that this is true. A study of psychology would indicate that childhood experiences effect our minds and actions throughout our lives. A small child who experiences or witnesses any kind of abuse as a young person is guaranteed to be scarred forever by one single event of abuse. What about if the abuse is constantly repeated? Are you seriously expecting that child to grow up and make good choices as an adult? When faced with similar circumstances as an adult, can this person be expected to choose any differently than what he/she already knows and is familiar with? I am not saying that the answer to this question is no, just that I am not sure what the answer is.

By Meir Chaim Karp


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

hi meir chaim-that was a beautiful moving piece- kind of a plea for a better world while a defense of our lives progress due to circumstantial facts. As to the question of abuse and it’s effects that was certainly well taken; it’s answers seemingly beyond the scope of our ability to understand how small but meaningful events can mark a person for ever.It’s for sure that your still searching and that’s got to be good.
We’re well here and working hope you are too.

Comment by yaqov sack

Re: Hey
Hey. Thanks. It has been a whiile since we have been in touch. glad to hear from you. I think of you and the family often!!

Comment by Mitch Karp

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: