web analytics
July 29, 2014 / 2 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The New Oracle Of Delphi

MYDECISION.jpg

In medicine, there has been a dramatic shift from the paternalistic model – the doctor knows best – to presenting all options and information to patients and encouraging them to make the decisions. In my (limited) experience, I have found that patients generally do not want this responsibility. I recently observed a patient, two weeks out from minor elbow surgery, asking her physician whether she could drive yet. When he responded, “I don’t know, can you? Do you feel you can drive safely with your arm’s current range of movement?” a look of befuddlement and discomfort crossed her face. She repeated the question.

Humans are created with two competing urges. Part of us yearns to be free, to make our own decisions and choose our own fate. Another part of us desires to be cared for, to have our decisions made for us – and to absolve ourselves of accountability for the outcomes of our actions. After all, if the responsibility for making decisions lies elsewhere, then blame for the results of those decisions also lies outside ourselves. This strikes at the very foundation of a sechar v’onesh belief system. It breaks the essential link between actions and consequences and leads to a culture where one’s choices and the resulting outcomes in no way instruct one’s future behavior.

Halacha acts to control these urges. On the one hand we are provided a framework of rules and boundaries within which to exercise our free will. On the other hand the Torah emphasizes, in no uncertain terms, self-determinism and personal accountability.

Judaism recognizes the seductive appeal of having all decisions made for you – the Oracle of Delphi model, if you will. This is the allure of slavery. It is why a Jewish slave who extends his servitude beyond six years, voluntarily relinquishing his free will, has his ear pierced as a form of dissuasion and reprimand. Rav Yisroel Salanter explains that performing this unpleasant task also functions as a punishment for the owner. His guilt lies in not serving adequately as a role model. He clearly did not demonstrate the proper behavior of a Jew, which is to seek, not shirk, a life of responsibility, difficult decisions, personal choice and growth.

The Torah also admonishes us an astonishing four times against turning toward Ov and Yidoni, a method of predicting the future that incurs the death penalty. This too shelters the individual from determining his own fate.

Given the lengths to which the Torah goes to warn us against the dangers of this choice of lifestyle, it should be no surprise that the temptation is still prevalent in modern society. Most blatantly, this is evidenced by the continued popularity of fortune-tellers and psychics. At a more subtle level, “the expert” has stepped in to satisfy this desire. We increasingly turn to career experts, marriage experts, education experts, and life coaches to tell us what to do. Many parents feel the need to consult experts on everything from how to put their children to sleep to how best to discipline them. Perhaps this suggests that what we seek is not so much the advice itself but more the absolution from having to make judgments of import.

In some sectors of the Jewish community we too have succumbed to the tantalizing pull of abdication of free will. Without even delving into the fads of mekubalim and segulos, suffice it to say we have created a culture wherein rebbeim are consulted on all of life’s major decisions and a fair number of minor ones.

I am not referring to halachic or hashkafic queries, but rather questions that lie well outside these realms: whom to date, what job to take, what schools to attend. These are questions that until relatively recently each individual or family felt capable of answering without outside help. Upon encountering the birth of this tendency, the Ba’al HaTanya (1745-1812) expressed alarm: “Where, in all the books of the scholars of Israel, whether the earlier or later ones, have you ever seen such a custom instituted, to ask about a secular question, such as what to do in some mundane matter…”

About the Author: Ari Lapin is a medical student and entrepreneur who writes on Torah issues, politics, culture, and his experiences in the never dull world of shidduchim. He can be reached via www.arilapin.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The New Oracle Of Delphi”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Some of the missile fire comes from launchers planted in cemeteries, mosques, schools and hospitals. This is an aerial photo of one such launch in Beit Lahiya earlier this week.
Sleepless in Rishon Lezion, IDF Attacks in Gaza Continue
Latest Indepth Stories
Young children 'recruited' by the Al Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) terrorist group for a Shari'a jihadist army in Iraq and Syria.

ISIS poses a great threat to the entire civilized world in general and liberal democracies in particular.

kerry clown

Kerry is preoccupied with pressuring Israel, notwithstanding the transformation of the Arab Spring .

journalism

With no shortage of leftist media that seek to distort the news, what should our Torah response be?

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett

Because let’s face it: Hamas obviously can’t defeat the IDF in the field, soldier against soldier

As Peres retires, Israel fights sour legacy: Insistence on setting policy in line with hopes, rather than with reality.

Our capital was not arbitrarily chosen, as capitals of some other nations were.

UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay accuses the IDF of possible war crimes in Gaza again, cutting slack to Hamas.

There is much I can write you about what is going here, but I am wondering what I should not write. I will start by imagining that I am you, sitting at home in the Los Angeles area and flipping back and forth between the weather, traffic reports, the Ukraine, Mexican illegals and Gaza. No […]

Should Jews in Europe take more responsibility in self-defense of community and property?

It is time for a total military siege on Gaza; Nothing should enter the Gaza Strip.

Germany’s The Jewish Faith newspaper ominously noted, “We Jews are in for a war after the war.”

The truth is we seldom explore with kids what prayer is supposed to be about.

Almost as one, Jews around the world are acknowledging the day-to-day peril facing ordinary Jews in Israel and the extraordinary service of the IDF in protecting them.

More Articles from Ari Lapin
MYDECISION.jpg

Rebbeim are consulted on all of life’s major decisions and a fair number of minor ones.

Illustrative Photo: Yeshiva Bochrim (Students)

Our daughters now seek men who are incapable of supporting them and their children.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-new-oracle-of-delphi/2014/04/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: