web analytics
April 1, 2015 / 12 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Man: Preprogrammed For Greatness

The-Shmuz

“The ox knows its owner; the donkey the stall of its master; Israel doesn’t know, My nation doesn’t contemplate.” – Yeshayah 1:3

With these words, Yeshayah HaNavi begins the rebuke of his generation, a generation that strayed, that has left the ways of the Torah and turned to other gods and foreign ways.

Rashi explains the depth and magnitude of Yeshayah’s rebuke. The ox doesn’t change its nature. It doesn’t wake up one morning and say, “I will no longer plow.” The donkey doesn’t say to its owner, “I will no longer haul loads.” Each animal follows the nature that was given to it, unquestioningly and dutifully doing that which it was created to do: serve man. But animals receive neither reward nor punishment for what they do. But if man fulfills that which he was created to do, then for eternity he will receive reward. If he sins, he will be punished. Yet Israel, the prophet is saying, has veered off course and changed its ways. And so they are far lower than the animals created to serve them.

This Rashi is very difficult to understand. If you have ever watched a man mount a horse, the following question might have crossed your mind: The man weighs 150 pounds; the horse weighs 1,150 pounds. The man is puny and weak; the horse is strong and mighty. Yet the pudgy man mounts the muscular horse, whip in hand, and commands the horse to ride, gallop, turn, and stop. Why doesn’t the horse just say, “No, I don’t want to bow to your will today”? Why does the powerful horse obey the weak man?

Most likely that question never crossed your mind, because the horse’s instinct is to obey. Built into the very being of the horse is a temperament of subservience to its master.

Man, however, is different. Man has wishes and desires, man has forces pulling him in competing directions, and man has a consciousness, an “I” that sits in deliberation and decides. In fact, the very reason man is given reward or punishment is because it is in his hands to choose. Of all the creations, man alone has free will. It is because of that free will that he is held accountable. So how can Rashi compare the nature of a beast to that of man?

The answer to this question is based on a more focused understanding of human nature.

The Chovos Ha’Levovos (Sha’ar Avodas Elokim) explains that Hashem created man out of two distinct parts: the nefesh hasichli and the nefesh habahami. The nefesh hasichli in man comes from the upper worlds, and so it only wants to do that which is right and proper. It only wants to serve Hashem and accomplish great things. It desires to help others and make a significant contribution. It was created with a need to emulate Hashem.

However, there is another part of man. A full half of man’s personality is shaped by base instincts and desires. Much like any animal in the wild kingdom, man was preprogrammed with all of the impulses and drives needed for his survival. This part of man hungers for things. It doesn’t think about consequences or results. It can’t see into the future. It is made up of desires and appetites.

Man is a synthesis, a combination of opposites – a perfect balance between two competing natures. If he chooses to listen to his pure nefesh, he grows and accomplishes, reaching his potential and purpose in creation. If he chooses to listen to his animal instincts, then he destroys his grandeur and majesty, becoming lower than even the behaimah. When we refer to free will, we mean man’s ability to choose which of his inner natures he will listen to.

This seems to be the answer to this Rashi. Man is preprogrammed for greatness. The other half of man’s personality is screaming out for meaning, purpose and greatness. There is a powerful instinct within him that desires only what is proper. If man follows that side of his inner nature, he is pulled toward perfection. But that is the point; the need for perfection is built into his very nature. This isn’t something he needs to learn; it isn’t something he needs training in; it is part and parcel of his very being.

About the Author: Rabbi Shafier is the founder of the Shmuz.com – The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at the www.theShmuz.com or on the Shmuz App for iphone or Android.


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 “Man: Preprogrammed For Greatness”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Obama Stops Punishing Egypt for Dumping Muslim Brotherhood Prez
Latest Judaism Stories
Bodenheim-032715

Our ability to teach is only successful if done by example.

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

Outside of the High Holidays, Pesach is probably the most celebrated biblical holiday for the majority of Jews.

Business-Halacha-logo

“If I notify people, nobody will buy the matzos!” exclaimed Mr. Mandel. “Once the halachic advisory panel ruled leniently, why can’t I sell the matzos regularly?”

The-Shmuz

So what type of praise is it that Aaron followed orders?

Her Children, Her Whim
‘Kesubas Bnin Dichrin’
(Kesubos 52b)

Question: Must one spend great sums of money and invest much effort in making one’s home kosher for Passover? Not all of us have such unlimited funds.

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Yachatz is not mentioned in the Gemara. What is the foundation for yachatz?

First, the punishment for eating chametz on Pesach is karet, premature death at the Hand of God.

Why is it necessary to invite people to eat from the korban Pesach?

How was I going to get to Manhattan? No cabs were going, we didn’t have a car, and many people who did have cars had no gas.

Did you ever notice that immediately upon being granted our freedom from Egypt, the Jewish people accepted upon themselves the yoke of a new master – Hashem?

Why does Torah make the priests go through a long and seemingly bizarre induction ceremony?

Often people in important positions separate from everyday people & tasks-NOT the Kohen Gadol

You smuggled tefillin into the camp? How can they help? Every day men risked their lives to use them

Rambam: Eating blood’s forbidden because connected to idolatry;Ramban: We’re affected by what we eat

Rambam warns that a festival meal without taking care of the needy isn’t fulfilling simchat yom tov

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

So what type of praise is it that Aaron followed orders?

The-Shmuz

If my garment is clean, then I will be careful about maintaining its beauty. If it is soiled, I will not be as careful.

This concept should be very relevant to us as we, too, should be happy beyond description.

The avodah (service) of the kohen gadol is vital and highly sensitive; the world’s very existence depends on it.

While it may appear that man is in charge, Hashem orchestrates every activity on the planet

Hashem placed this world at man’s disposal. In a real sense, man is the steward of Creation.

He is fully aware that who he will be for eternity is in his hands.

How can the Da’as Zekeinim say this was Hashem’s plan to allow them to become the Torah Nation? We know it was actually a punishment.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/man-preprogrammed-for-greatness/2013/07/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: