web analytics
October 22, 2014 / 28 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



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.

For a person to reach anything short of perfection, he must make a conscious choice to do so. Innate to his being are all of the drives and passions to be like Hashem. And so Yeshayah rebuked his nation: Being good isn’t foreign to your nature. Following the Torah’s ways isn’t something that is imposed upon you – it is built into your very soul. You have all of the instincts to follow it. If you have veered off, then you have rebelled against your very nature. You have subverted the pull to greatness that dwells within your heart. And in that sense, you are lower than the animal kingdom because animals obey the nature Hashem put into them.

GPS for the Soul

This concept is relevant in our lives on two levels. First, simply knowing there is a full half of me that deeply desires to cling to Hashem – that only wants to do that which is proper and appropriate, that deeply desires to daven, learn, and do chesed – is a powerfully motivating concept.

But even more, knowing this allows me to understand how intuitively I know exactly the right thing to do in every situation. Built into me is a part that functions like a GPS, guiding me, directing me. Do this. Don’t do that. Turn left. Now turn right. Make the next legal U-turn.

If I choose to ignore that voice, and in its stead I obey the call of the wild, then I sink and damage myself. I become lower than the animals created to serve me. If I train myself to listen to that voice by learning the Torah’s ways and seeking guidance to develop my inner ear, I set my course to becoming the truly great person that I was predestined to be – someone for whom it was worthwhile to create an entire world.

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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Aftermath of the vehicular terrorist attack at the light rail station near Ammunition Hill, Jerusalem, Oct. 22, 2014.
Arab Paper on Hamas Terrorist Attack: ‘Israeli Police Shoots ‘Palestinian’
Latest Judaism Stories
Bible1

Our intentions are critical in raising children because they mimic everything we parents do & think

Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

A humble person who achieves a position of prominence will utilize the standing to benefit others.

Noah and his Family; mixed media collage by Nathan Hilu. Courtesy Hebrew Union College Museum

Myth #1: It is easy to be a B’nai Noach. It is extraordinarily hard to be a B’nai Noach.

God-and the world

The creation of the world is described twice. Each description serves a unique purpose.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

To the surprise of our protectzia-invested acquaintances, my family has thrived in our daled amos without that amenity, b’ezras Hashem.

Shimon started adjusting the branches on the roof. In doing so, a branch fell off the other side of the car and hit the side-view mirror, cracking it.

I, the one who is housed inside this body, am completely and utterly spiritual.

Should we sit in the sukkah on a day that may be the eighth day when we are not commanded to sit in the sukkah at all?

For Appearance’s Sake
‘Shammai Did Not Follow Their Own Ruling’
(Yevamos 13b 14a)

If one hurts another human being, God is hurt; if one brings joy to another, God is more joyous.

I’m grateful to Hashem for everything; Just the same, I’d love a joyous Yom Tov without aggravation.

Bereshit: Life includes hard choices that challenge our decisions, leaving lingering complications.

Rabbi Fohrman:” Great evils are often wrought by those who are blithely unaware of the power they wield.”

The emphasis on choice, freedom and responsibility is a most distinctive features of Jewish thought.

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

I, the one who is housed inside this body, am completely and utterly spiritual.

The-Shmuz

When Hashem formed man, He gave him the keys to Creation. As the Midrash tells us, Hashem said to Adam, “This is your world now. You are in charge of it; take care that you don’t destroy it.”

Imagine a man who, after having a few too many drinks, gets into his car and begins driving. It takes a while before he is pulled over, but finally the police arrest him, and he stands trial for driving while intoxicated.

This world has its purpose; it has been ideally fashioned to allow man to grow.

Our understanding of what is and what is not possible creates imagined ceilings of opportunity for us.

How can the Torah expect me today, thousands of years after the mitzvahs were given, to view each mitzvah as if I’m fulfilling it for the first time?

A replica reminds a person of the original. Granted it is in miniature, and granted no one would mistake it for the original, but it carries, almost in caricature form, some semblance of the original.

When a person feels he can control the destiny of other people, he runs the risk of feeling self-important, significant, and mighty.

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

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: