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.