Written by Shmuel, 8/5/2019
The most susceptible to external influence is by far children. Often described as a blank sheet of paper, whatever the educator manages to inscribe becomes the future adult. By the time children graduate to the next stage and their minds develop enough intellectual capacity to question, they are already people in every scents.
Not surprisingly, when we are confronted with a difficult inconsistency in our way of life we are more likely to justify it then confront it. When one raises a strange behavior pattern or even an illogical act, we, more often than not, find ourselves explaining it as the most normal thing to do. Whatever we do is the norm, whatever others do is strange.
A story is told of Jim making his way to his mothers freshly dug grave. Approaching the grave with trepidation, he slowly bends over and places a bundle of vibrant(?) hand picked red roses. From the corner of his eye Jim notices a man from oriental decent bent over the nearby tombstone. To his great surprise the man placed a hot steaming plate of cooked rice on the grave. In total amusement Jim turns to the man and asks with an obvious chuckle ‘’when exactly is your mother going to taste that rice, eh’’ without flinching the man answers, “at the same moment that your mother will sniff at those roses!
From a very young age we absorb our surroundings. Taking everything in without questioning. Not that we don’t care to filter the information that shapes our vey self, rather we don’t have the mental capacity to question and evaluate. By the time we mature, we find ourselves as a nice “product of our society” not by choice, rather by default. However since we don’t know any better we identify and defend that which we think is really us.
Encouraged by the power of inertia and the fear of facing the new and unknown. The majority of people live their lives with a relative ease and calm. Cruising along, not being bothered if it’s really the right thing to do or just a “society norm”. If that is what we are used to, then we identify with it and defend it at all cost. Not surprisingly, often times the thing we find ourselves defending so dearly, is something we haven’t even invested a mere few short seconds in analyzing and evaluating its merits.
In his opening statement to mesilat yesharim, R’ luzziato asks a very great and important question about life. “what is mans duty in his world” what are we all here for? Why were we created?
We are all aware of this existential question which pesters all of humanity from time to time. Every mature thinker comes across it at some point in his life, usually earlier then later. However As significant and meaningful that it is, The majority of society dosn’t let it get to them, rather, they learn the art of distraction and avoiding this bothersome thought.
In not delaying and holding the reader in suspense, his following paragraph holds the cosmic answer. Chazzal tell us that man was created to derive the maximum pleasure from G-d! plain forward and simple we were all created to bask in pleasure. If the purpose of our creation was in receiving pleasure, it follows that we are all pleasure seekers. Young or old man or women we are all seeking the same thing, pleasure. Taking this a step further, the difference between the righteous and the evil is the venue by which they pursue pleasure!
Suppose we would place a candy bar and a stash of cash in front of young child with the option of only taking one of them. No doubt he would definitely reach for the candy bar, however if we were do give this same option to an adult he would certainly reach for the money. Seemingly they both want different things, the adult wants the money while the child wants the candy bar; but in reality they both want the same thing the core motivating factor is pleasure. They are both in pursuit of the object that will bring them maximum pleasure, however they differ on what is more pleasurable.
The great R’ S. Wolbe calls it the ‘’bitter truth’’ but we have to realize that we are all pleasure seekers and as small as it makes us feel we must embrace and recognize our deep inner drive.
When choosing a spouse, we supposedly love our future partner, but if we really did love them, wouldn’t we help them choose someone better then ourselves?!
In reality who we really love is ourselves and when we date we are seeking the person that is most suited for us.
Another vey common example, is the often herd exclamation of , ‘’I love fish’’ coming from the devourer of a well done plate of fine pink salmon. If he really did love fish shouldn’t he have bought it while it was still alive and cared for it in a nice and spacious fish tank?
By now it should be obvious that he really loves himself not the fish, and he is bringing as much pleasure as he possibly can to himself, this time through the means of salmon fish that tastes good to him.
In every quest to achieve something, the most logical thing to do, is first to get hold of the tool that will be most effective in aiding us to achieve that which we are after.
Suppose we got information of a secret treasure buried off the shores of ancient tyre. In locating the hidden treasure we can either come to the beach with shovels and try to guess where the ancients hid their gold, or we can get hold of a modern day metal detector to aid us in our search. It’s clear that the metal detector will save us an untold amount of time in our search.
If we are all after pleasure and that’s what we are seeking, we must first identify the most effective tool that will aid us in achieving maximum pleasure. What is it? Is it wealth? Or, perhaps fame?
Lets imagins for a moment, Dave, a fifteen year old high school student. Feeling all grown up, Dave decides to become a lawyer. So he heads to his pc and spends some time designing himself a degree in law from Harvard University. Sometime later, happy with his work, Dave prints his fantastic looking certificate and hangs it on the wall. Not satisfied with that alone, Dave goes on to design himself a prestigious business card for his future clients. ‘’marketing is very important’’ he tells himself as he prints out his impressive looking business cards.
Obviously, after printing his own Degree, Dave is no closer to becoming a lawyer then before he accredited himself. His self proclaimed achievement won’t get him to far. But what is he missing? Doesn’t he really want to be a successful lawyer? Didn’t he try?
What Dave is missing is Knowledge, but not just any knowledge; he is missing true knowledge of how to peruse his goal.
What Dave is lacking is the Truth.
If we want to achieve the maximum pleasure, we must first seek out and get hold of the truth. We must pursue it at all costs, because that holds the key to our life’s ambition that is our only way of acquiring reel pleasure.
(Report an improper chiddush)
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