What’s life all about? An emunah perspective

The question of the introduction – itself – needs no introduction.

This is a question that every single person asks at some point in their life.

Is there a G-d? (Yes. Please read Core Emunah book 1 for more on this topic. Coming soon to Amazon)

But even answering the question with a “yes,” there still are so many other dimensions to the problem!

  1. I’m here because G-d created me. What did he create me for? Olam ha’ba, (the next world)? Why can’t I just get that today? What do I need this world for?

These are very tough questions… if you don’t have a written Torah and sages, ob”m, who have transmitted to us the oral one!

To give an answer to this issue, I will utilize the model that was relayed to us by HaRav Moshe Chaim Luzzato, ob”m, in his books Derech HaShem and Darkei Tevunos.

HaShem, Creator and Master of all, King of Kings, wanted to do chessed. It’s not a lack on his part. He is a Ba’al chessed (master of chessed) whether or not there is someone with which to actually do chessed with. But He decided to actually DO the chessed.

True chessed though is to give something to someone else which that person appreciates. The best way to do chessed, though, is to make sure that the chessed that you do is actually what the other person needs and that it does not entail something that the other person doesn’t appreciate. For example, many people go out of their way to do chessed with the family of a woman who recently gave birth by cooking a meal for the family. That is chessed. However, there are two aspects which are not always taken into consideration. First> is the meal the type of meal appreciated by the family? Second> If you send the food in your own pots, instead of disposable pans and the like, this imposes a difficulty on the family to then go, remember who sent them the pots, etc. and then return them. In today’s age, the expense of disposable cookware is so small, and it solves the above problems so directly, why not go the extra dollar?

In any case, I have digressed. HaShem is Gomel Chassadim Tovim (He does GOOD chassadim) as we say every day in the Shemoneh Esreh prayers. He is called this because every aspect of the chessed that He does is good. It is because of this middah (attribute) that HaShem went the extra mile in creation. It’s not enough that there be pleasure in that extraordinary world. It has to be appreciated in all of its facets, and it’s aspects. To do this HaShem had to give His creation something called sechel, (brains). To truly understand all aspects of the pleasure that HaShem wanted to give us you need the mind to understand it in all of its aspects and levels.

Let’s give a few examples of this:

  • I happen to like a good cup of coffee. However, the extent of my understanding of coffee goes to grinding and French pressing. Real coffee connoisseurs understand all about the roasting processes, the brewing, the types of coffee beans, where they were grown and in what type of soil, etc.
  • I also happen to like a good wine. But here, too, the extent of my understanding is “Yum! Fruity!”, whereas a real wine connoisseur knows all about the vintage, the grape, the weather of the crop, the acidity, etc.

When you have the knowledge – it gives you a better understanding and appreciation of all of the facets of a thing. You then get a much more intense pleasure from the thing itself. So too, HaShem wanted His creation to enjoy to the fullest extent the pleasure that He wanted to give.

However, brains and understanding come with a price. You then compare and contrast everything to understand the differences between them! As a result of getting wisdom and understanding (henceforth we’ll just call this “brains”) one of the first things that is going to be compared and contrasted with said brains is Me as compared to HIM! What would I discover? That we are totally different! He is a creator, I am a creation. He is a giver, I am a receiver.

That’s it! I can no longer appreciate the pleasure of the next world! It’s embarrassing to me that I don’t deserve what I get. I would be getting a free lunch, and as we all know — there are no free lunches in this world… unless you are willing to swallow them along with your pride and your self-respect. Man, the creation, didn’t (and still doesn’t) want that! This is called nahama d’chisufa, in the language of our sages. The bread of shame.

So we can’t just get it. To avoid the problem of nahama d’chisufa, we must deserve what we get. That’s the only way to circumvent the problem. But that’s just the beginning.

How does HKB”H go about arranging things so that we solve all of the issues above? He does so in the following way:

First of all, to deserve the reward, solving the above problem, it can’t be easy to do it. If there is no effort involved there also is no reason to get rewarded for it! By the same token, both HKB”H Himself and the reward of the world to come cannot be readily known in this world. If a person were constantly aware of HKB”H’s existence, then there would be no possibility for sin. It would be a choice between doing what G-d told me to do while He is supervising me or … what would the other possibility be? If we knew the reward of the world to come in this world, then there also would be no test, as no other pleasure in existence is comparable! As our sages say in Tractate Avos (4:17) if we were to take all of the pleasure of this world, that of every man, woman, and child and we would wrap it up into an instant of pleasure – it wouldn’t hold a candle to even a whiff, one smell, of the world to come. So apparently in this world, we cannot know the pleasure of the next world.

To facilitate the above HKB”H created the world, called Olam in Hebrew. The root of the word is עלמ, which means “to hide ” or “to cover.” The purpose of this world is to hide HKB”H’s presence so that we should not readily sense it without effort and training. It is also to hide the pleasures of the next world, even though they can be sensed and “tasted” in this world as well. (More on this in a different article).

SO now we have the world, an olam, which hides HaShem’s presence from us and hides from us the pleasures of the next world. We have a creation that has a job to do in this world to deserve his reward in the next. What now?

Now… we wait for the next article.

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