Thursday, February 06, 2014

the yetzer ha'ra of idealism

If you have 2 minutes, I strongly recommend that you read this post on Mevakesh Lev on women's issues.  If it's a choice of reading this or reading that post, click the link and ignore me.

I hope I am not being "kol hamosif gore'a" but there is so much more to be said on this topic and so much more needs to be said because it's not just about women's issues.  That's just one symptom.

I believe the Piecezna already makes the point that nature abhors a vacuum; if the mind is not filled with Torah, it will find something else to fill itself with.  If you are not excited by learning gemara, so you will find excitement somewhere else.  The truth is that it’s already a Rambam: at the end of Hil Issurei Bi’ah the Rambam tells us “yefaneh atzmo u’machshavto l’divrei Torah” because immorality strikes at a “lev panuy min hachochma.”   Now we understand, says R’ Ya’akov Shapira, the gemara’s lashon of “panuy ha’ba al ha’penuya.”  I recently heard R’ Eli Mansour say that people who say they don’t want their kids to learn Torah are just kidding themselves.  Their kids will learn Torah whether they like it or not, just instead of being Torah emes, it will be the torah of the street, the torah of drugs, the torah of licentiousness.  So true. 

The gemara in Chulin debates whether the malach who fought with Ya’akov appeared to him as a bad guy or as a talmid chacham.  It’s one thing to immerse oneself in Torah to escape the malach of Eisav that looks like a bad guy, but it’s much harder when the yetzer comes dressed up as a talmid chacham.  That yetzer wants you to learn torah – with him as chavrusa or rebbe.  That yetzer has a lomdus to explain why a bas yisrael should wear tefillin to increase her spiritual connection to G-d, why a Jew should not eat meat for a Yom Tov seudah because animals are such special holy creatures, why joining an interfaith discussion is so beautiful because we all have a tzelem Elokim and children of G-d and this can encourage peace and understanding.  You mean to tell me that you are against having a spiritual connection with G-d, or hate animals, or don’t want to live in peace with your neighbor?  Extremist! 
It’s early for parshas zachor, but maybe this is what the seforim mean when they talk about klipas Amalek being "da’as pagum."  A "lev panuy m'chochma" can be filled with nahrishkeit, but it can also be filled with wonderful chochmos and beliefs and ideals all of which are just as treif as kinah, tayvah, and kavod.  You want to sell rishus?  Package it as an ideology, as some -ism, and the most well meaning people will defend it with all the passion they can muster. 
The $64,000 question is how to dispel the muddled, confused ideals, the “torah” the talmid chacham yetzer ha'ra is pawning as real, without extinguishing that fire of idealism.  

1 comment:

  1. R elchonon in ikvisa dmshicha aka epoch of the Messiah,says that same vort (mostly for Zionism )but says the yisod that any ism is avoda zara , there's only torahism!