Wednesday, September 01, 2021

who you are vs who you choose to be

 הַעִדֹ֨תִי בָכֶ֣ם הַיּוֹם֮ אֶת־הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם וְאֶת־הָאָ֒רֶץ֒ 

Rashi explains:

אמר להם הקב״ה לישראל, הסתכלו בשמים שבראתי לשמש אתכם, שמא שינו את מידתם, שמא לא עלה גלגל חמה מן המזרח והאיר לכל העולם, כעניין שנאמר: וזרח השמש ובא השמש (קהלת א׳:ה׳)? הסתכלו בארץ שנבראת לשמשכם, שמא שינה מידתה, שמא זרעתם אותה ולא צמחה, או שמא זרעתם חיטים והעלה שעורים? ומה אילו שנעשו לא לשכר ולא להפסד, אם זוכין אין מקבלין שכר, ואם חוטאין אין מקבלין פורענות, לא שינו את מידתם, אתם שאם זכיתם אתם מקבלים שכר, ואם חטאתם תקבלו פורענות, על אחת כמה וכמה.

Look at the heavens.  Does the sun ever choose to not do its job that day?  Look at the earth. Do you ever plant wheat and the ground decides to do its own thing and produce barley instead?  If the sun and the earth can do the ratzon Hashem without the promise/threat of schar/onesh, kal v'chomer we who do get schar/onesh have no excuses for not doing so.

What's the comparison?  The sun is not a baal bechira.  The earth is not a baal bechira.  They have no choice but to do the ratzon Hashem.  We are not like that.

Sefas Emes explains that what Rashi is telling us is that just like it's built into the teva of the sun and the earth and everything else in nature to do the ratzon Hashem, so too, it's built into our teva as well.  A human being is not a barbarian who has to affirmatively choose to curb his natural instincts in order to do the ratzon Hashem.  Aderaba, a human being is preprogrammed to do the right thing, like the rest of nature, unless he/she affirmatively chooses otherwise.  

People on the wrong path sometimes say, "What do you want from me -- that's who I am."  Comes our pasuk and tells us that's not who you are -- that's who you choose to be.  But you can choose otherwise, and correct your mistakes.

(This is very much in keeping with the Maharal's idea that cheit is not b'etzem, it's b'mikreh.  When a Jew sins, it is not because he/she by nature is corrupt; it's simply a product of circumstance.)

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