Thursday, August 11, 2005

Question & Answer With Chabakuk Elisha - Throwing Reason Out The Window

A Simple Jew asks:

Have you found that you made the most important "decisions" in your life by throwing rational thought out the window and relying solely on faith?

Chabakuk Elisha answers:

It's weird, but yes, I do.

It's funny that you ask me this, since I've often been fascinated by this fact. I'm a guy who is generally tormented when it comes to decision making and I struggle with even minor decisions and yet, when it came to major decisions, I have had a far easier time!

I wish I could shed more light on this, but it's all guess work on my part.

It seems to me that when faced with a real big question I don't rely on myself as much, whereas smaller questions torment me. Maybe as a result, I jump into tough choices with a leap of faith, whereas smaller issues fool me into thinking that I have more control over the matter, and therefore they become a never ending parade of "on the other-hand".

I can spend a week trying to decide about a triviality, but I had very little trouble when I met my wife deciding that she was "the one". I can never decide what to eat, where (or if) to go on a vacation (mind you, I still haven't gone on one in 13 years) but I decided to move across the country with my family, and no job lined up, twice. How did I know this was the right thing to do? How did I know it would work out?

I don't know; I just relied on G-d.

I can't really explain it, but about those bigger things, I just felt that it was the thing to. I was confident that this was the decision to make. I don't know why I knew, I just did.

Sometimes we do something because we know that it's right, even if it doesn't completely make sense. In Chassidus there is concept of "shtus dikedusha" holy foolishness; this is the performance of a holy act that may be somewhat illogical, which is a rectification for real (unholy) foolishness. I'm not sure how or when this technique should be employed, but if we know it's the right thing to do, and we know it fits G-d's will, there is a confidence that pushes us forward - even if it might not make complete logical sense.

At the Red Sea, the Jewish people were faced with a humdinger of a choice. They had the Sea before them, and an angry, vicious army behind them in hot pursuit. What would we have done? What did they do?

Immediately four groups formed:

1. Decided to commit suicide by throwing themselves into the waters, rather than be overtaken.

2. Wanted to return to slavery.

3. Prepared for a show-down, and battle the Egyptians to the bitter end.

4. Started praying.

G-d's response to Moses was that all four approaches were wrong. Rather, G-d directed him to Tell the Jewish people, Go Forward.

It didn't make much sense, but it was the right choice, G-d's choice. Sometimes we get a message like that (I think), and it can sure help a decision along.

Anyone have any other ideas?

Chabakuk Elisha's last guest posting can be read here.


At August 11, 2005 at 2:19:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting "hashgocha protis." Today's "HaYom Yom" cites a drosha from the young RaSHaB to the effect that one must rely upon temimus and emunah bi-ikvasa de-Meshicha, not rational intellect which can lead one down the "primrose path" to destruction.

This echoes Rabbi Nachman's words at the beginning of the ma'amar "Ayeh Mekom Kevodo," Likkutei Moharan Tinyana, Torah Yud Beis -- 'ayyen shom!

At August 11, 2005 at 4:43:00 PM EDT, Blogger Pilot Mom said...

The Red Sea account has always been one of my favorite passages. I've learned so much from reading it. There are great principles to be had out of it.
1. Realize that G-d means for me to be where I am (Exodus 14:1-2)
2. Be more concerned for G-d's glory than for my relief (Exodus 14:3-4)
3. Acknowledge my enemy, but keep my eyes on the Lord (Exodus 14:5-9).
4. Pray (Exodus 14:10).
5. Stay calm and confident, and give G-d time to work (Exodus 14:13-14)
6. When unsure, just take the next logical step by faith (Exodus 14:15).
7. Envision G-d's enveloping presence (Exodus 14:19-20)
8. Trust G-d to deliver in His own unique way (Exodus 14:21-22).
9. View my current crisis as a faith builder for the future (Exodus 14:30-31).
10. Don't forget to praise Him (Exodus 15:1-2).

I'm sure there are many more object lessons one can pull from there.

This is a thought provoking post! :)


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