Friday, November 23, 2007

"Not Really So Different Than Non-Religious Materialistic People"

(Picture courtesy of

Rabbi Dovid Sears commenting on "The Pot Of Gold At The End Of The Rainbow":

Chabakuk Elisha: You are absolutely right.

It seems that there are two "tracks" in Yiddishkeit when it comes to these issues in Yiddishkeit. For the person who is bogged down in the ego, he must be motivated to serve G-d by rewards and punishments -- like a child who doesn't know the dangers of playing in the street or the intrinsic reward of certain good behaviors. For the person who has attained a bit of da'as, there is what the Chovos HaLevavos calls "motivation from intellect (or enlightenment)."

Many years ago I asked Rav Eisenblatt, a"h, the Mashgiach of my yeshivah, how ostensibly frum people could be so detail-oriented about mitzvos but lack rachmonus and compassion for others. "Isn't rachmonus and sensitivity to other people what the Torah is all about?"

The Mashgiach agreed heartily.

Then he explained: "These people are not really so different than non-religious materialistic people. It is just that one day they suddenly realized that Hashem truly exists and they had better straighten out! So now they became a little smarter. But their basic self-centered motivation did not change.

"However, through the kedushas ha-Torah, they, too, will get beyond this and begin to serve Hashem and do mitzvos l'shmah (for the intrinsic worth of the mitzvos)..."


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