Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Piety is primarily in motivation - not unique deeds

Daas Torah page 153

Derashos HaRan (#6):
Someone who devotes his body and soul to G-d and strongly desires to serve Him [even without being a scholar], will reach a higher level than someone who is a scholar [but is lacking this desire]. This principle is found in Berachos (20a). “Why did miracles happen in previous generous but not now? It can’t be because they were more learned because in fact the current generation is more learned than in the past? The answer is that they were willing to devote themselves totally to G-d while the current generation is not so devoted.” Thus, we see that G-d is most concerned with what is in a person’s heart, when he does good deeds, and not with knowledge per se. It follows from this principle that when a person’s motivation is to come closer to G-d - then even when he is engaged in mundane activities such as business - his activity is actually total service of G-d. On the other hand, someone who isn’t motivated to come closer to G-d - even if he thinks he is serving G-d - is actually rebelling against Him. This issue causes much error amongst the masses when they see tzadikim involved in mundane activities. We also err when we learn that the Avos engaged in activities such as farming or business. Error is produced when we learn from our sages that Yaakov risked his life for some small jars. The masses conclude from this that tzadikim - despite all their piety - act just like the common man. Woe is it to the people that see but don’t understand what they see. They can only see the action but not the internal motivation behind it. In fact, the righteous do everything for much purer spiritual reasons than lesser individuals. This problem is related to the observation that the masses can’t distinguish between a good and bad doctor. The explanation is that the activities of all doctors seem identical in that they provide medicines and ointments. The good doctor however prescribes the medicine to the right person at the right time at the right dosage - in contrast to the bad doctor. We can say the same about the performance of mitzvos. The masses equate the pious individual and the common man in terms of their activities. However, the activities of the pious person are of a higher nature because of the higher-level motivation which is the most important aspect of the mitzva. Also concerning sin - thought about transgressing can be as damaging as the act itself (Yoma 29a).

No comments :

Post a Comment

please use either your real name or a pseudonym.