Rabbi Label Lam
At Any Given Moment
The question always percolates in the back of our minds, even if it is not
openly expressed, whenever we attempt to live by the Torah's precepts and
then our desires are thwarted by a "Torah prohibition". "What's so wrong?
Why not!?" There is no answer, because there is no question. The assumption
of the query has a false premise.
To understand the fundamental flaw implied in the questioner's paradigm, we
must be prepared to revisit the experience of all experiences, the event of
all events, "The Giving of The Torah!"
There is an illusion that we tend to live with unless consciously
confronted. Imagine, if you please, a young person knocking on the door of
a large mansion. After getting no answer he tries the door handle. It
yields easily to his overture as if inviting him to enter.
He explores, cautiously at first, and finding nobody there he becomes more
and more emboldened. After a short while he has adapted himself quite
comfortably to his new environs and has "made himself at home."
After a period of time a gentle knock comes to the door. Busy with his
entertainment center, he ignores the ever-growing intensity and urgency of
the banging, choosing to turn the music louder and louder instead.
In a moment of anger and frustration he looks out the peephole to see who's
being so awfully bothersome. All that can be seen is a knee. When he opens
the door to examine the phenomena more closely, there stands a man seven
feet tall who declares with a stern voice, "I am the owner of the house!"
In one moment, the youth is outside the threshold of the door and the owner
comfortably within. The young man is invited in. He takes one careful step
forward. He only eats whatever is offered. He says please and thank you as
he eases back into the residence he had once wrongly assumed was his.
He receives whatever he needs but never loses a healthy respect for the
real owner and remains continuously in a posture of humility and gratitude
for each generous allowance.
I remember experiencing a similar "paradigm shift" twenty something years
ago at my first real Shabbos experience. I don't know if it was the super
sublimity of the Shabbos or the way the Rabbi spoke or my readiness to hear
what he had to say or the combination of the all three. He told us, "You
intellectuals, you thinkers, G-d is not in your world, you are in G-d's world!"
My universe turned upside down in one moment. I realized the arrogance of
the position I had maintained for so many years. If it is His world then it
is not up to The A-lmighty to prove Himself to me, but for me to prove
myself to The A-lmighty. Time is not on our side!
When the entire Nation of Israel stood at Mount Sinai 3314 years ago and
heard the pronouncement, "I am Hashem...", a world that that one might be
induced into thinking was empty and meaningless became filled with His
presence. Any self-respecting parent does not feel compelled to answer the
question, "Why not?" when a child's request is denied. The parent predates
the existence of the child. It's pure foolishness for a creature so
vulnerable and new on the planet to act so presumptuously in the face of
"his maker". Nothing is owed!
It's not that we have this "life thing" going on here and then comes
"religion", "the rabbis", or "the parental units" with all their rules
trying to spoil the fun. Nothing at all is ours! As the Mishnah in Avos
says, "Give to Him what's yours, because you and what is yours are His!"
With that simple adjustment one has lost nothing except a little
existential anxiety. So having happened once in history on a grand scale
already, the mindset is still there in a flash of inspired humility at any
Good Shabbos, and Good Yom Tov!
Text Copyright © 2002 Rabbi Dovid Green and
Project Genesis, Inc.