Monday, December 16, 2013


Choices- a quote from

"God created a world in which some actions tend to make His presence clearer and more real, while some actions tend to obscure His presence and make Him seem more distant. Man was created with the ability and opportunity to choose between these behaviors. While not all choices have a moral component (e.g. picking between vanilla vs. chocolate), those that do bring you closer to God.
These “physical actions with a moral and spiritual aspect” are called “mitzvot” and act as a link between the spiritual and the physical. Mitzvot serve as the levers which allow physical actions to perfect a supra-physical soul. Each choice of good tends to refine the world, and brings the benefit of a closer relationship with God. Each rejection of good tends to corrupt the world and brings the detriment of distance from God.
Paradoxically, this model — where good choices bring clear rewards and bad choices bring obvious damage — actually fails to bring the maximum good into the world. It is clear that God’s ultimate goal for human beings is not for them to do good. It is for human beings to choose to do good. If God merely wanted to maximize the number of “good” actions in the world, he could have created a race of puppets and robots who would invariably exhibit the desired behaviors. For behaviors and choices to be meaningful, it is critical that we could have acted otherwise… but chose to do good.
If all destructive choices were immediately answered with an electric shock, only crazies would do evil.
If God had created a world in which all good actions were rewarded with chocolate, and all destructive choices were immediately answered with an electric shock, only crazies and rebels would dare to do evil. Although we would theoretically have “choice,” we would be functional automatons.
This idea suggests one answer to the puzzle of why God “hardened Pharaoh’s heart” during the Ten Plagues. On the surface, it would seem that God was removing Pharaoh’s free will. If you look deeper, you will understand that God was actually restoring it. In the face of the overwhelmingly tragic consequences of holding back the Jews, how could any sane man resist the demands of God? The battle was so dominated by God that Pharaoh was compelled by logic to concede.
Confronted by such mind-boggling firepower, Pharaoh was a mere puppet without any real choice. By hardening his heart, God gave Pharaoh the strength to counteract the force of the open miracles, and returned to Pharaoh the ability to decide according to his desires, independent of the external consequences.
In a world in which good choices clearly produce rewards, and bad choices bring damages, there would be no moral choices — just economic ones. Doing good would be reduced to a financially optimal decision rather than a spiritually purifying one. Thus it was necessary to create a world where there was a “cost” to doing good and a “benefit” to doing evil. Spending money to feed the poor reduces your ability to indulge your pleasures, while bonking someone on the head does in fact get you a new wallet, some credit cards and a little extra spending cash. The question is, are they worth your soul?
You were created with two competing motivators: Will and Desire. The ultimate battleground of Free Will is the struggle between what you know you should do and what you feel like doing. Youfeel like taking his wallet, but you know you shouldn’t. You knowyou should help someone out of a bind, but it’s more trouble than you feel like.
Human Beings were given a powerful drive to satisfy short-term physical desires, and also the strength of will to act instead according to their understanding of what’s proper. The Torah — our “Instructions for Living” — helps clarify that understanding"

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