Sunday, January 17, 2010

Existence -קיום

Sitting at a Bar: Is this only the Yetzer HaRah ?


As soon as you get off the bus in Jerusalem you hear Torah. Not constantly and not at any place but you do hear it.
I heard it last Friday afternoon when I walked out of the Central Bus Station and was waiting for a local bus taking me to the Machane Yehudah Market. Some young American Yeshiva guys passed me and they seemed to be deeply involved in a Parasha talk.

Having something completely different in my mind, the Parasha talk reminded me of my first Yeshiva (seminary) steps. Actually my very first steps were some basic Jewish classes (litvish as well as chassidic) later leading to the AISH HATORAH "Discovery" programme. Let alone further classes at the "ESSENTIALS" (also run by AISH). Not all beginner classes teach you Halachot and what you have to do. Seeing the huge amount of Mitzvot may scare people away. Just strangle them and threats that G - d will punish you by not being observant can cause you to run away.

Many programmes though start teaching "philosophy". Making you aware of why you were created. Why are you here in this world and what is your task. Is there a task at all or everything happened just by accident ?

Those programmes will prove you in detail that nothing happens by accident. There is a G - dly masterplan and we (especially the Jews) have to follow it. This is the reason for our creation and entire being. G - d wants us to do something. To carry out Mitzvot and to search for our task in life.

Haredi groups, in particular strict chassidic groups, even go a step further. They develop their own internal rules the members must keep. The Rebbes teach that if you don't follow Torah and the rules of the group, G - d may punish you. Let alone the group itself.

All this gives you the feeling that your whole life is just a huge Mitzvah box. No thinking, no freedom and no personality but rules, Mitzvot and giving up yourself in order to function. This is the reason why you were created.

When those Yeshiva guys were passing me at the bus stop, I was in the middle of my own thoughts: "Where am I in G - d's masterplan ? Not only me but my existence, my personality ?
Does my entire life consist of following rules and if not, am I doomed to punishment ?"

There is a great difference between those Haredim who were born into society and Baalei Teshuva. As a Baal Teshuva you are either getting so terribly carried away and just jump into religion or you jump but still remain questioning. Many born Haredim don't ask but just do. "This is my duty, those are the rules, this is what G - d wants from me !"

I am just having a problem with the idea of living in and with a society. A society where the individual doesn't count. Where the entire existence stands for following the way of the masses.
Sudden Baalei Teshuva giving up themselves, their "ME" in order to fulfill their task in life.
But what about myself ?
Why did G - d create me with a personality when I don't really need one because He shows me the way ? Was I only created this way in order to live off my "Free Will - Bechirat Chofshit" ?

I think that there is so much more about life. Developing freedom but still fulfilling Mitzvot. A totally secular friend of mine once said that "following Mitzvot or rules and living in a frum society is a sign of people who are not able to manage their own lives". "Those people would need guidance because otherwise they couldn't make it".
In a way, my friend is right.

In the long run, getting overwhelmed is never such a positive way. After a while you may loose your excitement and then start questioning whether you are still a person or a robot.
G - d gave us this world in order to enjoy it. Enjoy it in a moral and Mitzvah frame.
Being religious doesn't mean giving up oneself !

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