Wednesday, November 7, 2012

SEFER HA'KUZARI: "Intention and Deed"


Once a week, I am participating in an online class given by Rabbi Chaim Eisen. The topic is SEFER HA’KUZARI. We have just started and if anyone fluent in English wants to join may do so. Just sign up HERE ! Everything is for free and without any spam. 

As a matter of fact, Rabbi Eisen has been also teaching at Jerusalem’s ORTHODOX UNION (Israel Center) for many years, where I have been participating in another class. Live and not online. :-) Actually he is the only lecturer at the OU I go to because he is a real professional and knows his stuff. 

Anyway, our last online class on SEFER HA’KUZARI was about INTENTION and DEED. 

Intentions are important but they are not enough. The serious deed is what counts.

Rabbi Eisen gave the example of a Yeshiva student setting his alarm clock for Shacharit but when it is ringing, he slams it against the wall and continues to sleep. In this case, the intention was good but the output was lousy. 

However, the question is: WHAT IS A GOOD INTENTION ? In my opinion, this may depend on every person’s potential. G – d is looking at your level of potential and then sees your level of intention. There are times when your level of intention could me much greater because you are not using all of your potential. 

Rabbi Eisen listed people from the TANACH whose intention was good but the deed was just the opposite. Let us look at Nadav and Avihu whose intention was serious but they weren’t commanded to burn incense. It could have been that they were just to overwhelmed and wanted to bring a sacrifice before G – d. However, there are rules and they weren’t allowed to do this at that very moment. 

Another example is the EGEL (Golden Calf). Many Jews participating in the Golden Calf thought that this is the right way to worship G – d. It wasn’t necessarily idol – worship but a different way of acknowledging the Creator. The intention was good, the deed was a catastrophe. 

Another example we find in DIVRE’I HA’YAMIM (Chronicles II), 26:16 – 23: 
King Uzziyahu (Uzziah), a good king who had accomplished a lot, wanted to thank G – d and also burn incense on the Altar. However, burning incense on the Mizbeach is a task for Cohanim only and anyone else taking over this task will be due to G – dly punishment. Despite all warnings, Uzziyahu burnt the incense and was punished with Za’arat (leprosy) on his forehead. The result was that Uzziahu was cut off from the House of G – d and his son Yotam took over kingship.

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