Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A War of Inclinations

During class the teacher asked, "Anybody have a question?"

A girl raised her hand. She asked, "Why, from the moment we wake up until we go to bed, every moment is filled with obligations, like commandments to obey, Torah to learn, prayers to say, deeds to be done; Is this freedom? Can't we be free of obligations to live as free as animals in a forest? These animals are really free!"

The teacher waited a moment and, noticing a guitar sticking out of the student's bag, walked over to the student, took the guitar out and walked back to her desk. The teacher opened her drawer and pulled out a knife. The students looked on in wonder. The teacher moved the knife slowly and positioned it to cut the strings of the guitar.

The student shouted, "Don't you dare!"

"Why," asked the teacher. "The strings are taut; Under a lot of force. Let's free them from their daily tension."

"But then my guitar won't make music," said the student.

"Aha," said the teacher, "with freedom as you defined it, our souls too could make no music."

The holiday of freedom, Pesach (Passover) not only commemorates our release from bondage under Egyptian rule; It mainly symbolizes our freedom from bondage - to our evil inclination (which Egyptian rule symbolizes)! The evil inclination tells you NOT to do what you're supposed to do, or DO what you musn't do.

Unlike an animal that has no inclination for doing counter to what's right, man does have this inclination. It comes with his spiritual anatomy. He also possesses a good inclination, and how his brain governs his behavior after taking both inclinations into consideration determines his personality.

Man was born into a world that requires obligations of him. He cannot do as he feels without putting his good and bad inclinations on a scale. The animal can, but man cannot. Man's spiritual anatomy, unlike an animal's, is dichotomous.

Man cannot be relieved of his duties to G-d. It's part and parcel with his being. If his evil inclination carries more weight than his good inclination, he makes "bad music". If he follows his good inclination, he makes "good music."

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