Friday, June 20, 2014

Some People Are Wise; Some Are Otherwise

I found this story in Rav Dessler's michtav me'eliyahu, and he writes there that he saw it written by Rav Hai Gaon.
Obviously Im paraphrasing.

The setting is a forest with a lion and a fox conversing calmly. The fox remains cool when the lion casually asks if he can eat him for dinner. 

Now, the fox knows that the lion is an Atkin's kinda guy.

"Your majesty," explains the fox, "I'm a skinny and bony piece of meat. I will be a fat free, carbs free, taste free dinner. I know just what will satisfy you. I will introduce you to a very fat human being who will serve as the most tasty, luscious meal for his majesty".

They walk a few feet and stand beside an invisible pit, covered with only branches and leaves. Behind it sits a Jewish man wrapped in his tallis and tefillin.

"Hmmm" drooled the lion, "he looks real tempting. But, I'm afraid he might start praying and then something bad will happen to me...".

"Oh, don't be silly," replied Mr. Fox, "nothing will happen to you, or to your son. Maybe your grandson will have to suffer for it, but that's really far ahead. By the time your grandson comes around you would have enjoyed this (any many more) tantalizing meals. Don't worry, Your Highness, indulge!"

The lion's persuaded and runs towards the man. While running over the covered pit, he falls inside and is trapped.

Smirking, the fox peers over the edge of the pit and looks down.

"Didn't you tell me that the punishment would only come upon my grandson," growled the angry lion? 

"Hmmm...," the fox scratches his head, "...maybe your grandfather did something wrong, and now you're suffering!"

This humorous little fable is actually a lot deeper than it appears on the surface.

In this week's parsha, Korach, who was an intelligent man and an honorable person, made a grave mistake. He, along with 250 heads of the Sanhedrin, openly accused Moshe and Aharon of making the fate of the Jewish people worse by taking them out of Egypt. 
Between you and me, this is the stupidest thing Ive ever heard. It was obvious that life outside of slavery was ideal and more enjoyable, and yet, Korach and his teammates (including the renowned delinquents Dasan and Aveeram) insisted with such certainty about the misdeeds of Moshe and Aharon, that it actually sounded true and convincing.

Sometimes we come across the most intelligent, educated people who vigorously argue their opinions and convictions, when there's no doubt that what they're saying is in complete contrast with the Torah

We have to be careful not to let their intelligence blind us from realizing that we cannot trust them when their personal desires block them from seeing the truth. Since they're so smart, they can use their intelligence to mislead others into accepting their argument as truth and logic. When we have our own agenda, we can easily fail to focus on the truth, but rather everything seems to surround our personal desires. This, needless to say is very dangerous.  
This, is how Obama became president.

The most obvious contemporary example portraying this idea would be $$$$ . How many marriages suffer because of misuse of money? How many times does one spouse mindlessly spend more than they earn causing the breadwinner to either go into heart attack induced debt, or, worse, leading them to work dishonestly to fulfill the spouses' desires? We can easily be carried away by our wants, (aka needs) allowing ourselves to further crooked our priorities. The same thing is with honor. On whatever level, a person running after fame or recognition can be blinded from the truth while trying to reach his goal. 

Getting back to the forest scene from earlier, maybe the lion fell into the trap simply because he was attracted to some fatty meat? His desire prevented him from seeing what he realized afterward was the truth.

We have to be on guard constantly. Either we're bound to meet people who seem smart, but are doing things we know are anti Torah, and  we need to not be misled by their charm and intelligence. Or, we, ourselves might arrive at a moment where our personal desires may start taking over our knowledge of right and wrong, and therefore we have to have clarity of mind and be focused on the truth in order to assure that our personal agenda will not interfere.

 I don't know about you, but I can never have a piece of chocolate cake or full fat ice cream all by myself. I always need to know that someone else is gonna gain the weight too, so before I indulge I run around looking for people to share in the delight with me.

Nobody likes to sin alone. We tend to drag people down with us. If we have a convincing argument, they're certain to join us.

Korach  and his people were intelligent, high class, educated men who had a convincing argument which contradicted the truth. These are the kind of people we have to keep our distance from... and also, to be cautious not to become one of them.

Have a great shabbos!