- Accountability and Avoiding Reality
- Moshe Ben-Chaim
- There is an interesting Rashi on Deuteronomy 32:6, commenting
on Moses' rebuke of the Jews. Moses says the Jews are "despicable
and not wise". On the words "not wise" Rashi says,
"You were not wise to understand the outcome (of your actions)
that you have the ability to make things good or bad for yourselves."
Sforno also comments similarly.
- What is Rashi's point? According to Rashi, Moses clearly
teaches accountability for one's actions. He states that the
Jews can create their own future. One where they experience either
success or failure. Nothing is preordained. Each person has the
ability to create his life's path. This is God's design, and
supported by God's gift to man of free will. This is of course
a problem for the proponents of reincarnation. They suggest no
accountability for one's actions, as they believe you can return
after death to "try again." Moses doesn't teach this
view, and Saadia Gaon too opposes reincarnation - or transmigration.
But Saadia Gaon doesn't simply hold an opinion with no reasoning.
He elaborates at length, discussing the absurdities of reincarnation,
and basing his position on many rational arguments. Many Jews
believe in reincarnation, but not one has ever offered a rational
support for this view. This is the first sign of a flawed philosophy
- I refer to blind faith.
- Both Moses and Saadia Gaon offer rationally pleasing explanations
for their views. And this must be. God designed all which exists
and that is truly real. All God's creations follow precise designs
and formulations. They are pleasing to our minds' operating system
of rationale. If an imagined phenomenon does not comply with
reason, we dismiss it, as it could not possibly be the true work
of our wise God.
- Additionally, Moses teaches something even more important;
that one should not run to people to make their lives better,
as is seen by those seeking brachos. Moses did not tell the
people, "come to me so I will change your fate". He
said "you must change your own fate." Moses also said,
"choose life". (Deut. 30:19) This is God's design
for our lives. We are to use our minds to understand the world,
and live a life perfectly in line with our design as humans.
This is the Torah lifestyle. We must be careful to select Moses'
words over our peers' or leaders' words when they are in conflict.
But we do so because we admit to Moses superior knowledge. God
selected Moses' words to be incorporated into the Torah. His
words must be of great truth if God chose to write Moses' words
side by side to His own words.
- This makes sense, as this is how the world operates. All
laws, such as cause and effect, are inescapable truths. If you
do "X", "Y" will happen. Seeking blessings(1) from humans displays the false impression
that human words can change how God's natural laws operate. If
one is foolish in business, he will fail, and no one's words
can magically change that reality if he continues in his folly.
If one eats poison, a rebbe's words cannot change the effects
that poison have on one's body. God designed laws of how poisons
and foolish business practices will definitely hurt man, and
man cannot overthrow God's laws. Yes, one may pray to God. But
counting on miracles is not the Torah way, "ayn somchin
al hanase", "don't rely on a miracle." One seeking
blessings will lead to very rude awakenings.
- God created a world that functions by reason. Moses, the
greatest man ever to live, taught us to use reason and follow
Blessings do not refer to magical words which can change natural
law. Blessings are insights verbalized by a wise person. If the
listener adheres to such wisdom, he will lead a better life.
But one need not seek such blessings when he has the ability
tom think into his actions, and himself, correct his flaws.