Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim

Following is a fictional dialogue between an inquirer "John" and Mesora.
Based on actual discussions with many individuals inquiring on the benefits and reasons for becoming observant.

Part II
Reasoning for Following the Torah's Ideals

John: Now that you've proven that God gave the Torah, what proof do you have that it makes sense for me to follow it?

Mesora: There are a few forms of reasoning which we can apply here. One would be from your own experience, the other would be an integral demonstration of how the Torah is of benefit.

In your own life, you entrust yourself to doctors for prescriptions and surgeries, is that correct?

John: Yes, who better, they understand the body better than anyone else.

Mesora: Right. So you entrust your very life to those who you feel know the body best. Using this same reasoning, if God designed the body, the mind and psyche of man, you would most certainly have to agree to follow His advice, as He didn't merely study the human species as a doctor does, but God surpasses any doctor's knowledge, as God created man. The Creator having more knowledge than the student.

John: I can't argue.

Mesora: Now, this God gave us the Torah as a prescription for the best life we can have. We therefore see it as absurd not to follow what the One who designed us said would make us happiest. He knows best.

John: Again, sound reasoning. But what if I find some idea in the Torah that my mind tells me makes no sense, do I simply follow it, and go against my mind?

Mesora: That's a good question. The answer would be no. I say this as God gave us a mind through which we are to arrive at decisions which guide our lives. He therefore designed us in a way to make decisions based on rational thinking. Just as we wouldn't inject ourselves with poison, we should not do any other act which we view as going against our benefit. But if God gave us the Torah with the goal of it being for our good, do you think you will find anything in it to our detriment?

John: I don't know, I haven't studied it yet. I'm just asking. I hear what you are saying, but I only know that God gave the Torah. I have no concept whether it is a good system or not.

Mesora: So you feel that God could have given a bad system?

John: It could be.

Mesora: So what do you propose to do to answer your question?

John: Well, I obviously can study it or I can just continue my life as I have been living.

Mesora: But you already admit that God gave the Torah as a means for man's ultimate happiness. Why not investigate it for yourself?

John: Honestly, I've tried it, but its not enjoyable.

Mesora: It may take a some time to reach a level of enjoyment - you may not see it as pleasurable at first. This is only because your energies are used to physical pleasures, and the pain you will perceive is not because learning is painful, but because the extraction from any area is enjoined with some frustration. When energies have to be withdrawn from an area which one is accustomed to, until they find a new outlet, one experiences frustration. This is a very important idea. One must not accuse learning of being painful. He must identify the pain as merely the "getting used to" portion of learning. Additionally, when compared to other more popular instant gratifying types of activities, one may identify learning as painful, but if one has patience, and applies himself, he will come to see the pursuit of knowledge as incomparable to any other act.

Once you begin to excel in learning, you will not experience the frustration any longer, but you will be occupied with pondering very interesting areas. The involvement in the ideas will be something you will enjoy on a regular basis. The never-ending search for wisdom was the pursuit of the wisest men. They labored in their studies joyfully, and without end. Read any biography on Einstein, Freud, the Rabbis, and you will find that their interest was solely for learning. They were bothered by problems, and searched for answers many times without sleep. Why such a life of devotion? Because they enjoyed thinking into ideas. It satisfied their beings with an intensity unmatched by any other pursuit. They lived in line with the true nature of man. This 'being in line with your nature' is happiness, and proves that it is a good. The involvement of the Rabbis in Torah study proves that Torah is a good system, to answer your question. And, as man's essential nature is not the physical, but the intellectual, these men were essentially happy. Men however, who follow their accidental natures, the physical desires, will only be accidentally and temporarily happy. They will never experience true essential happiness.

My suggestion for you is to keep in mind what you have just learned, that is the proof that God gave the Torah to man, a system through which one can have the most beneficial and pleasant life. The system was designed by the same Being Who designed man. He therefore knows best what man should occupy his time with.

Give yourself a little time, locate a trained teacher, and set up regular intervals during each day to study with him. Let's talk more soon.