A person lives a short term in this world.
THE Obligations to Achieve
In this small space of allotted time – one is to learn, observe the commandments partaining to them, learn torah, get a job, get married, have children, determine your purpose in life and accomplish your mission. Not necessarily in that order.
Where Your Ethics Stop Your Growth
People get stuck or stunted by the advertising of ethics of the world.
What Drives Your Ethics?
I am a vegetarian. I have to be slim. I have to eat healthy. I have to accept all people. All people are equal. I have to help the downtrodden people.
Behind all these ideas are a set of values. I am a vegetarian because I love animals. (Did I mention I have a parakeet.) I am into fasting because I want to be slim. I am into BDS because we have to protect the world from Israel. (Not me – but someone might think that way)
Ethics Cannot Be Determined by Feelings but may be investigated by What You Feel
Perhaps the above thoughts are right. Perhaps they are wrong. Who says feelings are necessarily – the proper way to determine ethics. I might feel one way about a matter and someone else might feel another way. So feelings cannot be the way to determine proper ethics.
Abraham determined what what right and wrong based upon his thoughts and feelings – His Kelayot / Liver taught him what was right and wrong.
נאמר בקורבנות בספר ויקרא: לְעֻמַּת “הֶעָצֶה” יְסִירֶנָּה (ויקרא ג ט) לשון עצה, ובחז”ל נאמר מפורש שהכליות יועצות “לב מבין, כליות יועצות” (ברכות סא)
חז”ל אומרים על אברהם אבינו ע”ה: אב [תרח] לא למדו [לאברהם], ורב לא היה לו, ומהיכן למד את התורה? אלא זימן לו הקדוש ברוך הוא שתי כליותיו כמין שני רבנים והיו נובעות ומלמדות אותו תורה וחכמה, זהו שכתוב: אֲבָרֵךְ–אֶת-יְהוָה, אֲשֶׁר יְעָצָנִי; אַף-לֵילוֹת, יִסְּרוּנִי כִלְיוֹתָי. (תהלים טז ז) (מדרש רבה בראשית פ סא פס’ א)
Ethics, according to Torah, are not man-made – they are G-d made. The Torah tells you what is ethical – because it is G-d given. That is why a person can generally feel what is right or wrong.
Do Your ethics determine your feelings or your feelings determine your ethics?
The problem starts when a person has a strong feeling – their feelings try to convince them that what they are doing is right. People who support BDS – first they have a feeling of Hatred for Israel or Jews – then they convince themselves it is ethical to support BDS. (I Don’t think G-d wants a person to hate His Chosen People.)
A person loves animals. Their loves for animals taints their ethical viewpoint – to sometimes value an animal’s life over the life of a human.
“I love animals.” I once asked a class – if you could spend a million dollars to save an old ladies life – or that same money to save a racehorse that broke it’s leg – what would you do? One student answered – the racehorse.
The Values of Torah – the Value of Human Life
Obviously – that is not the values of the Torah. The Torah places life of a human being above animals and above most commandments.
A Jew who desecrates the Shabbat is liable for a strong punishments. (A gentile is not commanded to observe the Sabbath – on the contrary it is better that they do not observe it – it is forbidden according to Torah.) Yet if a person is in danger one is allowed to “desecrate” the laws of Shabbat to save their life.
Syncing Our values with Values of the Torah
Ok. That is our Job in life – to synchronize our values with the values of the Torah. G-d / Hash-m is non-biased. We are biased. One day we can be angry at a person – the next day we can love that person. So our ethics can be swayed.
Why Torah? Millions is Greater than One
Why Torah? Ethics & Religions are a dime a dozen. I heard over 80,000 religions exists. So why choose Orthodox Judaism’s Torah Ethics? Because the Torah is the only Divinely given law in the world that millions of people witnessed and heard its being given – when G-d Gave the Torah to the Jews the Torah at Mt. Sinai. G-d doesn’t change His mind – so the laws are as valid today as they were when G-d gave the Torah.
Why It Makes No Sense that G-d Changed His Law and gave it to Another People
Many offshoot religions that used Judaism as source for their teachings – say two things:
1. The Jews Did not Observe the Torah – so G-d Chose another People besides the Jews
2. G-d Changed His laws to Make it easier for people to observe.
Point One is illogical. The Jews always observed the Laws of the Torah in their entirety. Either some Jews or all Jews observed. There was never a point in history when Jews did not observe the Torah.
Point Two is also illogical. G-d, at Mount Sinai, initially gave laws for Jews – the 613 Commandments and Non-Jews – the 7 Noahide laws from the Torah. The 7 Noahide laws are laws that are incumbent upon all people to observe. Those are the Laws by which a Non-Jew will be judged by after they die and go to the next world.
It makes sense to know these laws to get in sync to maximize one’s potential for reward in this world and the next. (See 10 or 7 Commandments – Which do you Observe?)
The Long Short Path
The Children of Jerusalem are known for their intelligence. Once a person traveling to Jerusalem asked a child how to get to Jerusalem. He said “Do You want to take the short-long path or the long-short path?” The man answered “I’ll take the short-long path.” The Child told him how to go. Traveling down that road, the man encountered a thicket of thorns and thistles. He could go no further. he returned to the junction where he met the boy, He complained “How come you sent me on this path – I was stopped in the middle by thorns and thistles? I couldn’t go futher” The boy responded “You asked me to go on the short-long path. It was a short distance to get there but in the end you had to come back making it take a long time. The long-short is longer in distance but you get there in shorter time.”
Judaism the Long-Short Path
Most religions or ethics are the short-long path. Yes you feel good following your feelings for a while. Yes you are promised heaven to do something relatively easy. Just do A and get a place in heaven. That is the Short path. But it is plagued with thorns and thistles at the end. If you discover the truth only once you get to the next world – its too late to change. You made-up who you are in this world and you remain that way.
But if you take the time to investigate Torah Judaism and see all the challenges it entails and the benefits it provides – you will find the truth in this world and have time to change into the better person you want to be according to Torah.
I’m a Vegetarian. I’m a Vegan. I’m for Animal Rights – Focusing on the Priorities
Every person has a goal, purpose and potential to achieve. It’s true that there are many worthy causes out there. Obviously, one should focus on one main goal – before getting involved in a side goal.
It is good to support animal rights – for the purpose of the Torah Mitzvah of not causing pain to animals (Tzaar Ba’alei Haim). It is good to be a vegetarian – because it is healthy – which is also a Mitzvah (Venishmartem MeOd LeNafshotechem).
Maximizing Your Good – Focusing Your Kindness
In themselves they are good – but when dedicating oneself to a cause – one should ask two questions One – is this the best cause I can be involved with according to Torah? Two – is this my priority right now?
Let’s say a person can be saving humans lives and he is involved with saving animals lives instead – he or she is not maximizing their potential in doing good.
Let’s say a person is involved in BDS – but they could be spending their time saving animals. They are not maximizing their potential.
Let’s say a person is missionizing for another religion – but they could be involved in teaching people about the 7 Noahide laws according to Torah – they are not maximizing their potential.
In a book of R. Shalom Arusch – I think it is called “Garden of Peace for Men” he talks about a person who is learning Torah all day. He is busy teaching Torah and Learning.” Learning Torah is one of the greatest Mitzvot. But this person is not married yet. Being Married is an obligation from the Torah. Having children is another obligation. This person he says is not maximizing his potential and will be held accountable for not getting married and having children because he did not focus on one of the priorities of life and obligations of the Torah.
Focus on your obligations in the Torah. Focus on Maximizing your Good. Focus on making yourself great – to become a greater giver – and you are one step closer to achieving your potential and purpose in life.