Straight Talk Parshat Vayishlach: The Path of Most Resistance
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Vayishlach(Genesis 32:4-36:43)

The Path of Most Resistance

It is interesting that Islam means submission to God, whereas Yisrael, the name of the Jewish people, means quite the opposite -- doing battle with God. Judaism believes that we are not in this world to be mindless robots. We are not here to surrender our free will to an omnipotent Being. On the contrary, we are here to be independent of that Being. We are here to struggle, to choose, to battle with ourselves for an understanding of truth. And when that truth is hard to accept, to battle even with God himself.

When God tells Abraham that he is going to destroy Sodom, Abraham fights to save the city. When God tells Moses that He is going to destroy the Jewish people, Moses also fights. And it's not just, "Please God, be nice and don't do it." It's, "How could You call yourself ‘just' if you do such a thing? Do You want the Egyptians to say that You brought the Jews out of Egypt for evil purposes -- so that You could destroy them in the desert?!" It's a serious argument.

The bottom line is that standing up for what you believe to be right means even standing up to God if you believe He's doing something wrong. It means taking a stand, even if no one, not even God himself, is standing with you. It takes a great deal of courage to do this, and it's so much easier to have a religion in which God does the telling and you do the doing -- no questions asked.

But, as I've often said before, if it's the simple life you are looking for, then don't even dream of Judaism. It's the path of most resistance. If you're looking to be a zombie, look elsewhere. Judaism wants you to think for yourself and stand by what you know. It's difficult and it's challenging -- but it's the most effective path to spiritual enlightenment. The path of most resistance... but equally that of deepest accomplishment.

 

Published: September 22, 2007

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Visitor Comments: 8

(8) Anonymous, December 3, 2009 3:42 AM

Who are we to question hashem

I realize that this is not the concept you were trying to impart, but who are we to question hashem? Don't you think that as a result of people quesitoning hashem we now have the conservative and reform movesments. What comes next?

(7) Sara J, November 26, 2009 1:16 AM

we do submit to the authority of our gedolim

if they say right- don't say left...

(6) Susannah Garbutt, November 23, 2007 9:51 AM

question everything

Being brought up as Christian, we fell somewhere between submission and 'fighting' or doing battle with God. However, what they tried to tell us was that if we did not understand something about life or God's teachings, we had to accept it (blindly) in faith. I disagree - we were given brains by God and we are expected to use them to help ourselves and the world. Knowledge is power and 'the truth shall set you free' - also 'seek and you will find'. Blind faith is not good, but a means to keep 'the flock' docile and easier to manage, eg Karl Marx and religion being 'the opiate of the masses'. However the road is a long and winding path and one look up at the galaxies in the night sky is proof that our intelligence is extremely limited compared to the Creator - to keep these two concepts in balance would perhaps be the best way of life.

(5) Anonymous, November 22, 2007 12:16 AM

dark night if the soul

for many years i have struggled with what I refer to as my " dark night of my soul". Finding myself through Judaism and Aish have helped me and upon reading this I feel consumed with a relief as I felt I had also been fighting with G-d and against all the norms expected of me, and I felt lousy. Thankyou everyone for sharing it helps.I

(4) Cathy, November 19, 2007 6:38 PM

Life is a classroom.

We must ask ourselves:
Why did God say that He was going to destroy Sodom? Why did God say to Moses that He would destroy the Jewish people? Because God enabled Moses to lead the people out of Egypt, did that give them license to engage in idolatry, hatred, etc? How can we expect to have it both ways?

Our trademark as humans is that we think we know it all (e.g. Adam and Eve). But we fail to realize that because we are human our perspective is very limited - we are unable to see ALL of reality, and we have no conception of the interplay that occurs within the elements as a result of the thoughts that we think and the actions that we perform.

So we (the human race) go through major upheavals on a regular basis, but the fundamental lessons are not learned. And so we keep spinning along the same trajectory until we reach the point of critical mass, and everything goes bust.

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