GOOD MORNING! Every person in this world is seeking pleasure. It is what motivates us. The problem is not that people seek pleasure. The Almighty created the world for our pleasure. The problem is that people are not aware that there is an hierarchy of pleasures and that there are counterfeit pleasures.
We often settle for lower levels of pleasures because we are not aware of what pleasure truly is or the higher levels of pleasures. It's like going into an ice cream store and ordering plain vanilla every time because one never heard of a Banana Split -- three types of ice cream, two different coverings (hot fudge or caramel), whipping cream, sprinkles and ... a cherry on top.
Like all intelligent discussions, we must first start with a definition. Pleasure is the energy one derives from something that helps him have the power to grow, improve. There are different levels of pleasure -- each defined by its own currency (what it takes to acquire the pleasure) and each with its own counterfeits. There is no exchange rate between levels of pleasure.
If you ask a person, "What is the opposite of pain?" he usually responds, "Pleasure." Wrong! The opposite of pain is absence of pain -- or comfort. To equate comfort with pleasure is the definition of decadence.
Pain is often the price one pays for pleasure. Whatever you have that you value, you value it more according to the effort, the trials and tribulations, the pain to acquire it. A "self-made" millionaire enjoys his money and values it more than the individual who inherits wealth. To succeed in the pursuit of pleasure, you have to focus on the goal and the pleasure of the effort you make to achieve it.
What are the Levels of Pleasure? (based on Sefer HaChinuch, re: commandment of "Love of God")
Fifth Class Pleasure -- physical and material pleasure. Good food, nice clothes, comfortable home, pleasant music, beautiful scenery. This includes anything that involves the "five senses."
Fourth Class Pleasure -- Love. No amount of 5th class pleasure can buy even one unit of love. Would you accept 25 million dollars in exchange for one of your children? People will sell everything they own and go into debt to save the life of a child. They'll give up all 5th Level Pleasures for 4th Level Pleasure.
Third Class Pleasure -- being good and finding meaning. A person who is willing to give up everything he owns for 4th class pleasure will forego the pleasure of his family -- for a cause. In W.W.II people lied their way into the army knowing they were leaving their family for years and even possibly dying. Why? To save the world for humanity. To destroy the evil scourge. To make a difference in the world.
If you don't know what you are willing to die for, then you haven't begun to live. Otherwise, you are merely playing a game. If you don't have meaning in your life, then all the physical enjoyments, the beautiful vacations and even the wonderful spouse and children, won't prevent you from feeling that something is missing.
Second Class Pleasure -- the power of creativity, of perfecting the world, through wisdom, into an utopia. It's the pleasure of being aware of how much more there is to life.
Why is creativity such a thrill? Because it touches the essence of God. The ultimate expression of creativity was God's creation of the world. He made something from absolutely nothing. Only an Infinite Being can do that. Expressing our own creativity is a taste of that power.
First Class Pleasure -- No human being is totally satisfied unless s/he's in touch with the Transcendental Dimension. When all is said and done, what we each seek is to reach out of this finite world and connect with the Infinite. To become one with God.
Awe is the experience of merging our small, relatively insignificant selves with something much greater. We break beyond our own limitations and connect in unity with God. First class pleasure is incomparable to any other experience. Nothing finite, nothing bound up in this world, can compare to the Infinite.
In order to connect with God, you have to learn to appreciate all the good that He has done for you. That means giving up the illusion that you alone are responsible for your achievements. It's all a gift from God. If you make the effort to appreciate the gifts God has bestowed upon you, then you'll have such a keen awareness of God's presence that everything you do is accompanied by a sense of His love and guidance. You'll be overwhelmed above and beyond any other pleasure possible.
There is much more to say about acquiring pleasure in life. Go to our webpage, Aish.com, and in the Search box, type "pleasure." Check out "5 Levels of Pleasure" by Rabbi Weinberg.
Kedoshim, Leviticus 19:1 - 20:27
This is the portion that invokes the Jewish people to be holy! It then proceeds with the spiritual directions on how to achieve holiness, closeness to the Almighty. Within it lie the secrets and the prescription for Jewish continuity. If any group of people is to survive as an entity, it must have common values and goals -- a direction and a meaning. By analyzing this portion we can learn much about our personal and national destiny. It is truly a "must read!"
Some of the mitzvot: Revere your parents, observe Shabbat, no idol worship, gifts to the poor, deal honestly, love your fellow Jew, refrain from immoral sexual relationships, honor old people, love the proselyte, don't engage in sorcery or superstition, do not pervert justice, observe kashruth and more. The portion ends, "You shall observe all My decrees and ordinances ... you shall be holy ... I have separated you from the peoples to be Mine."
* * *
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measure of length, in weight, or in measures of content. Just scales, just weights and a just Ephah (a dry measure) and a just Hin (a liquid measure) shall you have" (Lev. 19:35-36).
The Torah forbids us to deceive both Jews and non-Jews when measuring or weighing (Choshen Mishpot 231:1; Chinuch 258). Furthermore, it is the fulfillment of a positive commandment to weigh and measure accurately (Chinuch 259).
The Chofetz Chaim wrote that the Torah enumerated scales, weights, ephah and hin to stress the severity of this prohibition; every type of deception being explicitly prohibited. A person must be very careful to ensure that whenever he sells something, he gives the customer the correct amount.
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Life is not about finding yourself,
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Rabbi Kalman Packouz
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