Friday, July 07, 2006

Is it worth it to us to have been created?

In the Gemora it says " . . . They counted (or voted) and concluded it would be better for man to have not been created than to have been created. Now that he is created, let him take charge of his actions."

How do you reconcile this Gemora with the Chazal that says "everything Hashem does is for the good" (Kol d'avdim min shamaya l'tav)? And since "against your will were you created", G-d is responsible. If so, how could we say it would have been better for you had G-d treated you differently?

Or even better: What about the posuk "And Hashem saw all He created and it was very good"? That includes the creation of man too.

The answer to all this is clear according to the Maharsha. He says there that all the Gemora means is that they "counted" the Mitzvos Aseh and Lo Saaseh, and found that there are more Lo Saasehs, which means that the odds of success are against a person when he is born, since there are more things that will cause him to be punished than give him reward.

However, that is why the Gemora continues "and now that he is created let him control his actions," which means that a person was given a gift from Hashem that can help him overcome the odds, namely, Free Will, which allows him to live in the world not randomly according to the odds, but according to how he wants to live.

So all the Gemora means is that the "count" of Mitzvos puts him at a disadvantage - which can be overcome by a separate advantage, i.e. free will. However, when you consider all the advantages and disadvantages, that is, his ability to overcome the odds, then it is great for him that he was created.

It's not selfish to work for Olam Habah. The Yismach Moshe says since G-d wants you to get Olam Habah, then by you doing so, you are fulfilling the will of Hashem.

"For Hashem's sake" does not mean to benefit Hashem - chas vsholom - He does not benefit from our Mitzvos. It means, rather, to do Mitzvos in order to fulfill Hashem's will. And Hashem's will is that we should get Olam Habah. Therefore, doing Mitzvos for Hashem's sake means that we have in mind that the reason we want to go to Olam Habah is because Hashem desires that.

Thus, the ultimate goal of Hashem - for us to go to Olam Habah - and the ultimate goal of ours - to do Mitzvos for Hashem's sake, go hand in hand.

The highest level is to do Mitzvos lishmah. Doing Mitzvos because you want the reward is also valid, and a high level, but just not as high as lishmah. The ultimate goal is to do mitzvos lishmah.

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What makes creating the world "good"? In order for that to be true, someone would have already created some framework for good and bad that would define creating the world as "good”, where did this framework come from?
We are mixing up two definitions of "good". When we say G-d wanted to do "good" and so He created the world we do not mean good as opposed to bad, as in morals or values. We mean good as in desirable. G-d wanted to bestow upon others that which would be desirable to them. And since what G-d would give to His creations by creating them would be a connection to Him, that by definition is desirable. G-d is Perfect, and by definition perfection is a desirable state, certainly more desirable than non-existence, but since there can be only one perfect being, G-d arranged a plan whereby others would have a desirable state of perfection a desirable state of perfection by being connected to Him.

G-d did this not because He had to in order to fulfill some kind of obligation, or because He had to "pander" to some kind of value system, but simply because it makes others happy.

So if G-d had bestowed money or some other kind of benefit on people, you would have a right to ask why is it that creating people and giving them things is something that would make G-d decide to do it, but because what G-d is giving is a connection to Himself, you have your answer right there: G-d's existence is itself perfect, meaning it is desirable, which itself creates the framework for the definition of desirability.

A beneficial, desirable prize - something people would want - already existed before the world, namely, G-d's state of existence. All G-d did was allow people to benefit from it.

If, for instance, you had the ability to put your son in a stitch where he can either (a) make a billion dollars or (b) lose $20, worst case scenario, you would be remiss in your duties as a father NOT to make him do it.

So too, we must understand, the reward for our Mitzvos - even a single Mitzvah - is soooo great that it justifies even a lifetime of doing aveiros. It’s not a question of "success" or "failure", which are black-and-white terms - it’s a question of gain vs. loss. We gain some, and we lose some. As long as do one Mitzvah on this world, your gain makes it worth your trip here, regardless of what else happens to you. If your Mitzvos count - meaning, if you are a maamin and believe in the Torah then you have accomplished so much that any price you had to pay for that mitzvah is worth it.

Of course, it would be much more pleasurable for you if you didn't have to pay such a high price.

So if Hashem created you and put you on this world, that means He knows that it is worth it for you to be here. "Risks" and all.

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The prohibition of delving into pre-creation events is not because we aren’t supposed to have questions but because we are unable to have answers. We are unable to comprehend anything outside of time and space and surely not what it was like before the word was created (indeed, there no "it" to be like anything), and chazal are telling us that if you go into this topic, you’ll end up knowing less than you do now, not more, because you will invariably misunderstand whatever it is you find. But where answers are available, they are always a good thing, not a bad thing.

But where answers are available, The Rishonim write that it makes no sense that Hashem would put us in this world, give us brains and then obligate us to be confused and doubtful. If you have no questions, that’s one thing; but if you do, you should get the answers. It is a Mitzvah to do so.

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