The fact that life in this world exists in a way where the tangible Presence of Hashem is covered from the eyes of man does not decisively determine that man will act in the way of denial; man has the free and equal choice whether to act according to what his eyes see or according to what his heart knows. He can follow his heart’s knowledge in contradiction to what his eyes see; or he can follow what his eyes see in contradiction to what his heart knows.
What takes place when man makes ‘the right choice’ and follows his heart-knowledge, can be termed in a sense as “intellectual honesty”. Once he has come to know in his heart that Hashem Exists (assuming he has verified for himself the first axiom) and is able to follow through honestly and pattern his actions to be consistent with that which his heart knows even though his eyes don’t see, is really him being honest with himself.
However, what takes place when man makes ‘the wrong choice’ and follows only what his eyes see, is that he makes use of a totally new and unnatural orientation that exists only for the purpose of giving man a true free choice in this world: the ability to cover-up within himself the truth that his heart has already come to know. He is then not being “intellectually honest” with himself.
“Haughtiness” versus “Humility”
The decision to make use of this “new” (yet false) reality – the ability to act differently than one’s own heart knowledge – is called “haughtiness” (in Hebrew: anavah). When one acts with humility, he is ‘big enough’ to accept the fact that others have helped him to get to where he is and that others do have value, and he can therefore respect and pay tribute to them. He is able to live honestly with what he knows in his heart is true: that there is more to reality than just taking for himself.
Throughout each person’s life, Hashem’s sends clear “messages” through the events which transpire in a person’s life, to help him acknowledge the true reality. These messages awaken his heart with the realization that an All-inclusive, All-powerful and Compassionate Creator really does exist.
Understandably, these messages can be a source of discomfort for one who has chosen a path of haughtiness, since these messages are a contradiction to following that which he sees with his eyes. Since Hashem’s tangible Presence is hidden from his eyes, man is faced with the choice of deciphering the reality either according to what his eyes see or according to what his heart knows.
Being that the ultimate purpose of life in this world is that man himself – and only man – should make the choice of how he relates to Hashem, it is he who needs to decide whether he will choose to be haughty and to ignore the messages to his heart – which indicate the Existence of an Infinite and Compassionate Creator, or whether he will choose to act with humility and listen to the messages of his own heart.
When a person chooses to go on the path of humility he recognizes the importance of those outside of himself and is thus moving in the direction of “giving” – which is our purpose in life – thus bringing more tikun (fixing) and correction to the entire world.
When a person chooses to go on the path of haughtiness and does not recognize the importance of anyone outside himself, he is thus moving in a direction of “taking” – the opposite of the purpose in creation – thus bringing more kilkul (ruining) and imbalance to the entire world.
Being Aware of the Choice
This has been the main fulcrum choice of man throughout the generations. Now that man is “in the driver’s seat” of this world, will he be a “giver” and build his heart-connection and relationship with Hashem – thus going on to “become one” with Hashem and meriting to experience all the Good? Or will he be a “taker” and ignore his heart-connection and relationship with Hashem – thus undermining the whole purpose of why his soul had come to this world in the first place.
It is very likely that most all Jewish souls would choose to be honest with their heartfelt knowledge – if only they would be aware in a clear way of what their choice really is.
Unfortunately today, most Jewish souls don’t even get to the point of their real choice, because so much has been forgotten or become confused over the course of this treacherously long exile that they are not even aware of many of the axioms they live by and what is the real challenge and choice to make in their lives.
Perhaps the major challenge facing us today is the need to clarify the purpose of our lives and the axioms we live by, so that we not end up defaulting to living a life that stems simply from a lack of knowledge as to what our goal in life is.
Doing the ‘job’ that we have to do here, boils down to simply following through in action on what a person has already verified in his own heart, rather than ignoring his own heart’s knowledge and defaulting to act according to what his eyes see.
Adapted from “It’s All for the Good” by Rabbi Nachum Chaimowitz. Available atIsrael Book Shop Publications