Hashem created his world with positive and negative energies. This concept is known as “Zeh Le’umas Zeh” . G-d set up his world so that these two energies are in constant conflict with each other. This means that there is always a delicate balance between these two forces and wherever you find one energy, know that on the other side of that coin/equation, exists the same potential energy in the other direction.
The Gemorah tells us that if somebody should report that the Capitol of Esav (Chur) and the Capitol of Yaakov (Yerushalayim) has been built, do not believe him. These two energies are in constant conflict and cannot be mutually dominant at the same time. In order for one to dominate, the other must be suppressed. This is the meaning of Zeh Le’umas Zeh.
One of the biggest evils that assailed our people in the times of Tanach, was the forces of idolatry. Today, in modern times, we have no idea what this concept means. It is indeed a foreign concept to us. I will tell you that the attraction of idol worship, was not a simple desire to bow down to sticks and stones. There existed a deeper attraction to this, which is not the crux of this discussion. Suffice to say, the Jewish people were ensnared in the grip of this powerful energy. The Gemorah tells us that the Anshei Knesses Hagdolah (the holy men of the great assembly), which consisted of 120 of our leaders with many prophets among them (these great people, like Chaggai, Zacharia, Malachi, Chananya, Mishael, Azarya, Ezra, Zerubavel etc.. were the authors of our precious Siddur), got together to beseech Hashem to rid the Jewish people of this evil. They said to Hashem; “We know that you gave us this evil so that we may face it and resist it and in so doing, be blessed with eternal reward. However, we see that we simply cannot vanquish this evil from our midst, so we implore you to please remove it from us. We do not wish to have the trial and tribulation of this evil, nor do we seek any reward for resisting it. Please just take it away from us. The Gemorah tells that a piece of paper fell down from the heavens with the word “Emes – Truth” on it. We know that the signature of Hashem is Emes. G-d was indicating his agreement to the request of our sages and indeed he abolished the attraction to idolatry from our midst. It is for this reason that we do not feel tempted by idolatry today (and certainly not in its previous form).
(Parenthetically, it says in the Gemorah that when our sages saw that Hashem had granted their request, they once again called out to Hashem and begged him to abolish the evils of lust, immorality and adultery, which ensnares our people. However, they understood that were Hashem to abolish it in its entirety, men and women would never feel a healthy attraction for each other and people would not marry! So they asked Hashem to remove only the unhealthy attraction between sexes. The Gemorah says that Hakadosh Baruch Hu did not agree to this request, since G-d does not do things “halfway”. It is for this reason that we continue to battle this evil until today.)
The Vilna Gaon tells us that at the same time that G-d abolished the negative force of idolatry, the positive force of (and capability for) prophecy was also removed from our people! We see from here that G-d always creates things (and sustains things) in a blance. There is always a balance between forces of good and evil and it is our job to stay on the right side of the (same) coin.
Of all of the evil energies that G-d placed into our world, there is one overriding energy that assailed the entire world for many centuries; this was the Theory of Evolution. Today, this theory has been rendered somewhat moot by a culture and society which lives in the moment and lusts after the pleasures of instant gratification. In our modern world, we really don’t care or think much about where we come from. - Give people an ice cream and they feel good! However, way back in time and until not very long ago, this absurdity, stupidity and concept of absolute nonthingness (Theory of Evolution) was the pervading theory of the day. It is really mind boggling how millions of people can look at the complexities of the human body and its millions of components and claim it is the result of an accident! The human eye, with its billions of parts working in complete sync with each other, the human heart, the spleen etc. all accidents!!?? The beauty of nature and G-ds world, attributed to an accident!! How stupid can man be!!
The Pasuk in Iyov asks a question. “Ki yesh Lakesef Motzah….” etc. The Pasuk asks where can silver be found?…and gold?.. The Verse goes on to describe how silver can be found in the mines and gold etc. Then the Pasuk asks the question, ”V’hachochma, Me’ayin Timotzei”? – Where can one find wisdom? However, the holy Mekubalim read this as a statement, rather than a question. “V’hachachma, Me’ayin Timotzei!’ – Wisdom can be found in the Ayin“.
What is the meaning of the term Ayin? The term Ayin connotes something without limitations or boundaries. Ayin, is something which cannot be quantified. We know that everything in the world is subject to boundaries and proper quantification. However, the only thing in the world which is infinite and not subject to any type of confinement or classification, is Hashem our King! Hashem is beyond limitations or boundaries. This is the meaning of Ayin! Ayin, refers to Hashem! “V’hachachma, Me’ayin Timotzei”! – Wisdom can be found in Hakadosh Baruch Hu!
Here we find a tremendous and deep manifestation of the concept and attraction of these two energies; - of positive/negative – good and evil.
The beauty and glory of Hashem, and the emptiness and void of Evolution, are just two sides to the same coin! One is the positive and enduring force of all that is good (our Almighty G-d) and the other (Evolution), is the negative and destructive force which represents the (potential) evil baseness of the human spirit.
Here is where the evolutionists were so successful (over and above the cultures of the various Nations of the world which preached and worshiped all kinds of things. The Greeks worshiped the superiority of the Human body, etc.).
The Theory of Evolution, takes the beauty of the G-d and his existence and the responsibility to be subservient to him – and flips it over on its head and rejects it by claiming the existence of nothing and a responsibilty to nobody! It takes the meaning of “Ayin” – which truthfully points to the existence of an Almighty G-d who is beyond quantification, and flips it over to assert that the word ”Ayin” indicates nothingness – and a world resulting from a total accident!
This theory, is the negative energy which is in direct conflict with the positive energy and knowledge of an Almighty G-d, who creates and sustains the World and everything in it. This is an example of the conflicting energies which represents the concept of “Zeh Le’umas Zeh”.
However, we mentioned earlier that in our modern World, we are not so concerned anymore with the question of where we come from. What are our tools of worship today? What negative energies and forces do we battle against, in our Modern culture and society?
I believe that today, our tools of worship are – fun, games and entertainment! I believe the word ‘worship’, is indeed appropriately applied here. I was once talking with someone and I expressed my opinion that people who gorge themselves with food, do so as a hobby when they are bored. He told me that I was mistaken. He argued that people who eat excessively are actually worshiping their food! Indeed, our society revolves around certain ”idols” and it is the negative forces represented by these idols which we must battle if we are to remain true to our ideals and beliefs.
What is the attraction of these pursuits? I believe the answer is simple. When we engage in these forms of pleasure, we feel as though we are alive!
There is no greater form of personal pleasure than to feel the thrill of your own existence!
During the day, we work to earn our bread. There is no thrill in our mundane and necessary activities. However, at night we seek to unwind and to ‘feel alive’ by engaging in all forms of entertainment.
Indeed, it is no “fun” for us to work in order to make an honest living. This pursuit is necessary and we therefore do not enjoy it as a form of entertainment. However, when we pursue something for no other reason and no other objective other than to simply entertain ourselves, this is where we derive the most enjoyment, since we feel alive!
Chazzal teach us that nightime is a particularly dangerous time for humanity. It is a time when evil and destructive forces are unleashed. The Pasuk alludes to this, when it says “Toshes Choshech, V’hi Laila, Bo Tirmos Kol Chaysei Ya’ar - Darkness descends and it becomes night, and all of the ‘animals’ – forces (of the night) are unleashed”. As a result of these natural forces of evil which are unleashed at night, Chazzal teach us that nightime is a time for sleep, or for learning Torah (since one who learns Torah cannot be harmed). Now here comes Thomas Edison who ‘lit up the night’ with his invention of artificial light! Now we have become like chickens who are forced to lay eggs (at night) and the night is turned into day! We utilize the night in pursuit of all forms of entertainment.
Let us take a moment to analyze the attraction of a novel or a movie. Why do we become so enraptured with and captivated by a good movie? When we watch a movie and see Tom, Dick and Harry shooting at each other and jumping off trains etc., the reality is, there is no Tom, Dick, or Harry! These are simply fictitious characters who enable us to find a release from our reality and to ’enjoy’ life by living vicariously though them! The same thing is true when we get ‘lost’ in a novel of fiction and the like. These trivial pursuits are ultimately fleeting and provide no long term sense of satisfaction. We are simply hiding from the reality of our lives in our momentary distractions. The minute the movie/book is finished, we are thrust right back into the reality of our often difficult cirumstances…which has now been made even more difficult. We begin “chasing our tails” by seeking to fill the ever growing void with the elusive sense of happiness.
The salient point in all of this, is that we feel alive when we are engaged in any type of ‘playing’. It is for this reason that we derive infinite (if not momentary) pleasure, from all forms of fun, games and entertainment! When we do something without an objective, we feel alive. You can pay someone to kick a ball back and forth and he won’t find any enjoyment in it because there is an objective and a job to perform. However, were this same person to engage in a game of soccer for his own personal enjoyment, he can be at it all day (and for no pay) and feel alive!
The beauty of Torah!
Now let’s explore the opposite side of this equation and phenomena. We mentioned earlier, the idea that there are positive and negative energies reflected in all of creation. What is the positive energy counterpart to our quest for satisfaction through the pursuit of emptiness in the form of arts and entertainment?
In the Hebrew language, there is a fabulous word called “Sha’ashua“. Sha’ashua – means “fun” (and the pursuit of having fun). The elusive pursuit of “fun” is categorized by all that we mentioned earlier. Where else do we find the word “Sha’ashua”? We find this in the words of David Hamelech, when he sings to Hashem, “Lulay Sorascha Sha’ashuai”! – Your Torah is my plaything/my fun!
Furthermore, our holy Seforim teach us that before Hashem created the world, he was “Mishtasheia B’atzmo” – He found satisfaction with himself, Kaviyachol and his Torah. (We have absolutely no concept of what this means. Nevertheless, this is what the Seforim tell us..).
We are also taught that Hakadosh Baruch Hu created the world using his holy Torah as its blueprint. The Torah Hakedosha is the blueprint for all of creation. As Chazzal teach us, “Istakel B’oraiso Ubara Alma – Hashem looked into the Torah and created his world.”
There is nothing more precious to Hashem than his Holy Torah! Hakadosh Baruch Hus’ ‘plaything’, kaviyachol, is his precious Torah – and it is within the Torah that we glean the ‘wisdom’ of Hashem! Torah provides us a glimpse into Hakadosh Baruch Hus’ ways – as Moshe Rabbeinu was mispallel to Hashem, “Hodieni es Derachecha, Ve’eydoacha – Show me your ways, so that I may “know you”. To ‘know’ Hakadosh Baruch Hu, is to learn his precious Torah.
Therefore, when we engage in the pursuit of Limud Hatorah, we are literally grabbing hold of Hashem! A person who learns Torah is literally ‘playing’ with Hashems’ ‘playmate’ – and in so doing, he is engaged in the most thrilling expression of life!
There is no greater and more satisfying experience than to feel like we are one with Hashem! Learning Torah, is the conduit by which we can achieve true and lasting happiness and “fun” in this world! This, is the positive energy that can replace the negative pull of meaningless and empty pursuits of games and entertainment.
Chazzal promise us that we can find every bit of joy which life has to offer in the pursuit of Limud Hatorah. Chazzal tell us, “Ta’amu Ur’eu Ki Tov Hashem – Taste these words of Torah and see how delicious and good it is for you”! All we need to do is to develop a taste for the Torah Hakedosha and we will experience the most intense and lasting sense of pleasure in this world!
Finally, we sometimes tell ourselves that there is no point for us to learn an isolated Daf Gemorah or Halacha. We imagine that ’success’ in Torah is if we become a big Rabbi or Rosh Yeshiva. We convince ourselves that unless there is an ultimate goal and objective in mind, we will not accomplish much with our Limud Hatorah.
This is a HUGE mistake.
We learned earlier that Hakadosh Baruch Hu is “Mishtasheia” with his Torah – that Hashem loves learning Torah! Let’s ask ourselves, why does Hashem learn Torah? Does Hashem learn Torah because he desires to become a big Rosh Yeshiva?! Of course not!!
Hashem is simply ‘playing’! Hashem is reveling in the beauty and enjoyment of his precious Torah! The same is true for us. To learn Torah Lishma in any measure, is to literally grab hold of Hashem and there is no greater pleasure than this in the entire world!
Indeed, we find that we are alive when we engage in ‘playing’ with Hashems’ Torah and for no other reason or objective other than to be close to our Creator!
<Heard From Rav Shimshon Pincus>
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