Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The Power of Choice - Part 2

וְהֻגַּד לְךָ וְשָׁמָעְתָּ וְדָרַשְׁתָּ הֵיטֵב וְהִנֵּה אֱמֶת נָכוֹן הַדָּבָר נֶעֶשְׂתָה הַתּוֹעֵבָה הַזֹּאת בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל:

"And it will be told to you, and you will hear it, and investigate thoroughly, and behold, the matter coincides; this abomination has been perpetrated in Israel."

In last weeks Parsha the Torah lays down the law of capitol punishment and all corporal punishments.
The transgression must be investigated thoroughly and vigorously before meting out punishment.
One of the most perplexing requirements of corporal punishment is the need for the guilty party to be aware of the possible punishment before committing the act. The two witnesses must inform the suspect that if he/she goes ahead with the act then he/she will be liable to get the death penalty, lashes or whatever the penalty might be.
Why is that?
Why should that be necessary?

We see from here this idea that true freedom of choice can only exist if we are fully aware and accepting of consequences and responsibilities before we make the choice.
The Torah wants to make sure that the suspect was fully FREE when he or she committed the act.

When we run from consequence and responsibility and don't own our actions, we start accumulating debt of reality, which only grows and grows with time until we look for ways to escape by acting in ways that just exasperate the debt until we've completely lost our freedom.
So only when someone decides to do something while being fully aware of the consequences, and does it anyhow fully accepting those consequences, can he/she be considered guilty of transgressing with their full free will.

Of all the millions of creatures on our planet only one species has freedom of choice. Animals rely on instinct.

I believe there are 2 types of choices people make.

1. Logical Choices.

2. Passionate (sometimes irrational) Choices. This is usually based on love or faith.

Here's an example.
Someone is confronted with the possibility of infidelity and doesn't act on it for one of 2 reasons.
1. He might get caught, or feel guilty and it's just not worth it. That's a logical choice.
2. He loves his wife. This is a passionate reason.

Someone has an opportunity to steal.
1. He might get caught, or he'll feel bad about it later. Logical.
2. He loves humanity too much to steal from another human being. Passionate and totally irrational.

If you think about it, logical choice is really just advanced instinct.
A squirrel sees a car coming and runs back toward the curb, while a human has intelligence, so he knows not to step off the curb when the light is red. That's an intelligence difference not a Choice difference. They're both making the same choices just with different intelligence of the situation.

When it comes to religion, there are 2 reasons why someone might choose.

One is Logical.
Like those neatly packaged videos that fit the Torah into nice little motivational sound bytes so that it'll look all nice on your moral mantle.

Or Passionate.
That is when you internalize the idea of the Divine deep inside of you so that even the most uncomfortable passages of Gods law awaken a fervent desire to fulfill the Divine will.

The more irrational the greater this power of choice.
This is what makes us human and sets us apart from all other species n earth.

The Power to Choose which is based on PASSION and not limited to logic or any constraints is what lifts us from an animal like existence.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Passionate choices can be deadly..

September 07, 2011 8:24 PM  
Anonymous DavidOnTheLake said...

Oh passionate choices can absolutely be terribly destructive.

But they're still HUMAN choices...and humans can choose either way..

September 07, 2011 11:20 PM  

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