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TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE

by Yonoson Blumenthal    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

Man was created to choose and do that which is right and good. In order to make the choice an equal one, Hashem created evil and bad to test us. These tests range from the more obvious and basic to the more spiritual and metaphysical and by definition less obvious.

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Man was created to choose and do that which is right and good. In order to make the choice an equal one, Hashem created evil and bad to test us. These tests range from the more obvious and basic to the more spiritual and metaphysical and by definition less obvious. The Torah portion commands, loosely translated, ";Do not choose to follow the perversions of the base society surrounding you" (Deuteronomy 18:9). This test is obvious (although, the choice remains difficult). The Torah continues, "Do not seek methods of foretelling the future or choosing a course of action which involves tapping and channeling real powers of evil through sorcerers, charmers, and the like" (ibid. 18:10-11). Also, after reflection, seemingly obvious. The section then concludes, "Let your trust be solely in Hashem." Also seemingly obvious.

Let us examine this last positive commandment to trust in Hashem. Hashem is commanding us to act responsibly, fulfill our obligation, and live up to our aspirations. Yet at the same time we must recognize that our ability to perform and achieve comes from Him. However, if the objective is to achieve our goal, why then do the verses prohibit forms of sorcery which can be used to determine future and present courses of action? If permitted to use them, would we not know for certain our obligations and goals and how to achieve them?

Hashem is teaching us, "Don't wish to be in full control." By using the aforementioned methods of "fortune-telling", a person is stating, "I can be in full control of my destiny. I know what's going to happen, how it will happen, and when it will happen." Instead, let us give Hashem some space. After all, who gives us good health? Who gives life and intellect, not to mention sanity? One small chemical misbalance can cause a person's dreams and prestige to shatter and dissipate. Who is really in charge? Only after facing the facts and struggling to answer these questions for ourselves do we begin to embark on the "obvious" positive commandment to trust and be in touch with Hashem.

When seemingly bad or trying situations arise, let us choose to see and search for the good in them. Let the cup be half full! It's only a test. After all, it is Hashem Himself of whom we are speaking. The proud builder of the Model-T Ford knows exactly how to iron out all the quirks to have it run smoothly. The Creator of Man knows and wants what is truly best for us. Trust Hashem. He will and does support us.

Trust is the practical application of belief. Trust is the affirmative action that results from knowing Hashem and building a relationship with Him as a sincere and dedicated Jew, as set out in His "owners manual" (i.e. the Torah) and as propagated by the early prophets and scholars throughout the ages.

This is the meaning of being in touch with and "trusting solely in Hashem". Let us all address the aforementioned questions and begin to make a little more room in our hearts for Hashem.

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Yonoson Blumenthal, who hails from Atlanta, is presently studying in Baltimore at Ner Israel Rabbinical College.

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