Presidency Become a Dictatorship?
Distance yourself from a bad neighbor; and do not bond with a degenerate person; and do not abandon [the expectation of] difficulties. This is one of the classic debates in the history of philosophy and religion. The non-Jewish concept of Original Sin, for instance, assumes the latter, i.
By contrast, the Talmud teaches: The Torah is centered on the idea that the human being is endowed with a deposit of divinity 1 and made in "God's image.
In other words, side-by-side with this natural spirituality i. This impulse may be very strong and capable of overcoming the good to a great extent, but not enough to supplant and entirely eclipse the original state in which the human being was created, namely "in the Divine Image.
This misconception about the Torah stance on human nature is pervasive. Famed mythologist Joseph Campbell, for instance, declared in his books and to millions of viewers on television that the Bible emphasizes the "castration" of human nature.
According to him, by declaring that God came down on Sinai and gave humanity laws and statutes, the outlook of the Bible demonstrates that it sees human nature as inherently evil.
Otherwise, why else would the Deity feel the need to impose laws that repress human nature? This, Campbell claimed, was one of the most destructive philosophies Western Civilization had ever imbibed.
It resulted, according to him, in the West's history of war, rape, pillage, domination, etc. Unfortunately, Campbell seems to have confused "castration" with "circumcision. Nature -- including human nature -- cannot be trusted if it is unchecked.
The Torah does indeed display a certain degree of mistrust toward nature. Generally, nature -- including human nature -- cannot be trusted if it is unchecked.
Like the ground that was cursed after Adam's sin, it will grow "thorns and thistles" if it remains uncultivated. However, this doesn't mean to imply that nature is inherently evil and therefore we must seek to "castrate" it. To the contrary, just as thorn and thistles can be cleared to allow the earth to give forth fruit, the very idea of circumcision implies that nature is inherently good; it's just that it has a "foreskin" around it.
It has something superficial and external to it that does not allow the true creative pulse within to manifest itself in a fully positive way. The spiritual may have certain advantages over the physical, but the physical, too, after all is said and done, is a creation of God just the same.
It can even be formed into a Temple, a "Dwelling for the Divine Presence. Castration implies the earthly potential is inherently evil and must be destroyed. Circumcision -- the Torah's true stance -- implies the natural state is essentially good.
Castrate -- and the good as well as the bad is eliminated. Circumcise -- and the inherent good will shine. Given this introduction we can now turn to the simple profundity of Nitai HaArbeli's above teaching. That's why the main thing for moral and spiritual self-improvement is withdrawal from negative influences.
Avoiding the negative, including the negative impulse within your own being, 3 clears the path for our inherent goodness. By contrast, Yehoshua ben Perachiyah, in the previous Mishnahemphasized the positive: He agrees with the essential goodness of man, and that "evil" is only caused by the environment one is raised in, but that it's not enough to clear out the "thorns and thistles" of negative influences and impulses.
One has to create and nurture a counterforce, an impulse for good -- a habit-reinforced instinct to do good -- to repulse the impulse to do bad. This would seem to support the view of Nitai HaArbeli: It's like a person kicking mud to this side and that but never getting out of the mud.
Therefore, don't necessarily wait to rid yourself of evil before pursuing good. Do the good, bypass the evil temporarily, and deal with it at a later date after you've built up a momentum for the good.
Nevertheless, Nitai HaArbeli thinks otherwise.
In the Talmud one who tries to do something good without first ridding himself of the evil is likened to a person immersing in a ritual bath to cleanse himself of spiritual impurity while holding a rodent something that causes spiritual impurity.
Doing good without first ridding oneself of the bad inhibits the most important tool in the struggle to attain spiritual excellence and wholeness:American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation [Jon Meacham] on tranceformingnlp.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.
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