KosherTorah School for Biblical, Judaic & Spiritual Studies

The Wisdom in Work

by Ariel B Tadok
Copyright © 2015 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All rights reserved.

We all know the wise wisdom of Solomon who we can paraphrase as saying, that there is a time and place for all things under Heaven. Yes, smart words indeed. But how many of us are smart enough to recognize what are the right things, and when are right times, and even more so, when to put the two together?

If we could indeed know what is the right thing to do, and at the right time, think about how many problems we would solve, even before said problems would even be created. If only we had the wisdom of Solomon to figure all this out.

We all know that we are not as wise as Solomon. We all know, as we say in the vernacular, that we screw things up, more often than any of us would like to admit. I don't know if it is humanly possible not to make mistakes. But one thing I do know for sure is that just because we make a mistake does not mean that we have to repeat it.

We are smart enough to recognize when we screw up. Our problem arises when it comes time to be honest, and to admit our mistakes, and then to make the necessary efforts to fix that which we have messed up. It is all too common, and easy, for one to deny making the mess one has made, and thus to avoid responsibility, and the work, of having to clean it up.

When we allow messes to pile up, without cleaning them up, we eventually find such an overwhelming pile of trash, that it becomes impossible to fix, to repair, or to clean up. When we find ourselves surrounded, sinking in a mess of our own making, one which is beyond our ability to clean up, we have no other choice than to act radically for the sake of self preservation. Yet again, a mess maker only knows how to make more messes. The mess maker does not know how to clean up, to take responsibility, and to make the efforts to make matters right. So what desperate action can the mess maker take to help extricate himself/herself from one's self-made mess?

I know you're looking for my wise answer to the dilemma. But, unfortunately, I don't think I have one. After all, I am not Solomon, and I certainly do not have his wisdom. Yet, the little wisdom that I do have, this I can share. Maybe it can help.

There is a difference between screwing up intentionally, and screwing up by accident. We might have the best of intentions, but we need more than good intentions to implement a good plan, or to make a wise choice. Having one's heart in the right place is all well and good. But one needs to have one's head also in the right place. Then one's head, and one's heart must be aligned with one another so that the individual acts upon well thought-out conviction, as opposed to just a random acting out of spontaneous emotion.

Now, there is nothing wrong with emotions. They make our world what it is. But just as the physical heart is lower in the body than the head, so too must the emotions, associated with the heart, be subservient to one's clear, and rational thinking. It is OK to feel, and it is OK to think, but it is best when our thoughts, and our heart are actually one and united, directing us wisely, passionately, and intelligently towards a proper course of action.

Sometimes we act with passion, and the outcome can be good. Then again, sometimes, usually most times, when we act out of passion without clear forethought, we end up in a real big mess. It is always nice if God were to intervene from Heaven to fix that which we have broken, but anyone with any experience in life knows that God very rarely intervenes at all in any way that violates the natural order.

In almost every case, God's word to us is simple, “you broke it, you fix it.” When we pray and complain that we do not know how to fix what we have broken, God responds and says, “read My Torah, and you'll learn therein what you need to know.” Our prayer dialog continues, and we ask God, “couldn't you just fix this yourself, and clean up my mess?” God in return answers, “No, I gave you instructions how not to make a mess, and I have already laid out instruction how messes are to be cleaned up. Now go follow the instructions that I have already given you!”

This dialog is the wisdom that I can share with you. Some might not consider it very compassionate, then again, others might recognize the profound compassion herein. It is God's Will for us not to screw up. It is God's Will for us to unscrew that which we have screwed up. It is God's Will for us to be honest with ourselves, and to take responsibility for ourselves.

So many of us do not want to hear this. So many of us desperately want to ignore this, and instead believe that God is a magical fairy god-father, who with a wave of his magic wand, will make all our troubles just disappear. Yeah right! No such magic exists!

Torah is not about magic, it is about hard work. That is why Torah is called a yoke. A yoke is a heavy burden placed on a work animal. Well, we are all work animals, and life itself is the yoke that each of us must bear. Complaining about it doesn't make it better. Accepting it, and getting the work done does make things better, much better. More than this, when we finish our work, we can look back at it with a great sense of accomplishment.

I know that for many w-o-r-k is a negative four-letter word, but this attitude only indicates the level of mess such a believer has fallen into. In the real world, things are made by hard work, not easy magic. This is the way of God, and one of the fundamental teachings of Jewish “mysticism,” the Kabbalah.

In Kabbalah, our physical universe is called Olam HaAsiyah, the world of action. The way this universe of ours is united with Heaven, is by our actions, and our hard work. We have no greater purpose than to bring Heaven down to Earth, and this is the work that Torah mandates for us to accomplish.

We human beings are people with purpose. We have meaning, and we have goals. Sometimes we forget these things. Yet, when we do forget them we most always have to face the consequences of our forgetfulness.

Actions speak louder than words. Wise, thought-out actions speak out even louder. Wise, though-out action, fired by the passion of a devoted heart, speaks out the loudest of all. Getting to this place is one of our most important goals.

The right time, the right place, the right action, how great it can be for us all to do the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, and for the right reasons. I only wish that I had a magical formula to make this all work out, but like I said, Torah is about work, not magic.

We have to work hard to make this so, and indeed, if we do work hard, then we can indeed figure out what is the right thing to do at the right time, in the right way, with the right conviction.

Work. God worked for “six” metaphorical days to make world, and to make us. We too have to work, and step by step, with proper rest in between steps, we can fix our personal worlds, our individual lives. Life is the Way. Torah is the signpost. A happy and healthy life is the goal.


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