19 Shevat 5767, Feb. 7, 2007

Pay attention, open up and allow HaShem to speak His Words of Living Torah directly into your mind and heart...
By HaRav Ariel Bar Tzadok. Copyright (C) 2007 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All rights reserved.

Intelligence is a G-d given gift that enables us to think and use discretion concerning what we choose to believe and what we choose to discount.  Truth is not a subjective factor depending upon your personal point of view.  Some things are real and some things are false regardless of whatever one wishes to believe about them.

Many things are said in the names of many famous people that indeed they never said.  Yet, who would listen to accept these words unless they came from the mouth of someone famous.  The words themselves can be foolish or false, but once they are attributed to someone famous then they become real, true, and take on a life of their own, even though that life is a false one.

Many lies have been perpetuated throughout history, arousing peoples to believe many things by putting never spoken words into the mouths of admired individuals.  This is how falsehood begins and is perpetuated.  This is nothing new. This is exactly what the Serpent did in the Garden of Eden, when he spoke to Eve, and quoted by G-d and said something that G-d allegedly said, that He never did.  Falsehood always attaches itself to authority or to truth in order to disguise itself.  This is why G-d gave us intelligence, so that we can unmask falsehood and learn to discriminate between the truth and the lie. 

There is a difference between the subjective and the objective.  These are just two words used to describe the difference between what may be true for the individual and what is true for everyone.  An opinion is the subjective truth for the individual (or a group).  Fact and reality are the objective truths for everyone, regardless of one’s opinion or personal point of view.

One may hold an opinion about political persuasion, fashion, décor or the like.  One may not hold a mere opinion about something as vital and factual as the laws of nature or for that matters the reality of human behavior.  You may choose whatever color you like to paint your house and consider your choice to be a good one.  You may not however decide to jump off the second (or third) story roof of your house and believe that you will not fall.  This is a bad choice regardless of your opinion of it.

You say, this is clear logic, who would deny it?  Yet, unfortunately, all too many people deny this exact conclusion when applied to other circumstances simply because deception and delusion have become attached to logic and, as a result, intelligence becomes blurred.  In the end all too many people jump off high roofs convinced that they will not fall or that there is no such thing as gravity (as long as they do not believe there is such).  Yet, in the end, they always fall and get severely hurt. 

Moreover, to make matters even worse, as they lay there writhing in pain, they still deny that they fell and many deny that they are in pain.  They arrogantly proclaim their success and the proof of their false believes in spite of the fact that it is clear and evident to anyone with eyes and common sense that their choice led them to miserable, and yet foreseeable consequences. 

In my opinion, they say, I did not fall; in my opinion, they say, I did not break any bones.  Yet, when they try to walk, they cannot; and still they will dismiss this and redefine their pain as something else and attribute their loss (if they even admit it as such) to any other cause, rather than admit that they are wrong.  Regarding these types of people, we say they have eyes but do not see and ears that do not hear.

Intelligence is a G-d given gift.  Yet, in order to receive a gift one must open one’s hands and receive it.  Once in hand, it must be used.  Any gift unused is like not being received in the first place.  We have eyes, we must use them to see, we have ears we must use them to listen.  We have intelligence, we must use it to cultivate discretion.  We must learn the difference between opinion and fact, subjective and objective reality.  We must not allow ourselves the luxury of the listening to the modern day serpents whose only purpose is to confuse us, with the age-old intent of getting us kicked out of the Garden of Eden, which is our communion with Heaven. 

Long ago, our Sages taught us that study is the most important of G-d’s commandments.  Their intent was not to get us to memorize things, but rather to train us how to think, how to approach our world with proper inquiries and necessary precautions.  Study is meant to train the mind.  Repeating by rote is not study. Contemplating, questioning, analyzing, challenging; these are the criteria of study. 

We have received Torah into our hearts; it is the source of our lives, our objective reality.  Yet, we are supposed to contemplate it day and night, thinking about it, using our minds to challenge, analyze and question.  This is how Torah settles into our minds and transforms us into what we are supposed to become, this being rational and intelligent human beings.

Stop being fooled.  When you hear something unverified said in the name of someone famous, even if the claim of verification is made; stop and question it.  Ask, who said this, where did this information come from, has it been verified, if so how was it verified, by whom, when and where?  Every detective knows to ask these questions to get to the bottom of truth.  Detectives who allow their prejudices to cloud their judgment enable criminals to escape and innocent individuals to be charged with crimes they did not commit.  This laziness leads to injustice; injustice leads to imbalance, imbalance leads to a fall, the fall leads to breakage; breakage leads to pain, suffering and all type of harm.

Study Torah, ask questions, be discerning, become detectives, do not accept something just because it has been said in the name of someone we admire.  If it is too good to be true, or too weird to believe; most likely it is a falsehood and not true.  Then again, you never know unless you make a thorough investigation and I emphasis the word ‘thorough.”  This is intelligence and the Way of Heaven on Earth.
Shalom, Ariel Bar Tzadok

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