On the Human Subhuman and
the Spiritual Living Dead
Rabbi Yehoishophot OliverHashem urges us: “See, I have set before you today life and goodness, death and evil” (Devarim 30:15).
When the Torah urges us to choose “life and goodness” and not “death and evil,” it is not coming to dismiss a materialistic lifestyle—never mind a sinful lifestyle. What rational person would think that we exist in this world in order to pursue wealth and honor, and indulge our animalistic urges? We are not animals—the wondrous intellect that Hashem implanted in us makes it patently obvious how superior we are to animals. Did He then give us intellect so that we could indulge in even more pleasures than the animals, outdoing the animals in our depraved lusts?!
One who lives such a life, one in which his mind is enslaved to his animalistic desires, degrades himself to the level of an animal, and is essentially subhuman. He fails to consider that if he was supposed to devote his life to pursuing animalistic pleasures, Hashem would not have given him an intellect that enables him to transcend his Bestial Soul and submit to the will of Hashem.
Rather, when we use the intellect with which we have been blessed, we will naturally come to realize that the world and everything in it does not exist for our self-gratification, but for a higher purpose—to serve Hashem. Thus, true life is only life that revolves around the spiritual.
If so, what is Hashem coming to tell us by urging us to choose life and goodness and avoid death and evil?
We are talking about a more insidious evil here, one that plagues someone who is fully frum. A Jew could live a life of Torah and Mitzvos, but lack interest and enthusiasm, to the point that what is in fact an awesome privilege seems like an onerous burden. Concerning this the Torah tells him: Although you are fulfilling the letter of the law—and so in a certain sense, you are living a spiritual life—with all due respect, this is a spiritual life that is dead. Choose “life and goodness”—choose to live in a way that Torah and Mitzvos excite and inspire you. And then you will be truly alive.
Based on the Previous Rebbe’s Sefer HaMa’amarim 5700, p. 90.
Also, see this article.
Also, see this article.
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