Wednesday, February 8, 2012

People Who Need People

I was reading William Dietrich's Napoleon's Pyramids (a humorous espionage novel), and a passage jumped out at me. It is a fictionalized conversation with Benjamin Franklin.
"Too many humans will gladly trade rational world for a superstitious one if it calms their fears, gives them status, or gains them an advantage over their fellows. People are always afraid to think. And alas, Ethan, integrity is always a prisoner of vanity, and common sense is easily eclipsed by greed."
It made me recall a letter Rav Steinman released in 2009. One of the matters he addressed was how that many Jews nowadays have abandoned bein adam l'chaveiro, and involve themselves strictly in bein adam l'Makom. Mindlessly mistreating the people around us, we focus on how to "appease" God.

Sometimes I find the reactions of people towards mitzvos to be that of pagan worship; if something is not done just so, then a lightning bolt will hit us. I have known people to freak out about the slightest of things, like having a vachtnact on a Friday night (since a Shabbos bris is considered to have a shmirah, than a vachtnacht is "unnecessary." One family had one anyway since the house was bursting with little boys, and a woman in her 60s was having a fit.) 

If people's feelings are hurt in the pursuit of "appeasement" (such as insulting someone else's religiosity), then that is collateral damage by some coreligionists. One can loudly question another's knowledge of the law or Judaism in general in a misguided attempt to gain brownie points with the Man Upstairs, destroyed egos be damned.

But Hashem would rather that no one is embarrassed. His kavod can stand on its own two feet.

In Judaism, the ends do not justify the means. So think a sec. And consider the big picture. No, bigger than that.


SporadicIntelligence said...

What you're suggesting is blasphemy!

Princess Lea said...

(Chuckle). Considering how it was my own aunt freaking out at my nephew's shalom zachor (who invited her?), I am perhaps too close to the situation.

It's just that instead of being the inventors of monotheism, some act as though they are under the thrall of pagan, petty, deities.

God is a Nice Guy!

Anonymous said...

Great thought (and great book. Just finished reading it on my kindle.)

Princess Lea said...

"Hadrian's Wall" was fabulous. I liked that one the best.