Existential Fear or Faith

The Malchut Shlomo has a deep insight into the pasuk in last week’s parsha, BeChukotei, והלכתם עמי בקרי והלכתי עמכם בחמות קרי, V’Halachtem Imi B’Keri V’Halachti Imchem B’Chamat Keri, If you treat me with contempt (keri), then I will treat you with the heat of contempt.  He relates the word קרי (keri) to מקרא, mikrah, accident, random, arbitrary.  The Rabbi re-phrases this pasuk (verse) to say that if you insist on thinking that everything is random, that there is no meaning or order in existence, then I will deal with you in a way that will appear to you random and meaningless.

In other words, the consequence for acting as if God doesn’t exist is that we will not be able to perceive Him.  Whatever “punishment” might fall one, the real loss is the loss of an intimate relationship with The All.  We’re left with our small, limited little selves, along and afraid in a meaningless life.  I can’t imagine a worse life.

Writing about the song in the middle of the Pesach Seder, Dayenu דינו, he explains that the miracles we’re thanking God for are not the rescues that occurred on our way from the depths of Egyptian slavery to our ultimate redemption through the Holy Temple, but rather than He facilitated these rescues in a way which, each time, revealed His active presence.  The greatest experience available to us as the limited human beings that we are is the direct experience of and union with the Infinite Creator.

We’re taught that usually we need to earn, to merit these experiences through the modality of mitzvot, even though there are times, such as the Redemption from Egypt, where we experience this through חן, chen, grace.  The key, at each opportunity, is to  choose, through our בחירה, bechira, free will, the path that most leads to harmony with the Divine Will.  Of course, in order to do that, we need, first, an awareness of God in the world.  Seeing meaning in the world is both the “reward” itself as well as the means to earn that reward, paralleling the concept שכר מצוה מצוה, schar mitzvah mitzvah, the reward for a mitzvah is itself a mitzvah.

Ultimately, we’re given the choice of what kind of life we want for ourselves.  Do we choose the pain of infinite emptiness and loneliness or do we choose to see that our lives do, indeed, have meaning and potential?

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