Thursday, October 2, 2014

Judaism Affirming Life: Why The Performance of Many Mitzvos Is Limited to the Day Time

"So-called religions which stem from man's feelings of dependence direct man towards the night. Man is called upon to find God at the point where he loses himself. "Religions" equate the end of day, night, with the end of life, death, and seek to liberate man from the fears of night-death. In this perspective, man is seen as helplessly bound to his physical fate unless redeemed by the saving grace of religion. Typically, they erect their temples over the graves of the dead. They celebrate their most sacred mysteries at night, and their most fervent prayers are cries pleading for deliverance from the power of the "evil one" in the world. Such is the passivity, the dark aspect of human existence, which these "religions" employ to "bind" man to the Divine.

"Judaism is not a "religion." Judaism summons man into the full, bright light of day and shows him that he is master over the world outside himself as well as over the world within him. It makes him aware of his free-willed, godly power with which he can subdue both the world around him and the world within his own heart. It shows him the One, unique, true, free, almighty God Who, in His free omnipotence, has created the world around and within man. He has created man himself to serve Him, and He guides man and the world for His wise purposes. Both night and day serve Him; death serves Him, and so does life. It is He Who has created the passions in the breast of man so that man control them out of his own free will and employ them for the good in the service of God. Judaism reveals to man the clear, free spirit that dwells within his own heart, and it shows the One, unique, true God from Whom he has derived that clear, free spirit. It shows him the One Who has imparted to him this light and this freedom as a spark from His own free, almighty Essence. With this spark God has raised man above all else that lies bound by blind necessity and that must operate and behave according to mindless coercion, and has placed man into His immediate proximity. Freely, with every clear impulse, with every lucid thought, with every human act of his, man should pay homage to Him, the One God, and serve Him. By this homage and service, given with his life on earth, man is to elevate all of earthly life, in both its aspects-darkness and light-to the lofty goal of perfection.

"Judaism asks man to find God at the point where man finds himself. To Judaism, pleasure and life, strength, freedom and rejoicing are heralds that lead men to God. Judaism builds its sanctuaries upon the shining heights of life. Death and decay are kept far from the halls of its Temple. Grief and mourning must be put aside at its thresholds." R' Hirsch, Collected Writings, Vol. III, p. 88-9, Milah.

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