Sunday, January 9, 2011

The world as a game:Magid of Mezeritch

this is a continuation of the post regarding the dichotomy as viewing life as a game versus as reality. Below is a statement which says that G-d knows that this world is trivial - both its joys and hardships i.e., it is a game to get rewarded and to be taken seriously.

Magid of Mezeritch (Likutei Yekarim page 12b): The tzadik doesn’t get satisfaction in this world. Even though he prays occasionally concerning worldly matters—he is not answered and his prayers are ignored. In truth it is because of G﷓d’s great love and fondness for the tzadik that He doesn’t answer him concerning worldly matters. This can be explain by the following parable. A king’s small son made a tiny house out of twigs—as children typically do—and someone came and broke it. The child ran crying to his father the king. He screamed and wailed to his father about the great tragedy that had befallen him. The king upon hearing about this “great tragedy” laughed—even though he loved his son very much. Because in the father’s eyes this loss was totally insignificant in comparison to the fabulous good that the king was prepared to give his son. The king also had in mind to build his son a glorious palace of unparalleled grandeur. Consequently the little house of twigs was so inconsequential in the eyes of the king that he saw no reason to take revenge on the person that had broken it. Therefore even though his son suffered greatly by his loss, his father ignored it. It was only a tragedy in the eyes of the child but not to the father who knew that his son was receiving infinitely more significant things. The meaning of the parable is obvious. Because G﷓d’s great love for the tzadik He will give him many great and wonderful things in the World to Come. Therefore he doesn’t pay attention to the suffering that the tzadik has in this world. He knows that the good things in the World to Come are infinitely greater than that which a person has in this world. He also knows that the good in this world is as nothing compared to the great and strong love that causes Him to give the tzadik the good reward in the World to Come.


  1. "Life is like a box of chocolates. you never know which one you're gonna get" Words to live by from the maharan Forest Gump.

  2. Bartley... you're quoting Momma Gump. (Who as far as I can tell had no first name other than "Mrs.") My momma always said, 'Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.'" Anyway...\

    Compare the Maggid's words with the Ramchal's in Mesilas Yesharim 1:

    Our Sages of blessed memory have taught us that man was created for the sole purpose of rejoicing in God and deriving pleasure from the splendor of His Presence; for this is true joy and the greatest pleasure that can be found. The place where this joy may truly be derived is the World to Come, which was expressly created to provide for it; but the path to the object of our desires is this world, as our Sages of blessed memory have said (Avorh 4:21), "This world is like a corridor to the World to Come."

    The means which lead a man to this goal are the mitzvoth, in relation to which we were commanded by the Lord, may His Name be blessed. The place of the performance of the mitzvoth is this world alone.

    Therefore, man was placed in this world first - so that by these means, which were provided for him here, he would be able to reach the place which had been prepared for him, the World to Come, there to be sated with the goodness which he acquired through them. As our Sages of blessed memory have said (Eruvin 22a), "Today for their [the mitzvoth's] performance and tomorrow for receiving their reward."

    When you look further into the matter, you will see that only union with God constitutes true perfection...

  3. I think this is an excellent highlight of the difference between an approach which in my experience is favored among orators of the yeshiva world, and that of e.g. R' SR Hirsch. I have a very hard time imagining him saying something like this; indeed the very notion of Hirsch's Torah Im Derech Eretz, where Derech Eretz is the fundamental assumption of the universe, goes against this approach to life.

  4. I'm not as sure that RSRH would have to disagree with the Ramchal.

    The Ramchal says the point of this world is to become the kind of person who can be close to the Almighty in the next. If you feel that the Almighty is interested in a stable, peaceful, and spiritual humanity, then Hirschian derekh eretz is what it would take to be close to him.

    (Notice that both Mussar and TiDE make life about personal refinement, and personal refinement first about interactions with others, and then about relating to Hashem. They have significantly different models of what refinement means, but much of the philosophy overlaps.)

    Perhaps more telling is how little RSRH writes on the subject altogether. Or perhaps, he wrote on topics the Germany-sliding-to-Reform was ready to listen to.


  5. Maybe better stated, Germany-sliding-toward-Reform-and-dead-Orthodoxy... also, my contrast from RSRH was aimed at the OP, not the Ramchal: "this world is trivial - both its joys and hardships i.e., it is a game to get rewarded and to be taken seriously." It's hard for me to hear him saying "trivial" or "game" about the world even on a philosophical level.


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