Monday, April 23, 2012

Tazria: Following Your Destiny

The Angel in charge of conception is called לילה / Leila. When Hashem wishes a human being to be born, He bids the Angel Leila "Bring me this neshama from Gan Eden". The neshama, though, resents being uprooted from its Divine source, and complains to the Almighty "I am pure and holy, linked to Your Glory. Why should I be degraded by having to enter a human body?" Hashem responds: "The world where you will live surpasses in beauty the one from whence you emanated. You were fashioned for the sole purpose of becoming part of a human being and being elevated by his deeds."

The meaning of this is that although in Olam Haba the soul enjoys undisturbed tranquility and bliss, nevertheless the present world, despite all its tribulations, is of greater beauty. Only as long as a person lives on earth does he have the opportunity to study Torah and fulfill the mitzvos, thus accumulating merits.

Hashem subsequently compels the soul to merge with the seed for which it was destined. Even before the fetus is formed, the angel inquires of Hashem "What shall be its fate?"

At that point, the entire future of the unborn child is preordained. Hashem determines whether it is to be male or female, whether he or she shall be healthy or suffer from some sickness or handicap, his appearance, the degree of his intelligence, as well as all his mental and physical capabilities. Moreover, all particulars of his circumstances are already decided - whether wealthy or poor, what shall he possess, and who will be his future spouse.

We see that all details of a person's life are predestined. However, there is one exception. Hashem does not decree whether someone will become a tzaddik or a rasha. Each one decides how to fashion himself by means of the faculties and capabilities that were pre-ordained for him.

A person should not feel pride in his intelligence, strength or money, for these qualities are not of his own achievement, rather they were Divinely decreed for him before birth. There is only one field of endeavour in which accomplishment results from the individual's effort - whether and to what extent he will study Hashem's greatness by delving into His Torah and emulating His ways. To the degree in which he succeeds in this endeavour, he has actually accomplished something for himself.

While still in the mother's womb, the child is taught the entire Torah. He is shown a vision of both Gan Eden and Gehinnom, and the angel in charge of him entreats him "Become a tzaddik! Do not become a rasha!" When the child enters the world, the angel strikes his lips, causing all the Torah knowledge previously imparted to him to be forgotten. [Nevertheless, that knowledge was absorbed by his subconscious mind, enabling him to retrieve it during his lifetime].

Source: The Midrash Says


Leah said...

Geshmak. Simply beautiful. I love things of this nature, as I can envision the interaction in Shemayim.

Anonymous said...

very very inspiring. thanks devorah. what does it mean when its written, the Midrash says.
is it referring to a particular midrash with another name or is The Midrash, specifically its name.

Devorah said...

It's from a book called ''The Midrash Says'' which you can find here:

Anonymous said...

Is this the reason a baby cries when he is born... is it because he had to leave that Place of HaShem?

Devorah said...

Maybe, or more likely just a reaction to the smack to get the baby to breathe. My son didn't cry when he was born, he just seemed to realize where he was and went straight back to sleep :)

master said...

Is there really an angel with power to do this? Or we just talking figurativly as drasha?

Anonymous said...

Although I found parts of this piece to be beautiful, I struggle with some of it "...At that point, the entire future of the unborn child is preordained...
We see that all details of a person's life are predestined. " If that is truly the case, where does free choice enter? It has to be broader than the choice of rasha vs. tzaddik. We have many paths to choose from and choices to make. God knows all the outcomes of all our choices but gives us free will. I also believe that if you listen carefully, God will guide you to make the proper choices.

Devorah said...

Master: I'll quote from Yashanet: Midrashim
: ''The Midrashim are thought by some to have been divinely inspired and so are part of the religious corpus. Some are meant to be interpreted literally and others aren't, but all are meant to be taken seriously.''

Anonymous: The entire future is preordained, but we have free will to choose how to deal with it. Obviously the choices we make will affect the ongoing life, and by correct choices, a person can change themselves and their future.

Everyone has a roadplan for their lives, as there are certain things each person is put back on earth to accomplish, and therefore their life must include those things. For example: if the soul is sent back to earth to work on the trait of anger, it will need to be born into some kind of situation where anger exists: each soul/person is given the exact circumstances it needs to achieve its potential.

A soul that needs to learn the lessons of poverty will not be born to a wealthy family, for example.
A soul is given all talents necessary to achieve its tikkun: if it has to learn the trait of patience, it will be born as an impatient person; if a soul needs to learn to give tzedaka, it will of necessity have wealth, in order to be able to give tzedaka. Obviously the choice is his: to give or not to give. But if there was no money there, he would not have that choice.

Free will comes in exactly as you say, to choose between good and evil.
But the basic path of a person's life is mapped out, so that they can achieve their tikkun during their lifetime.

Even the name that a soul is given, is relevant. Just as we do not choose our names, we do not choose our birth circumstances, we have to deal with whatever we've been given.

We may, or may not, have many paths to choose from, but everyone has a different set of circumstances which are Divinely given, and some things cannot be changed.

For example: a blind man will not be able to see, and there is a reason why that person is blind, even if that reason is not obvious to us. No matter how much free will he exerts, he still will be unable to see.

When the soul is in Shamayim [the world of truth] it sees very clearly what needs to be fixed, and understands why it will need to be born a certain way, or to a certain family. Once we are born, we forget all of this, and just wonder why we ended up in our particular family. But the older we get, the more it becomes obvious WHY we were born into this family/group of people.... it is because these people will give us the best chance of succeeding in our mission to correct whatever it is that we were sent back down here for.

There are no accidents of birth, and there are no mistakes, even if it feels that way sometimes.