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Thursday
Nov072019

Why Can Hashem follow His Ta’ava, and I Can’t?

I’ll answer the question directly: We should emulate Hashem and follow all of our ta’avos as well, we must insert one caveat and prerequisite — that all the ta’avos should be of the same type as Hashem’s: born out of strength rather than weakness.

Let’s discuss for a moment the term “ta’ava,” how do we describe this human experience we usually call ta’ava?

Typically, it’s translated as “lust” or “desire,” but I’d rather translate it as a weakness because that’s what it is. When one indulges and follows his ta’avos, he’s exhibiting a total loss of control. When I desire something, there is a force within me that is pushing me towards indulgence, and that force is really pushing me towards surrendering my will and control and give in to a weakness.

When I indulge in that ta’ava once, and again, and again, I eventually become a prisoner to it. I lose control.

There was a famous study done with mice. Scientists inserted a device that monitors the brain, and when the mouse would discover that by pulling a certain lever it experienced pleasure, it kept doing it until it died. The ta’ava literally led it to commit suicide! That’s complete loss of self-control!

So yes, Hashem has ta’avos, and so do we. But ours come out of weakness, whereas Hashem’s ta’avos come from a place of absolute control and strength.

In Hemshech Samech Vov the Rebbe Rashab brings the Midrash (also quoted in Tanya chapter 36) “Nis’aveh HaKadosh Baruch Hu Li’hyos Lo [Yisborach] Dira B’Tachtonim.” And at the end of the Ma’amar, he brings the passuk this is based on: “Shokav Amudei Sheish” – “Olam shenishtokek HaKadosh Baruch Hu livroso” and explains why Hashem’s desire to create the world is called a ta’ava.

The common denominator between these two types of desires is, as the Alter Rebbe famously said (quoted in the said ma’amar), “oif a ta’ava iz kein kashe nit — – you cannot question a ta’ava.” When a person acts on a ta’ava, there is no logical reasoning behind it.

We, just like the mice, know that many things we indulge in are not good for us, yet we continue to do them because of a ta’ava… Why do we? No one knows, there is actually no reason for it, its because we lost control.

Hashem also desires. Why? We can’t ask why, but that’s where the comparison ends. In His case, it’s a strength and not a weakness, and that is the big “small” difference between Hashem’s ta’avos and our ta’avos.

Super-Rational vs. Sub-Rational

To present this idea from a bit of a different angle:

What the alter Rebbe means by the statement “You can’t question a ta’ava” is this: we don’t have a word in our language and terminology to represent Hashem’s desire to create the world because our language is based on reason. Hashem, however, isn’t limited to reason and logic. Some things Hashem does are beyond reason.

Our ta’avos are also not rational, but in that case, that means that those desires are less than logical. We do understand where they came from, what their cause is, and how to deal with it. And we, therefore, should and must deal with it, primarily by not giving in to them.

We use the same term for Hashem’s desire because we don’t have a better word to express the idea that Hashem wants something beyond reason, but we must be mindful of the fact that Hashem’s ta’ava is higher and greater than reason, and thus is to be “followed”!

It is very important to separate the idea “beyond reason” from “without reason.” Too many people say that if something is not logical, it is less than logical, or anti-logical.

No! It is more than and above logic, it is the will of Hashem, not coming from weakness rather from strength.

This is the short answer, but it gives us a lot to ponder about.

Let’s remember that there is a piece of G-d within each of us, and we, therefore, can experience that same ta’ava of strength too. It’s the Pintele Yid that we experience in moments of extreme intensity, like moments of Mesirus Nefesh and Teshuva.

These feelings are also ta’avos, good ones, and yes, they absolutely should be followed. They are not from weakness.

But, as to the other types of ta’avos, well, it doesn’t make any sense to fall for them… ■

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