> Weekly Torah Portion > Beginner > Straight Talk

The Path of Most Resistance

Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43 )

by Rabbi Shaul Rosenblatt

It is interesting that Islam means submission to God, whereas Yisrael, the name of the Jewish people, means quite the opposite -- doing battle with God. Judaism believes that we are not in this world to be mindless robots. We are not here to surrender our free will to an omnipotent Being. On the contrary, we are here to be independent of that Being. We are here to struggle, to choose, to battle with ourselves for an understanding of truth. And when that truth is hard to accept, to battle even with God himself.

When God tells Abraham that he is going to destroy Sodom, Abraham fights to save the city. When God tells Moses that He is going to destroy the Jewish people, Moses also fights. And it's not just, "Please God, be nice and don't do it." It's, "How could You call yourself ‘just' if you do such a thing? Do You want the Egyptians to say that You brought the Jews out of Egypt for evil purposes -- so that You could destroy them in the desert?!" It's a serious argument.

The bottom line is that standing up for what you believe to be right means even standing up to God if you believe He's doing something wrong. It means taking a stand, even if no one, not even God himself, is standing with you. It takes a great deal of courage to do this, and it's so much easier to have a religion in which God does the telling and you do the doing -- no questions asked.

But, as I've often said before, if it's the simple life you are looking for, then don't even dream of Judaism. It's the path of most resistance. If you're looking to be a zombie, look elsewhere. Judaism wants you to think for yourself and stand by what you know. It's difficult and it's challenging -- but it's the most effective path to spiritual enlightenment. The path of most resistance... but equally that of deepest accomplishment.



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