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Did You Ask To Be Born?

Did You Ask To Be Born?

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Once upon a time there was a village full of disgruntled people. All day long they walked around with these sour faces, each bemoaning his troubles, each jealous of her neighbor's successes.

One day, a wise old man arrived in the village. He assembled them all in the village square and said to them: "I want you each to go and bring your most precious possession, the thing you cherish most in your life, and place it here in middle of the square." Soon there was a large pile of bundles and packages, of all shapes and sizes, in the center of the village square.

"Now," instructed the wise man, "you may each select for yourselves any one of these gifts. The choice is yours--take any package you desire."

Every man, woman and child in the village did exactly the same thing. Each chose his own bundle.


The Torah, as we all know, begins at the beginning, describing G-d's creation of the heavens and the earth, the continents and the oceans, vegetation and animal life. Then, in its 26th verse, we proceed to the creation of man. "And G-d said," we read, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..."

G-d is asking a council of human souls if He should create the human soul! Let us? Up to this point--and from here on through the rest of the Torah--G-d is spoken of as the ultimate singularity. He is the Boss, the exclusive source and mover of all. But in this single instance, there is an "us," a choir of opinions, a supernal boardroom before which the Creator places a proposal and asks for approval.

With whom did G-d consult when He desired to create the human being? Our sages offer a number of explanations. One is that G-d asked the angels, so as to temper their later criticisms of the failings of mortal man. Another explanation is that G-d was involving all elements of the universe, or all aspects of His infinitely potentialed being, in the formation of the multi-faceted soul of man. All these explanations, of course, raise at least as many questions as they answer. Indeed, it is regarding this particular verse that the sages have stated: "The Torah says it thus; anyone who wishes to misunderstand, let him misunderstand..." Obviously, there is an important message here to us--important enough that the Torah insists on this particular phraseology despite the fact that it allows for (encourages?) misunderstanding.

But there is one interpretation of this verse which presents us with a conundrum of a paradox. The Midrash offers the following explanation: "With whom did He consult? With the souls of the righteous."1 G-d is asking a council of human souls if He should create the human soul!

The plot thickens. Who are these "righteous" (tzaddikim) with whom G-d consulted? According to the prophet Isaiah, "Your people are all tzaddikim."2 We each posses the soul of a tzaddik (regardless of the extent to which we allow its expression). In other words, G-d asked each and every one of us if we desire to be created, if we choose to accept the challenge of earthly life. Only then did He proceed to create us.


If asking a soul whether it wants to be created sounds like a catch-22, this paradox in fact resolves a much deeper paradox--the paradox of divine decree and human choice.

G-d is forever telling us what to do G-d is forever telling us what to do. Indeed, the very word Torah means "instruction," and that's basically what the Torah is: a series of instructions from on high. And yet we are told that "a fundamental principle of the Torah" is that "freedom of choice has been granted to man."3 What exactly are our choices, if G-d is constantly instructing us?

The question runs deeper. Let us assume that, in any given situation, under any set of circumstances, the choice is ours as to how we should act. But what kind of choice is this, if no one asked us if we want to be in that situation and under those set of circumstances in the first place? What kind of "choice" is there, if we didn't choose whether or not we should be presented with that choice?

So the Torah reveals to us this amazing secret: that ultimate choice was made by us, before we even existed. Before G-d emanated your soul and breathed it into your body, you were asked if you should be. So in every situation in which you find yourself, in every challenge you face in your life--you are there because you chose to be placed in that life.


The life we have is the life we want We go through life complaining, "I didn't ask to be born...!" But a thousand times a day we refute that claim. With countless choices and actions, we affirm that the life we have is the life we want.

Of course we do. After all, we chose it.

FOOTNOTES
1. Midrash Rabbah, Bereishit 8:7.
2. Isaiah 60:21.
3. Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, Laws of Teshuvah 5:1.
By Yanki Tauber; based on the teachings of the Rebbe.
About the artist: Sarah Kranz has been illustrating magazines, webzines and books (including five children’s books) since graduating from the Istituto Europeo di Design, Milan, in 1996. Her clients have included The New York Times and Money Marketing Magazine of London.
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Discussion (83)
March 5, 2014
We chose to live a life
But how we live that life depends upon the choices that we make and we continually redefine ourselves by our choices.

We are here by choice. And we live by choice. Ultimately, we will chose the divine image, or we will reject it.
Peter Spiro
WA
March 4, 2014
In His own image
Genesis 1
26 And God said, <strong>Let us make man in our image, after our likeness</strong>: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 <strong>So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him</strong>; male and female created he them.

So, God created man in his own image. Not in the image of angels and not in the image of human's soul but in his own image....
Anonymous
January 22, 2014
To whom was G-d speaking
My fundamentalist Christian friend and even non-funds say that G-d was speaking to Jesus.

I believe G-d was either talking to His angels (maybe aka the unborn) or maybe to Himself. After all, who better to consult with than the one who knows Self best.

I like my theory that before being born I chose the parents I wanted - even knowing they would not stay together. Those were the two people who I needed in order to become the person I wanted to be.

I chose well ... because my mom was the most honorable person I knew and my father was not. But he had a flair. Both my brother and I have the flair but none of his garbage. We both are good human beings who cherish G-d.

Although my brother died, in his bible under 'Whose bible is this?" he wrote 'G-d's' ... and it made me smile.
Meira Shana
San Diego
chabadofcary.org
December 3, 2013
To Rabbi Shmary Brownstein
I know someone who believes that the world was created by the evil one. He says the good in life is given in order to tempt us to stay alive, hoping we will not wind up miserable. He says that if it were all bad, we could escape it by dying young, but the pernicious plan is to keep us here where we can continue to suffer. According to him, the whole world was created in order to produce misery in as many people as possible, and the only purpose of the good is to keep us alive to endure ever more misery.

So it is perfectly logical to assume that good can come from an evil source.

I just happen to disagree with that assumption. It is a recipe for misery.

But if we spend 20 minutes making a list for all we have to be thankful for, we will lighten our hearts and feel wonderful.

1. We are breathing.
2. We can walk (except for those who can't).
3. We can see. Some of us just had surgery and can see better than before
4. We can hear.
5. We can read.
6. and on and on and on and on..
Henry
Fort Lauderdale
December 3, 2013
I trust Moses. I trust Isaiah. And I TRUST their SOURCE..
Marci Phillips
Iimperiall, CA 92251 USA
November 11, 2013
Did you ask to be born?
Reviewing all the comments made, I would like to remind some, that G-D did not create a perfect world. If it was so created, we would have no need for those humans who repair, farm, build, treat, govern, protect, teach, mend, guide, etc. For that child standing on the street corner not to be killed in passing traffic, a million,billion, combination, permutations of events, would have to be miraculously executed by G-D for that one child to be saved. The miracle that the universe, and all of the accouterments had occurred in one instantaneous moment out of nothingness " blows one's mind" to accept, and be thankful. If you are not pleased with your portion in life, make a change, or ask for help. Instantaneous gratification is not the "soup de jour."
Gil
Great Neck,N.Y.
November 8, 2013
Didn't HaShem look into Torah and the Hebrew Letters?
I read many of the comments, it's all interesting and a matter of opinions, at least in my humble opinion.

So many good sources to study, and discuss. Isn't that the purpose? To grow,learn,& for six days be partners in Creation? In the book "The Secret Life of G-d" the author uses Zohar to show its all paradox.
We choose to either live a life if Torah or not to. Either way, we still serve the Ineffable One in the Story of Creation.

All I know us I know nothing, as it's been said.

More and more as a young person in this modern world, I ask not why we or I suffer, but as its also written, just to know intuitively -we suffer for the sake of HaShem.

We are here by choice, I don't know, but Believe this. To find and release Sparks, through acts of love and kindness, by study of Torah. It's equal to them all, it leads to them all. ( apologies for not citing all my references )

Seek only to receive in order to share, that's the key to a balanced and blessed life. B"H & Good Shabbos.
David
Orlando,Florida
October 3, 2013
God creates
I just read an excerpt from a book by Ramchal in which he responds to the verse that says God creates good and evil. The idea is that God does indeed create the possibility for good and evil, to give us choice, but that we make evil through improper choices.

So perhaps the word "US" in this verse is up to us. God has indeed created us in the Divine image. Will we make ourselves thus?
Peter Spiro
Stevenson, WA
October 2, 2013
Did I ask to be born?
I know I did not ask to be born. Nor did I ask to have the parents I had in life. My mom is the best mom anyone could ask for in life. She raised my sister and me almost solely on her own. My mom had to divorce my father when my sister and me were babies. My dad was a workaholic, womanizer, and a bad gambler. My mom tried to give my sister and me the best life possible. My mom had no formal education, therefore she barely earned enough money to keep my sister and me fed, clothed and a roof over our head. I made a few mistakes in my life. One is getting involved with the wrong woman at too young of age and marrying her. My former wife cost me money and opportunities that would have brought me wealth. She caused our son to commit suicide at her home at age 19. I am a man with many regrets. I would love to live my life over with my memory erased with the exception of my former wife and the financial opportunities I could have pursued in this life.

Anonymous
Anonymous
Tampa
September 3, 2013
We all asked to be born. Ours was the sperm that won the race. We swam hard to win the chance to be born.
We are here, AFTER BIRTH. Through no fault of our own, someone cruelly made us ashamed of our existence.
They were wrong.
Despite the fact that they were bigger and stronger, we were mistaken to believe them.
It is good that we failed to commit suicide.
We are fortunate to have survived those urges.
Wake up tomorrow & say, "Thank you for another day. I intend to make the most of it." Notice that you can breathe and maybe also see/hear/get out of bed. Notice you have less than the maximum degree of physical pain. Notice anything pleasant...the warmth of the coffee, the freshness of the washwaster on our face. Notice any good you have done. Revel in each tiniest pleasure, including your own good deeds.. For each pleasure, say to yourself, "This pleasure is a gift from Gd, because He loves me." Sit down t now. Take 20 minutes. List 100 things to be thankful for. You were born to thank Gd for these pleasures.
You'll feel good. Go for it.
Reuven Goldfarb
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