Shabbos Parashas Ki Savo

Sefer HaMiddos, Shaar HaDaas (Gate of the Intellect), Chapter 6 (continued)
Consider: Where did you come from? How were you brought into existence? How do you get your life force? How is your soul kept in existence? For what purpose were you brought into existence and placed in this world? Do not be misled by your familiarity with yourself and the world, to which you have been accustomed from the time you were born. Consider an analogy. Suppose you owed someone a certain sum of money, and you had been unable to pay him back for a long time, and finally you got the money. Would you hold back from repaying him now, just because you had not paid him for such a long time? It is the same with the person who up to now had not put his mind to ponder and understand Hashem’s handiwork, and then Hashem aroused his soul to do so. Such inspiration from above should lead you to imagine that you were just now brought into existence from nothingness. You are amazed at what you behold, and you are led to wonder. You have a yearning to understand, just as a hungry person has a yearning for food.
And after you ponder your having come into existence from nothingness, you come to realize three basic facts about your existence, which form the foundation of belief in the Creator. First, you realize that you did not come into existence out of your own volition and through your own power. You did not make a reckoning and decide to bring yourself into existence. You did not even pray to some being that preceded you to bring you into existence, for the very fact that you did not exist implies that you could not do so. Second, you realize that just as you were brought into existence by a force outside yourself, so, too, your existence is being maintained now by an outside force. You are like a stranger to yourself. All the parts from which you are formed, all your organs and limbs – your heart, your brain, your kidneys, and so on, and all the forces that operate within you are all being maintained by an outside force; you are not the one maintaining them and controlling their operation. You cannot ensure your own continued existence. You barely have a trace of understanding of your nature, how your various organs and limbs are constructed and connected together, and how the various forces that operate within you work and maintain your existence. And if you do come to gain some understanding of these things, it is only through a process of investigation in which you examine yourself as if from the outside, in the way you come to know a friend.
[In this vein, the Mishnah states (Avos 4:22): “Independently of your will you were created, independently of your will you were born, independently of your will you live, independently of your will you will die, and independently of your will you are destined to give an account before the King of Kings, the Holy One Blessed Be He.”]
Now, it is true that you tend to your body in various ways, which its natural forces lead it to demand of you. You eat, you drink, you eliminate bodily wastes, you put on clothes, you rest, and you sleep. But you know clearly that the way you tend to your body is like the way a servant tends to his master, pouring his cup and ministering to him in other ways – not out of his own volition but rather on account of his master’s command. You are not like the head of the house who rules over his house as he pleases. You tend to your body only because of bodily forces that compel you to do so. The force of hunger prompts you to eat, the force of thirst prompts you to drink, and so on. Just try to “rebel” and hold back from obeying your body’s commands, and see what happens. Your body will press you fiercely until you appease it. You may even get sick and be forced to undergo medical treatment.
Third, through pondering the above, you come to realize your lowly stature. You have minimal control over what happens to you at any given moment. All the more so, you do not know what will happen to you in the future, even just at the very next moment. You are like a blind man who cannot see what is in front of him and is being led by a sighted man, held by the hand. Similarly, your life hangs in the balance before you, until you are granted the life force that enables you to survive the next moment.
After your mind has grasped these truths, you will realize and recognize with clear knowledge that that they imply that there is a Creator. Certainly your existence is not something that necessarily must be; you know you are not keeping the world going, so it is certainly possible to imagine a world in which you do not exist. In addition, you did not bring yourself into existence out of your own volition and power, and you are not maintaining yourself in existence. It therefore must be that there is another being that willed that you exist, brought you into existence, and maintains your existence. What need do you have for outside proofs? The facts we have described above are facts of which you have innate knowledge – your knowledge of these facts comes from within your own self, and you are sure they are true. And from these facts it follows immediately that there is a Creator.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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