If you made it through Part One of Are You Dead? and didn’t find yourself among the fatalities described there, then perhaps “Are You Dead? — Part 2” more resembles your life story.
In the previous article, we explored how those who profess to hate their lives have attached themselves to Satan and subscribed to a death warranty. In this blog, we’ll explore how those who declare, “I love my life” are equally culpable of having no faith and of living in the stagnant death zone as do the haters. They however have the perfect little setup: They go to the gym; go to work; have great friends and frothy lattes; check their bank balances daily and tra-la-la, tra-la-la. They are the people who just look forward to next great movie, vacation or dinner and who try and preserve the status quo, often at any price — and the price is usually their potential, principles and purpose in life. They are the people who are so obsessed with their security in life that they die very rich but live very poor—poor in deeds, duty and donations.
But we are not born to be preservationists; nor are we even capable of seizing the moments. Rather, we are meant to be activists, as the first commandment in the Torah instructs, “Be fruitful and multiply,” not just in seed but also in deed. Are you living a selfish or a purposeful life? If you love your life and it is all comfortable and fluffy, then, as our beloved friend of blessed memory, Ari Fuld, used to say, “If life is easy, you are living it wrong.” For certain, you are not growing as a human being or as a servant of God.
When was the last time you did anything to make this world a better place, to serve your nation, to make yourself a better person? Not with squats and Botox, but by donating your time, talents and even your temperament for serious causes?
Are you busy renovating your kitchen, or volunteering at a soup kitchen? Are you busy learning the latest gossip or sports stats, or learning how to be a better Jew? Would God even want to free you from Egypt? Would He even know you’re Jewish? Would you too die in your own self-imposed darkness?
Why are you trying so hard to fit in as a people when you were born to stand out as nation? “And it will be if you obey the Lord, your God… [He] will place you supreme above all the nations of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 28:1)
Don’t love your life: love life, love good and love God. The difference between them is life or death.
New age thinkers, catering to our lazy world, insist on the path of least resistance. The Jewish path is the path of unyielding persistence. There is no destiny or blessing in inertia, only atrophy. God doesn’t want us to be too comfortable. Tomorrow is not a certainty, it’s a gift and a blessing. That is why the Jews were not allowed to keep extra manna overnight for the next day’s meal. If they did hang on to it, the next day they would find it rancid and crawling with worms. Every day, they had to go out and collect their daily portion of bread from heaven anew. Because when we stock up and become too “fat,” satiated and happy with the status quo, we too rot away.
The paved road is not always the high road or the right road. And so we see in last week’s parasha, how G-d led the Jews on a circuitous path. He kept moving them from one location to the next as we see throughout the Torah: “You have dwelt long enough at this mountain,” and then, “You have circled this mountain long enough.”
If staying for too long at the foot of the holy Mount Sinai had an expiration date, just imagine how ruinous it is to hang around lesser plateaus in life! There are other mountains to climb, lessons to be learned, tests to pass and good deeds to do.
Stop being comfortable. Stop wasting time on Facebook, Candy Crush, girls’ night out, or boys’ night in. You’re killing yourself with empty frivolity and “artificial sweeteners” and waking up a little more dead than yesterday. Do better, be better. No one is suggesting that you walk around miserable. But remember to not live life like the animalistic Esau who was nurtured by the next big thrill and the next big kill. For it is written that God hated him. Let’s wish more for ourselves! Life is not just about simple enjoyment, it’s also a Divine deployment and we are on a mission greater than ourselves. Have you gone AWOL?
Your soul and body are partners, until death do they part. Neither one is a lovely butterfly meant to be preserved under shiny glass, forever beautiful and forever useless. Stop LOVING your life and start LIVING it. You think you’re tired, stressed out, burned out, used out, and down and out? The Israelites set up and broke up 42 encampments before they reached the Promised Land, and still their battles have not ended. Why? Because as my university professor used to tell his tired students, “You’ll have time to sleep when you’re dead.” In the meantime, there’s a lot of work to do. Get busy behaving as God intended and as He commanded–CHOOSE LIFE!