Choosing Good Over Vice

(Photo Credit: Andy Blumenthal)
(Photo Credit: Andy Blumenthal)

The other day, I am sitting behind two security guards, and they are having this conversation about people and their desires.

This one goes to the other:

You know there are three parts to a person.
The head, the heart, and [motioning down below].

He goes on…

The head wants 100% what it wants.
The heart wants 100% what is wants.
And [again motioning below], wants 100% what it wants.

The other guy, listening intently, is nodding in agreement and muttering back again and again:

It wants what it wants!

The first guy gets called away to scan someone through security and then he comes back and sits down. The two guys look at each other still off in thought about this head, heart, and what’s below thing…nodding and nodding almost as if to say: You know what? We just can’t control what we want. It is what it is!

But yet, if everyone would just act out on each other based on their unbridled wants and desires, oy vey what a truly terrible world it would be.

This tied into a dialogue that we were having last night at the Friday night Shabbos dinner table.  It was about how everyone has their vices, even if we don’t know what they are.  From uncontrolled desires for food, drugs, alcohol, gambling, honor, money, power, sex, and more–it seems like everyone has their little secret fetish.

Whether it’s coming from their head, their heart, or down below…the key question is how much can they control themselves.

Today, in synagogue the speaker described the Holy Ark where the Tablets of the Ten Commandments were kept.  The Ark was wood overlaid within and without in gold.

In a way to me, the Ark is like each of us:  overlaid in gold–like the Golden Calf–and represents the vices that we are irrationally drawn to worship in place of Hashem.  But inside of each of us is a soul, like inside the Art are the Tablets from Har Sinai, inscribed with the words of Hashem telling us right from wrong and guiding us to behave morally and not like animals.

Each of is an Ark of gold tempted by vices all around us, but deep within is the soul that G-d breathed into us with the Commandments to teach us to control that which seems uncontrollable.  Thus, the Soul is what is really 100%, while the head, heart, and down below are really just chasing the Golden Calf.

About the Author
Andy Blumenthal is business and technology leader who writes frequently about Jewish life, culture, and security. All opinions are his own.
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