Motti Wilhelm

Welcome, Child!

A mother holds the hand of her newborn baby (Freepik)
A mother holds the hand of her newborn baby (Freepik)

It’s past midnight, and as I sit on the couch bottle-feeding my newborn son, I think about the world he was born into. He arrived five months into modern Israel’s longest war, just in time to see things heat up with Hezbollah and Iran.

Welcome, Child!

I’m reminded of a discussion in the Talmud (Eruvin 13b):

For two and a half years, the great academies of Shammai and Hillel debated:

Bet Shammai stated that a person would find it easier and prefer to never have been created, while Bet Hillel argued that man would prefer to be created than not be created.

The Talmud is not recording a bleak conversation on a rainy night. For thirty months, the two greatest schools of Jewish thought debated with rigorous citations, sources, and insight into our very reason for being.

Bet Shammai argued that we are born exclusively for the purpose of service; to better the world and to realize the maker’s vision. Had you asked me, I would find it easier and prefer to never have been created, but this is not about me, it’s about my purpose and my mission.

Bet Hillel argued that coupled with our mission comes a sense of fulfillment and purpose being created provides, and therefore “man would prefer to be created than not be created”.

At the end of two and a half years, they called a vote and concluded, It would be easier and preferable for man not to be created, and now that he has been created, let him examine his behavior.

Ultimately, the sages concluded that we are called to let go of the “what’s in it for me?” and fully lean into our role as change agents and implementers of the Divine vision. Ask not “would I have signed up for this?” but rather “what was I signed up for?”

When we indeed shed our ego and need for self-satisfaction, once we stop asking “would I have signed up for this?”, we begin to experience a level of consciousness and connectedness which was impossible before. We move from my purpose to the purpose, and in place of simply seeking our own happiness, we can experience the depth of our creator’s joy in our mission.

To my son; while you may have not signed up for the journey ahead, you have been called upon to join the ranks of people at this critical moment. Your arrival means you have a redemptive gift the world needs now. Don’t ask for your needs, ask “what am I needed for?”. Through elevating your consciousness, you will be elevating the awareness of the world at large. By living your life with purpose, you will bring us to the time when the purpose of all will be revealed.

Welcome, Child!

For an in-depth discussion on the above cited Talmudic debated see Honey and Circles & Likkutei Sichos Volume 22 Shemini 2

About the Author
Rabbi Motti Wilhelm received his diploma of Talmudic Studies from the Rabbinical College of Australia & New Zealand in 2003 and was ordained as a rabbi by the Rabbinical College of America and Israel’s former chief Rabbi Mordecha Eliyahu in 2004. He was the editor of Kovetz Ohelei Torah, a respected Journal of Talmudic essays. He lectures on Talmudic Law, Medical Ethics and a wide array of Jewish subjects and has led services in the United States, Canada, Africa and Australia. His video blog Rabbi Motti's Minute is highly popular as are his weekly emails. Rabbi Wilhelm and his wife Mimi lead Chabad SW Portland as Shluchim of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
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