Life and Death, God, Soul and Reality

        April 2013    
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The Puppet and the Puppeteer

By Nachum Mohl

When I was young I loved puppets. Puppets, marionettes and dummies drew my interest and I had quite a collection which I would play with for hours. Children seem to have a love for these things, exactly why; I can not say exactly why, but I noticed how fascinated young children can be to watching a puppet as he moves.

A puppet, simply described is something like a sock, but has a face and a mouth that can open and close and even arms. It works simply by putting your hand into it and by moving your hand the puppet becomes animated.

Of course young children find fascination in the fact that an object that they know is really not animate, that really has no life, that is really nothing but a rag that normally lies in the toy box motionless has now come to life and can move and talk and even act like a person. This fascinates children.

But no one is really fooled into thinking that the puppet has a real life. While the puppet is moving the child is fascinated into thinking that it is a real creature. But deep down inside the child knows that it is the hand of the puppeteer that is inside that gives life to the puppet; without the puppeteer's hand inside, the puppet is just an inanimate rag doll.

People are the same. We tend to see people as homogeneous creatures. Puppets we know are composed of two: the external rag doll and the puppeteer's hand that give the puppet its 'life'. But people and puppets share one thing in common: when the life force is taken out, the body can not move itself.

We understand from here that just as a puppet must have a living force to move it, meaning the operator's hand, so too the person has inside of him the force from an operator. Take that force away, there will be no movement.

We have all encountered the concept of death; sometimes face to face and generally in the world around us. Death is the separation of the life force from the body. No matter how robust a person may be, once the life force is taken out, the person ceases to exist in the realm of the living and there is no one who can put the life force back into anyone since it is not given to man the ability to create 'life'.

The gift of bestowing life onto man is from G-d. He created a 'soul' that gives the life force to man that he may move and think; only G-d can put this life into man. Once this life force is taken out, man can not put it back in.

So we are likened to puppets. Puppets have a life force in them and we have a life force in us. The difference is that we know puppets are make-believe but we have not come to the realization that people are only temporary. We do not realize that what is the real person is not the exterior facade that we behold but rather a combination of bodily powers merged with a soul that give this powers the ability to function.

Although we may not realize it at every moment, we know instinctively that the reality is such.

From this we can realize that there is a 'higher power' in the universe, it is that which we call 'G-d' who possesses the ability to transcend what we know as reality, the mundane materialness of the world. If we contemplate on this aspect of life, of the greater power that we possess within ourselves, we can connect with the truth of life and of its meaning.


from the April 2013 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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