Faith versus Logic
Sometimes we make unconscious prejudicial considerations regarding our relationship with our spiritual side that is more like a business proposition than a homecoming for our soul. We have a need to acquire G-d as a partner in our daily life, but at what price?
We know and realize that it is G-d that sets the rules, and it is for us to follow them. Although we may have more or less an appreciation or understanding of G-d's Torah and the related commandments, this very understanding can become a barrier to our spirituality. On one side we are commanded to learn the Torah which means that we must realize an understanding of that which G-d has laid down for us as law; yet we are constantly reminded that we must have explicit trust in G-d.
These two concepts, intellectual understanding and blind trust, are opposites. A person with only blind trust in G-d can in effect make light of serious attempts to understand the deeper meanings that are in the Torah, seeing them as unnecessary. Whereas as person who applies himself to reaching the depths of the Torah and sees the supreme justice and beauty invested in the Torah laws can sneer at the simple faith of the non learned individual who possess no substantial knowledge of the Torah.
Yet G-d desires both of these traits in us, the relentless striving for deeper understandings of the Torah law and the reinforcement of pure and simple faith in G-d's active presence in the world.
In order to understand this more, we can illustrate it via a story:
In old Europe, there was a tailor who enjoyed good success and was sought out for his excellence in sewing skills and fabricating exceptional garments. It was his customs to attend a yearly fair in a far away city and purchase there enough fabric to last him for the entire year. This particular year the tailor found himself inundated with work and therefore unable to go to this particular fair.
To solve his problem of acquiring suitable fabric he approached a friend and beseeched him to go to the distant city to purchase suitable fabric for him. He promised his friend a suitable and generous reward if he would do him this favor.
His friend acquiesced and the tailor provided him with a list of exactly what to purchase and from whom. He gave the friend a large sum of money to be spent in the acquisition of the new raw material.
As the friend started on the long journey, he considered the possibility of utilizing the money to invest in local merchandise and sell them at a profit in the city that hosted the fair. He invested the money wisely in various merchandise and through shrew business acumen he was able to reinvest quickly. In a short time his was able to make a handsome profit, leaving time to purchase the material for the tailor and return with a good size profit for himself.
Now the tailor heard from his business associates who returned from the fair of the misappropriation and usage of his capital to enrich his friend. When his friend returned with the correct merchandise that he acquired for the tailor, he requested the promised reward.
Now do you think that the tailor is obligated to pay his friend for the services that he performed? On one side, he did bring back the requested merchandise, but on the other side he misappropriated the funds for his own purposes, endangering them via a possible loss. Should the tailor pay him his due?
This is the question that we are faced with. When we are commanded to study the Torah, we are bidden to try to understand its depths and to appreciate the logic in the laws. However this that we acquire for ourselves is not to be used for our own benefit.
One who studies and reaches a deeper level of understanding is required to teach others. If a person were to utilize that which he acquired from his studies for his personal benefit, such as making a living or as a source of being honored, then he is guilty of misusing the Torah for his own personal advancement. He is receiving his reward for his study of the Torah in this world; will he receive reward in the next world too?
This is the answer to our query, we must accept with a full and pure faith that G-d will pay us for that which he commanded us to do. It is incumbent upon us only to do that which we are commanded to do and not to use our knowledge for our personal benefit in this world.
In this manner, the two opposites, learning and faith, do not oppose each other, rather they compliment each other. It is only the pure faith in G-d that guides our learning His pure ways and it is only in learning of His pure ways can we activate our pure faith.
from the June 2002 Edition of the Jewish Magazine