Natural Morality and Halakhah

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  1. Yona says:

    Regarding the question of “why serve G-d?” my approach now is to say that our soul intuitively wants to serve G-d because He is infinite perfection; we want good (natural morality) and He is the Good. So the question doesn’t make any sense; it is asking “why live according to truth, goodness, justice and wisdom.
    However, I want to serve G-d for His sake – I want to good because I want to do good – and not for any ulterior or selfish motives. But the problem is that when I want something I by definition want it because it gives me pleasure (either physically or psychologically; it makes me feel good or good about myself).
    So are we ever serving G-d? I do things either because my body or subconscious or soul wants it (the soul wants self-actualization). We only desire something when we think it will give us pleasure. Even a marriage – on the highest level – we want to give to the other because we want to be givers. Is there true altruism in the world?

  2. micha says:

    First, I’m not sure what it means to serve G-d for His Sake.

    And what difference does it make to HQBH whether an animal is slaughtered from the front of the neck or the back? Surely you must say the mitzvos were only given for the purpose of refining people through them, as it says, “every word of God is refined”. (Mishlei 30:5)
    – Bereishis Rabba 44:1

    I think we also need to distinguish between doing a mitzvah because it makes you happy for ulterior reasons, and the happiness that comes from doing a mitzvah because you’re doing what Hashem made you to do. I don’t think the latter is selfish because the only reason why it brings the happiness that motivates you is lishmah.


  3. Chaim says:

    I’ve written extensively on this topic years ago. From the time of the sin of Adam there is an unwavering universal concept of “good” and “evil” in all of mankind. It exists in all humans, no matter what race, origin, or background they originate from. Avraham came from a hostile environment – his father fashioned idols under Nimrod’s regime; and yet he single-handedly discovered Hashem, willingly choosing the furnace of Ur Casdim over forced violation of recognition of Hashem’s supreme rule.

    This is what altruism is. No thought of personal gain of prestige, money, or honor. Just do it/don’t do it because it is/isn’t the right thing to do. If it makes you feel happy or Hashem does a miracle for you – that is a natural result of proper navigation through life, and doesn’t diminish from the “lishmah” aspect of your action. There will, of course, be more trials to come, but this is all for your ultimate benefit. Avodas Hashem is not a conventional “hit or miss” operation. Life is constant opportunity, and always in motion. No matter who you are, no matter what your previous history is, you are constantly in motion. It is exclusively YOUR choice which direction you are going.

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