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Why Say No?

by Rabbi Dovid Hochberg

  

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Just Say No. You see it on the subway. You hear it on the radio. You can find it on posters all over the city. Just Say No.

The city uses that slogan to try to prevent drug use. I have another idea. I want to use it in a more powerful way.

Just Say No. Forget drugs…I'm talking about life in general. Particularly a Jewish lifestyle. There are many things that the Torah does not want us to do. Did you know that in Judaism, there are 365 negative commandments, and only 248 positive commandments? Why did Hashem set up the Torah that way? We are human beings with emotions, feelings, and desires. Why did He create us this way, only to tell us, "Just Say No?"

Great questions.

Let’s look at it this way. Pretend for a moment that there are no boundaries. No rules. No rewards. No punishments. You can do whatever you want to do. There are no consequences. Play around with that idea for a while. Let your imagination go.

Pretend for a moment that there are no boundaries. No rules. No rewards. No punishments. You can do whatever you want to do. There are no consequences. Play around with that idea for a while. Let your imagination go
It feels great, doesn’t it? Imagine! A world where you can do whatever you want.

But it doesn’t last. As the excitement dies down, you are going to start to feel restless. You will feel like you are looking for something that you can’t find. You will find yourself feeling, well, I guess the best way to describe the feeling is empty. Don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself. Act out the fantasy in your mind as long as you can and tell me what you feel.

You see, what you have just created was a world without boundaries. You, as a person, have just opened up your personal boundaries and let everything and anything in. There are no “walls” that surround you. For all intents and purposes, you don’t exist anymore. Why? There is nothing to define who you are. There are no boundaries, no lines that you can draw and say, “this is what I will do and this is what I won’t do.” If you allow yourself to do and experience everything, what defines you? Where is your private, personal space that you carve out for yourself and control what comes in or goes out? You have broken down the boundaries, the walls that created that space. You have left yourself open, exposed to everything.

Now, what happens when you create that private place for yourself? What happens when you build walls, boundaries, around yourself and you begin to control what goes in and what comes out? When you start to set limits about what you will do and what you won’t do?


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