(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Bais Medrash (c) Torah.Org

Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 12:29:44 -0500
From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel)
Subject: Re: The Ultimate Good

Some interesting discussions have been generated about the classical
questions raised in recent editions of Bais Medrash, by Michael Shapiro and
others concerning:
* Why G-d punishes people who do not want the next world pleasure vs this
world * How do you answer a person who acknowleges the superiority of next
world pleasure but simply wants this world pleasure.

I have two additional comments (to those already made):
1) We call G-d a King. When we make a blessing on food we say "G-d..King.."
Thus we do the commandments because of G-d's will not because one pleasure
is better than the other. Similarly G-d can punish people who refuse the
next world since He is a king.

2) While (1) has been already echoed by some people it can be supplemented
by the following observation:

If I avoid the pleasures of the next world and take the pleasures of this
world then I am probably impetuously involving myself in physical
pleasures. But if I am impetuously involving myself in physical pleasures
then I probably am hurting other people.

Let me give a simple example. Kashruth teaches us (besides being G-ds will)
how to control our urges. Suppose I eat pork etc everyday and eat whatever
I like (Pick this worlds pleasures over the next worlds). True in the end I
will pay for overindulging myself but in this world while I am gorging
myself there are people starving who could use this food (and my gorging
does not help me).

Thus G-d has a right to punish me for depriving other people.

Similarly comments can e.g. be made about taharath mishpachah (I.e. If I
don't observe it then I haven't learned how to properly control myself and
therefore I am probably hurting my partner--thus G-d has the right to
punish me)

Again...these are components of an answer..I do believe however that they
contribute somewhat.

Russell Jay Hendel PHd ASA
Rhendel @ mcs drexel edu