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From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@saber.towson.edu> Date: Sun, 9 Jan 2000 21:32:59 -0500 (EST) Subject: Why is it better to say 'I like ham but God forbade me' Some recent postings cited the well known Judaic addage "It is preferable to say 'I want to eat ham but the Torah prohibited me' to saying 'I can't stand ham'". The obvious question is "Why?" What values dictate that one statement is preferable to the other. To answer this I cite Rav Hirsch's famous views on Satan (Gen 4). Rav Hirsch cites an agaddic passage >When satan entices someone and they give in to him then >Satan goes up to heaven and complains I enticed so and so >and he gave in!!! Rav Hirsch suggests that the goal of Satan's enticements is for us to say No! An analogy would be for a runner on a running machine to increase the resistance or slope of his run. If he then gave up ('It is too steep') then the runner would have failed. The very purpose of increasing the steepness of the run is to give added physiological stress so that the runner can increase his capacity. This is the key to Rav Hirsch's approach. Sometimes adding stress is a way of 'getting rid of someone'. But sometimes adding stess is a means 'of enabling improvement in the person's skills'. Rav Hirsch says that Satan entices us so that we can increaes our 'running skills against temptation'. We thereby become more proficient. (This is why Satan complains if people misuse his stresses and 'give in'). Now we can understand why it is preferable to 'Like ham but say no' to 'Not liking ham'. If I 'don't like ham' then I am not practicing anything and not improving my temptation-resistance skills. But if I do like ham and say no then I am improving my spiritual capacity to stay no. Russell Hendel; Phd ASA; RHendel@Towson.Edu; Math Moderator Rashi is Simple; http://www.shamash.org/rashi/