The world has gone mad.
For a person gifted with a critical method of thinking, no further elaboration is needed.
Now and then people lose it. Lately more often. In our time, epidemically.
It is not just what we are going through as a human race and how we react. It's a void, a lack of something higher–higher than conflict of interest, hatred, or blindness. Higher than being a good person. Higher than conscience.
Truth–not popular, not biased, not fair. Truth, guiding through the traps, often quite deep traps, sometimes turning into an abyss. The abyss of today.
Yes, the world has gone mad. I would like to share with you what I find meaningful to help us wake up and start thinking once again–thinking to survive as people who transform this world into a place where Absolute Truth can find an abode.
This remarkable letter penned by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, was written 57 years ago on a special holiday, Pesach Sheni (Second Passover), which was given as an eternal reminder that it is never too late, there is always a second chance and nothing is eternally lost. Never.
Read, enjoy, and be true to yourself.
The text is narrated by Zelig Brez.
May 8, 1963 / Pesach Sheni, 5723
In response to your letter, which consisted of several general questions relating to faith and religion.
You begin your letter with a warning that you don't believe in God, Heaven forbid, because you are uncertain as to whether He exists.
You can understand my amazement at this "statement," even though this type of language is unfortunately common in the questions posed by many young people. There is only room for doubt about God's existence when one lacks true consideration and thought, especially since the reply to this question has long been publicized and available in many books in print. It is only because of its utter simplicity that some people refuse to accept it.
This can be compared to a person who sees a book that contains many pages of intellectual content. Yet, he stands and declares that he doesn't believe that a thinking human being was involved in writing the book, and in setting the type, and in binding it. He doesn't believe — because of a lack of evidence in the existence of the author and printer, who did their work with wisdom and expertise.
The truth is that this comparison would still be relevant even if the book contained only a few pages; how much more so is it true with regard to our entire world! It is especially modern science that has revealed within the world an amazing order in every single aspect, and every day they discover new harmonies, orders, and synchronicities, that amaze everyone who studies them.
It should be noted that this should lead not only to a certainty in the existence of a Creator, but also to an assurance that His intellect and abilities are incomparably greater than all intellects and abilities in the universe.
The above includes also the conclusion that would provide an answer for all of the other questions in your letter in letter: Your questions about the way the world works, and that in your mind, or the mind of this or that person, it should have been run differently.
It would seem that this question is a continuation of the first, for if you don't understand the reason for the way things are, that would be a proof to you that there is no Creator or Master of the world.
Another analogy: A young child is brought into a huge factory. He declares that if he will understand all the details of how and why everything works in a specific manner, he will admit that someone planned and set up the machinery and their mode of operation. But since certain details in the factory seem to him to be illogical, and he has strong questions about them that seem to him unanswerable, he comes to the definite conclusion that there is no intellect, plan, or purpose whatsoever in the entire plant.
It should be noted that in the analogy, the differential between the child and the engineer who designed the factory is only one of development, i.e., it is a relative and comparable difference rather than an absolute one. After all, the designer was also once a child, at a similar intellectual level as the questioner. In our case, on the other hand, the differential between Creator and creation is incomparable and inestimable.
By the way — and maybe it is more than just by the way — what can guarantee that people will behave in a righteous and just manner, if not for the belief in a greater power?
In previous generations there were some who believed (and I stress this word, because it was no more than a belief) that one could rely on the natural inclination to justice in man's heart.
Hence there would be no need for belief in a Creator who commands people to behave in a certain manner. According to this belief, man's internal moral sense would render unnecessary any Divine mandate to rein his will, desires, or rationalized values, because of his supposed intrinsic integrity.
In our generation, however, the facts have been painfully and conclusively disclosed that this assumption is completely invalid.
The very nation which spawned a diversity of famed pioneers of diverse philosophical perspectives, including various ethical systems, as well as the greatest scientists — it was specifically that nation, with all of it tens of millions of citizens, that murdered and destroyed millions of men, women, and children without any justification. Their annihilation was based purely on a feeling of superiority and control. In fact, their leaders "sanctified" their actions by receiving approval from the scientists and the heads of the universities, including even founders of philosophical and ethical systems, approval without any conditions or reservations at all.
Of course, I know that there were individuals amongst that nation who disagreed. But that doesn't override or even weaken the fact that hundreds of professors and scientists were among the ideologues behind the Third Reich's behavior.
Although all of the above was written as a response to your letter, I do not believe at all what you write that you do not believe in God, Heaven forbid. Moreover, I am certain that you do not believe it either. Proof positive of this: You write that whenever you see injustice around you, or whenever you are reminded of the Holocaust which was perpetrated by Hitler, may his name be obliterated, it disturbs you.
If there truly were no Master or Designer to the world, why would it be surprising when things occur that are the opposite of morality and justice? On what basis would one expect something other than the “law” of the jungle where whoever is bigger than someone else swallows him alive?
This question doesn't only apply in extraordinary circumstances like the Holocaust. Even in the course of what we call our "regular" day-to-day lives, any event that seems to be unfair or unjust bothers us, and we feel that it should never have happened.
Obviously, inanimate matter, or even animals, are not expected to be fair and just. The fact that we are disturbed by these events must be connected with something that is higher than the mineral, vegetable, or animal kingdoms, higher even than human beings. This “something” is inside the heart of every person. It is the root of our certainty that there should be justice in the world, and that people should behave fairly. This is why, when we see something that seems not befitting, we spare no energy in searching for the cause that brought about the opposite of what should be.
I will conclude with what you wrote at the beginning of your letter, that you are an advisor in a youth movement. I hope that you will recognize your responsibility to direct your charges in the path of justice and righteousness. This path, as mentioned, is the right one even when our desires or will may be opposed to it. And, it can only last if it is based on a belief in the living God, who gave us the Torah of life*, and commanded us to do the Commandments “that a person shall do, so that he shall live in them.”
And if in every case of leadership, there is a great responsibility upon the leader or counselor, how much more so is this the case when dealing with youth. Every improvement or (heaven forbid) deterioration in their outlook of the world, even if it is meanwhile quite small, can have a decisive effect when they grow older and become independent.
Obviously if you have any reactions to the above you may write to me with complete openness, without any hesitation. However, as mentioned, you have a mission and purpose which is more important than all of these questions and answers: To lead the youth in the path of our faith and its eternal values, the Torah and its Commandments, for only in them and through them can one live a life worthy of the name.
- The word Torah literally means “instruction”—meaning guidance in life.
When Jews say “Torah,” they’re most likely speaking of the Five Books of Moses, the foundation of all Jewish instruction and guidance, the law of God as revealed to Moses and recorded in the first five books of the Hebrew scriptures (the Pentateuch).
Reprinted from "Mind over Matter"