Tower of Truth

Tower of Truth
Man’s need for self-validation is very deep. Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. The deeper the need – the more powerful the desire to invent and to fabricate.
Not that there is a true need to fabricate. The Creator who so lovingly designed us also provided for all of our needs. We have air to breath, water to drink and food to eat. Surely God also provided for our basic emotional needs as well.
There seems to be a pattern in the way God provides for our needs. The availability of the item that satisfies our need seems to be directly correlated to the level of requirement that we have for the particular item. Air is the most essential material need that we have and it is all over the place. Water follows as our second most basic need and while it is not as easy to obtain as air but it is still quite readily available. Food is not as easily obtained as water but the basic food staples are easier to acquire than are other, less pressing, needs that we have. It would then follow, that our essential emotional needs were also met by the Creator of all.
Indeed, self-validation is as readily available as air. Our very existence is a most powerful message of validation. Your existence is a deliberate act of love wrought by the Creator of the universe; He knew what He was doing when He called you into existence – that is a deep message of affirmation. When you see how your body was designed with wisdom, how your needs are met by the world He created and each of these with grace and beauty – you are validated by His care for you. When you realize how it is not only your essential needs that are met but also how He put so much more into this world simply to make life more pleasurable, you will then be affirmed by His love.
As a human being you will appreciate that God endowed you with the ability to take advantage of every aspect of nature, including various forces of nature that are completely useless to animals. Furthermore; as a human, God granted you dominion and control over the animal kingdom (Psalm 8:7). These basic truths should serve to confirm and to validate your central role in God’s plan. You have been blessed with the ability to act with a range of emotions that is not matched by any other being except for God Himself. As a human you possess a conscience that informs you what is just, what is good, holy and blessed, and conversely; what is evil, impure and wrong. A proper recognition of these blessings will provide you with all of the confirmation and validation that you need.
But we have a tendency to look away from these blessings (Ecclesiastes 7:29). Now, when we look away from these blessings, we find that the need for self-validation is not met. So we invent, we fabricate and we have manufactured a complex web of values that have no basis in reality; and we then seek validation in the tower of falsehood erected by man.
We attach importance to concepts that have no intrinsic importance and we then validate ourselves by associating ourselves with these concepts. We give value to articles and forces that are not intrinsically valuable and we then affirm our self-worth by possession and control of these articles and forces.
Money, sports achievements, the honor of men, fame and positions of power are but a few of the examples of empty ideas that have been exalted by man. We measure ourselves by the connection that we have to these concepts that stand high in the minds and hearts of men. We find self-validation when we can associate ourselves with these concepts that men look up to and this is how we measure our own self-worth and the worth of our fellow humans.
The tragic ramifications of this mistake are manifold. The first, most obvious, ramification is the mere fact that it many of these “items of value” are out of reach for most of mankind. There are a limited of number of people that can be famous, powerful, rich and honored. These qualities are always measured in the relative context of the general population. You are only rich if you have more money than the average person, you are only famous if you are more famous than the average person and your sports achievement can only be significant if you outdid your fellow man. Most people spend their life striving for these and never attaining them and this never-ending striving leads to violent conflict between men and nations.
Another painful ramification of this false path that man-kind has chosen is the disappointment that is encountered when one has exerted him or herself for one of these “achievements” only to realize that they have spent a life chasing a mirage. As we mature, the dazzle of the world and its glories tends to fade from our hearts and we realize how empty some of these “goals” have been.
Perhaps the most tragic ramification of this pervasive human mistake is when one never realizes the emptiness of these concepts. Can there be something more tragic than a man going to the grave never having learned that there is more to life than money, fame and honor?
The issue of validation is not simply a question of self-help; a proper way to meet our emotional needs. God created us with this emotional need so that we can appreciate our purpose in His world. Our search for validation and self-worth ought to lead us towards deepening a relationship with God, living in the light of His love, and radiating that love to those around us. The distractions of the man-made value system are not  only damaging on a personal level; but they also pull mankind away from the true purpose of life.
The true contest of life is then the question: will we entangle ourselves in this web of lies spun by ingratitude? Or will we learn to focus on the blessings, the love that God constantly showers upon us?
It is not a coincidence that the name: “Jew” means gratitude (Genesis 29:35). It is also not a coincidence that the king of the Jews; David, wrote a book that expresses this heart of gratitude towards the Creator of all and encourages man to disentangle from the web of falsehood manufactured by man’s refusal to appreciate. It is for this purpose that we were chosen and it is for this purpose that God chose David as our king. We, the Jewish people, are called to stand as a beacon of light, as an example of focus on the goodness of God and disdain for the false value system created by man.
It is up to us. We can choose where we will find our validation, confirmation and sense of self-worth. Will it be in the tower of emptiness erected by man? Or will it be in the tower of truth whose bricks are the love and the goodness of our Creator. This choice is where it is all happening.
Choose life!
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Thank You
Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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26 Responses to Tower of Truth

  1. tildeb says:

    It’s one thing to say, “Your existence is a deliberate act of love wrought by the Creator of the universe; He knew what He was doing when He called you into existence – that is a deep message of affirmation. When you see how your body was designed with wisdom, how your needs are met by the world He created and each of these with grace and beauty – you are validated by His care for you. When you realize how it is not only your essential needs that are met but also how He put so much more into this world simply to make life more pleasurable, you will then be affirmed by His love.”

    This is a necessary plank in your aim towards rationalizing a notion of ‘validated’ divine purpose. It’s not validated at all.

    Consider the flip side, a life born with debilitating and painful ‘wisdom’, with needs that are difficult to meet, often impossible, by the person born this way? Is this life ‘designed’ to be worth less than others, intentionally ‘invalidated’ not just with less pleasure but actually filled by moment to moment pain and suffering? Do these very real people meet this the ‘design’ validation and reveal the purpose by some divine creator?

    I don’t think so.

    It seems to me as if you have to assume these victims of ‘less than’ conditions must be worthy of their degraded status rather than hold the same designer to account for producing by design, by intention, vast amounts of unnecessary pain and suffering for some. And so I think you’re not going to ever assign equal responsibility to this divine creator for creating these ‘less than’ conditions but will rationalize and excuse this divine affliction with a not too subtle form of blame-the-victim in order to maintain the divine narrative you want, you wish for, you wax poetically about.

    Also, historically, why did this creator deem our human needs are best met and our existence ‘validated’ by an ancestry filled with being prey? It doesn’t fit the explanatory model you’ve presented of a loving and caring divine creator… unless massive amounts of unnecessary pain, suffering, and designed lingering before death is part of what it means to demonstrate such caring and concern.

    I think your narrative meets only your myopic religious need only by framing reality in a very inaccurate, biased, and dangerous way based not on it but by rationalization that assumes the conclusion and then sets out to select only that which fits it.

    • Tildeb It is one thing for you to ask a good question (- If the good things we experience are a validation then the negative experiences must be invalidation) and it is quite another to go on to tell me what I would answer ( – blame the victim) and then criticize “my” answer. The Bible doesn’t give us an answer to this question but it clearly teaches us that “blame the victim” is NOT the answer (that is the primary teaching of the book of Job). The way I see things is like walking into a room in which you see big containers of flour, men and women kneading dough and designing various breads and pastries, baking them and selling them. I would come to the conclusion that this place is a bakery. If I were to see a few implements hanging on the wall, or a few activities that don’t fit the picture of a bakery that would not change my conclusion. The vast majority of what goes on in the world is kindness. When I see suffering it doesn’t change my assessment of the world because the overall picture doesn’t change on the basis of a factor that is clearly an aberration and not the norm. This is not trying to minimize the suffering that people experience – it is deep and weighty – but the kindness is simply far deeper and far weightier. And I say this as a son of a nation that experienced the holocaust. There is one additional factor in my world-view and that is that I see existence itself as a positive experience even under the circumstances of pain. 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

      • tildeb says:

        So, explain in your model of divine and deliberate love the wise design to predicate all life on a prey/predator system that involves either privation/starvation or killing that involves great pain. You say this is deliberate. You say this is a design that demonstrates love. To me, your argument demonstrates the puddle analogy.

        • tildeb I acknowledge that there are serious questions against my understanding of life – but they hardly make a dent in the overall picture. The animal that got eaten experienced years of multitudes of goodness before it suffered and the time of suffering as deep and weighty as it is does not erase years of breathing, seeing, eating, hearing smelling, digesting, etc. – Imagine if someone were to tell you that you need to experience a few minutes of excruciating suffering in order to live several years of goodness – would you accept the deal? The sum-total of the experience was positive. 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • tildeb says:

            That’s just a rationalization you offer that doesn’t address the facts. In the minute it might take you to read this comment, about 70 children under the age of 5 die. And die horribly. In terrible pain. Many of those have not ‘enjoyed’ their short lives of suffering and pain at all. To then tell them to their faces that they should feel special for the privilege of experiencing this life and appreciate a loving god for this ‘wise’ and ‘designed’ suffering seems to me to be a very strange way of demonstrating care and compassion if – and this is my criticism – this god is both loving and able to do things differently… but doesn’t.

            Furthermore, to use Job as a means to say you aren’t even allowed to question this very poor treatment as ‘loving intention’ – intentional treatment that is deemed criminal in human justice – seems to me to be the height of not just towering disdain, but a brutal arrogance at the peak of audacious haughtiness. It doesn’t even come up to the most basic standard of decency, of treating others as you wish to be treated. No amount of rationalizing this lack of decency in the name of piety will overcome these brute facts. If you think such treatment like this is ‘love’ then I do not think this word means what you think it means.

          • Tildeb Each of the children that die experienced life. Each of them would fight to continue experiencing life – so the title of the grand total of their life is not “suffering” – perhaps if we contrast their life with the life of others we see it in a negative light but if you look at each of these individual lives – the sum total is positive. Again – this is not to minimize an iota of someone else’s suffering – my point is don’t ignore the vast majority of the picture because of some of the details of the picture – as important as they are. And again – you put words into my mouth in order to criticize – I never said that you are “not allowed” to question. The book of Job doesn’t teach that. It is Job, who questioned God throughout the book, that is pointed to as the one who spoke correctly, over and against his friends who had been condemning him thinking that they were “sticking up” for God – (42:7) 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

  2. Dina says:

    Interesting that Tilly should talk about treating others as you wish to be treated. This is a foundational principle of Judaism. And Judaism’s record is pretty good in this regard. Not perfect! There is no such thing as a perfect society. But pretty good.

    • Dina says:

      If we were as brutal and arrogant as Tilly claims, we would not expect to see the kind of altruism and loving kindness that has typified religious communities throughout the ages, but rather the opposite.

      • tildeb says:

        I never claimed that, Dina. You may wish to revisit my point.

        I pointed out that the idea that we were designed to be prey/predator inside a system predicated on this – and the suffering it must intentionally contains to remain consistent in this design claim – is hardly a ‘validation’ of a benign and loving creator.

        • Dina says:

          You also said, “…seems to me to be the height of not just towering disdain, but a brutal arrogance at the peak of audacious haughtiness.” By the way, it is incandescently clear to anyone who has followed your dialogues with Rabbi B. that he treats you kindly, respectfully, and humbly, and you do not repay him in kind, to understate the case. Do you really treat others the way you wish to be treated? “Full bore reciprocity,” to use your term?

          I fail to see how attacking the character of your debating opponents advances the cause of truth.

          • tildeb says:

            Again, you misunderstand; the reference was to the character of a ‘loving’ Designer indicated from the Book of Job (that Rabbi B. raised) who tells the person suffering from the ‘loving’ intent, “Where were you…!”

            I wish you’d pay a little more attention to understanding the context of my comments first rather than jumping to such negative conclusions. The point I raise is relevant to the post and relevant to something raised in defense by Rabbi B. from my questioning of his thesis rather than some kind of personal attack you seem determined to impose on me. I do not see how anyone can assume benign and loving intention from a designer who supposedly designs a biosphere predicated on incredible suffering, including human children the Rabbi insists should feel privileged to endure. To me that vast amount of contrary evidence doesn’t fit the model being proposed… unless divine ‘love’ means something unrelated to the definition of the term.

          • Dina and Tildeb To Dina – let’s stick to the subject at hand – Tildeb has been polite enough and the evil that has been done in the name of religion entitles him/her to some righteous indignation To Tildeb – Yes there is a vast amount of suffering in the world – but there is a far vaster amount of goodness – the relationship is like the ocean compared to a bucket of water – it is more logical to attribute the bucket to our human fallibility and inability to understand than it is to deny/ignore the ocean of goodness 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • tildeb says:

            I think it’s easier to think in generalities but when you have to face up to an individual’s suffering that is all encompassing, that alters the lives of loved ones with tragedy – then the moral lesson hits home on the individual level: this is horrible – for everyone – and no rationalizations about one’s unconscionable suffering (if it didn’t have to be this way) is just a bucket compared to an ocean of water justifies or mitigates it one iota. It is the universe itself that has to be completely and utterly indifferent for such situations to endure and repeat so much, so often, forever.

            You also forget that this entire biosphere is predicated – designed in your words – on this never-ending suffering. Your bucket to ocean analogy is exactly backwards.

          • Tildeb The ocean bucket analogy was not presented to mitigate anyone’s suffering nor to justify it. It was meant as a perspective on existence as a whole. And how is the analogy “backwards” if for every individual that suffers there are billions enjoying existence? 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • tildeb says:

            Because you assume the conclusion that the enjoyment vastly outweighs the suffering. I think you have got this exactly backwards when you consider that life – all life here on Earth – is predicated not on joy, not on love, but on being an integral part of a prey/predator system. Such a ‘designed’ system doesn’t fit with the model you’re advancing but entails all manner of either starvation, which is not joyful, or being eaten, which is not joyful. I think your assumption is wrong. And this draws into direct question and by brute fact contradicts this idea of a “Creator who so lovingly designed us also provided for all of our needs. We have air to breath, water to drink and food to eat. Surely God also provided for our basic emotional needs as well.” The prey/predator system – one we must function in by killing and eating living things or starve to death – is hardly a good example of a design intended to demonstrate love. I think it is a design to demonstrate utter indifference to the quality of life of some.

          • Tildeb I find it interesting that you attribute motivations to my argument when my argument is the practical mathematical one while yours is the philosophical abstract. Practical fact – there are billions of creatures that are enjoying existence at the present moment. Practical fact – there are many creatures that are suffering at the present moment. The numbers of the first group vastly overwhelm the numbers of the second group. You are looking at the world from a philosophical/abstract angle. Why? 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • Dina says:

            I once heard someone say, can’t remember who the quote is from, that believers have to answer the question of suffering; atheists have to answer everything else :).

          • Dina says:

            Thanks for clarifying, Tilly. It didn’t seem that way to me, but your explanation is fair enough.

  3. Nikola says:

    It is almost impossible to have a debate between an atheist and a believer. They have vastly different view of the world – different definitions of life, reality, meaning… And I mean completely different. Atheist views the world as a consequence of random events that don’t have deeper meaning and are limited to the reality we can perceive – with the beginning and the end of life in the boundaries of the observable universe. There is nothing left after one dies, and hence all the causes and consequences of one’s life are beginning with the birth (aside from genetic construction which is inherited from the limited time in the past), and ending with the death.
    Believer views this world as a transitional state that is just a small sample of the vast reality that exists outside of the boundaries of the material universe. There is no beginning and there is no clear end. All things that happen to a human being in this life are just a small sample of what that human will experience in the timeline of existence in the spiritual realm. So, even an apparent suffering in this short life cannot be viewed as a drastic punishment. If we add to this possible interpretation that proposes one or more reincarnations, then things become even less consequential.
    Believers learn a valuable lesson in the book of Job – we don’t know and will never know the complete truth – the design and workings of material and spiritual worlds. A blueprint that is put together by an infinite mind cannot be crammed into a limited mind of a human being. However, we are given enough information on how we are supposed to live our lives in order to prosper in this and future lives.
    Judging God on the bases of the experiences in this life would be like when a person judges a dentist for the pain he feels when fixing a tooth. It’s a small intervention needed for the much longer future enjoyment. I see no problem there.

    P.S. I don’t understand the premise of the “predator-prey” system. First of all, humans are on the top of the food chain, and have been since the beginning. Then we can only talk about the suffering of animals, but I think that misses the point here. Also, if one reads Torah carefully, it would seem like that was actually not God’s original design. Just after the corruption of humans and animals by their own actions the things went “wrong”. Also, God promises, through prophets, that the future world is going to be exactly the peaceful place that atheist are saying is impossible to achieve.
    God did not create robots without free will. If that was the case, God would have all the responsibility for what is happening. God decided to give humans free will, but also share responsibility. One is impossible without the other. I’m sometimes puzzled how most atheist don’t understand that. It’s logically and even philosophically completely valid system. (I’m not saying that atheist should accept that worldview, just that they should accept that it’s a valid and self-consistent system).

    • tildeb says:

      Nikola, one way to understand the difference between believer and non believer is a matter of knowing the differences between a premise and a conclusion, a hypothesis and a theory, the role assumption, assertion, and assignment play in the formation of our projections. In short, the theist approaches the world with an a priori pious belief in which they implicitly trust what they’ve been taught to trust, whereas an atheist has come to the conclusion that these kinds beliefs do not deserve levels of confidence and trust.

      So when an atheist questions the assumptions, assertions, and assignments (like I have responding to the thesis of the post) the theist must rely on and presents as if true, claims as if descriptive of an independent reality, then it is going to seem as you say.

      But we all navigate the world as the atheist does in all ways… except in the matter of religious belief. You want to point at the atheist in this case as if there’s something special going on with him or her, whereas the atheist knows perfectly well who is making the special case here, who is awarding privilege to an imported belief, who is demanding some special exemption from validating causal claims. The reflection on this difference lies squarely on the shoulders of believers… the ones least willing to allow uncertainty and sincere doubt much if any leash. This is why so many atheists actually know a fair bit about theology. Been there, done that. For example, I did a thesis on Job and know it has at least two if not three authors. Does that matter? Does that affect your level of trust and confidence in it’s ‘central’ message?

      • Tildeb It is you who is working with a priori assumptions about theists. It was you who used statistics to make a claim and when shown that the statistics do not support your claim you moved the goal post (relating to crime rates in society). Your portrait of theists is built on bad examples – and there are plenty of bad examples of atheists and atheist thinking. Let’s stick to facts and not paint prejudiced pictures.

        1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

        • tildeb says:

          You have a strange memory. There is a robust correlation between religiosity and the opposite of what religious claimants try to be of benefit. That correlation hasn’t gone anywhere, Rabbi B..

          If one were to be born on a remote island, one would not, could not, adduced your religious beliefs from nature, from one’s environment. One has to be taught the Jewish faith. That’s not a painted picture any more than is my assertion that one comes to a specific religious faith by an a priori means. You must place trust and confidence first. That’s why it requires faith.

          Granted we come ready and able to assign agency – yes, even atheists! – but this tendency is the very thing hijacked by religious recruiters to gain adherents. It’s a manipulation. So, again, this is not something I import as if a belief but an explanation of how the religious meme is transmitted.

          So when it comes to examining the differences between believer and non believer, I stand by my claim that it is the believer who is in need of reexamination of why they change their thinking when it comes to religion and only religion.

      • Nikola says:

        Let me start from the end – You cannot be certain that the book of Job is written by several authors – thus you should not say that you “know”. You might be 60%, 75%, or even 99% confident that that’s the case, but you cannot know. The essence of any scientific endeavor is to be certain to some level of confidence, never completely. There are no absolute truths in science, as opposed to faith. That’s another point of separation between an atheist and a believer.
        Further, the hypothesis that the book of Job is not written by one author has absolutely zero effect on the veracity and implications of that book. The book itself does not state that it was written by one person. So to answer your question, for a believer it does not and should not matter how many people wrote down the account of Job.
        Now, an atheist is free to employ the tools of science to discredit or disprove any statement that is written in the Bible (Tanakh). And in some cases that is a valid methodology even from the believer’s standpoint (although very few cases). However, in most cases it’s impossible for scientific method (materialistic) to prove or disprove any statement that comes from the realm of material and spiritual. And science does not have a tool to disprove that spiritual realm exists. Simply, it is foolish to use science to state “something does not exist”.
        And this is true not only for such an abstract notions that belong to a spiritual world, but also for well established concepts in everyday life – such as “what is moral?”, “what is love?”, etc. Science is just not equipped to answer those questions.
        I have t point out one more thing – science is changing, sometimes drastically, over time. Notions that were around for centuries are completely replaced and sometimes rejected by newer notions. Such flexibility is needed in science and is completely natural. But faith does not allow for such flexibility. Tanakh was written long time ago, and despite many attacks from both atheist and other religions it survived and there was no need for “a second edition”. You have to admit that this is a strong testimony to it’s value, even when judged by materialistic criteria. In some fundamental aspects the science came about to agree with the account in the Torah, after many centuries of holding different opinion. Glaring example is the beginning of the existence of known universe. Until fairly recently, mainstream scientific opinion was that universe had no beginning, that it was eternal.

        So, after this long departure from the main topic of discussion in these comments, I would say that when we are addressing the question such as – Why is there suffering? – we are exiting the domain of strictly scientific reasoning, and hence any attempt to use only materialistic approach and logic will fail. So, while I can respect your position and objections, I just can’t take them seriously (in a spiritual sense), because they are coming from a completely inadequate and limited domain.
        Same would be true if I tried to argue with mathematicians on the validity of using number pi, or perfect circle, since these things clearly cannot be materialized in our world. I would not be taken seriously in such an argument, because I would be coming from a strictly material domain, and totally ignore Platonism.

        P.S. Although you did thesis on Job, there is a difference when one reads it as a believer or an atheist (or strictly textual critic). From the atheist perspective you correctly noticed that God “tells the person suffering from the ‘loving’ intent, “Where were you…!””… but as a believer I don’t see it as a condescending or snarky remark – although in a slightly critical tone, God was explaining to Job the reality of being limited being vs being unlimited being. You also omitted to mention that Job, even after he went through the whole ordeal, was happy to “see” God and affirm the existence of God. As a matter of fact that would indicate that the whole time he was actually afraid that there may be no God.
        And, again, since you did thesis on the Job, you should have noticed that one of the major themes is the temporary nature of this life including all the good and bad things that happen) and a bigger picture of a spiritual world that lasts much longer.

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