Monday, October 02, 2006

The Source of Addiction

Rabbi Chaim Ibn Attar (1696-1743) explains the supernatural effect that Adam's sin had on the world. As part of Adam's punishment, all physical pleasures which feel "good" have some bad mixed into them. This explains why wheat's kernels, used to make many staple foods, are naturally mixed with the stalk's chaff. Even though not all good has its bad mixed in so visibly like wheat, the hidden evils within physicals pleasures are still very dangerous. Some fleeting physical pleasures cause an evil to be rooted inside a person, which creates an unnatural addiction to that particular pleasure. This is true about smoking, alcohol, financial profit, and other worldly pursuits. If a person has one hundred coins, he desires two hundred[1]. The physical good itself creates an evil addiction which can ultimately destroy a person. The Talmud says[2] that there is a small limb in a person—one's sense of pursuit of physical fulfillment—which if fed grows hungry, and if starved is satisfied. Adam understood this underlying principle, and so he wrote[3] that Shabbos is a day which is wholly good, with no evil mixed into the pleasures of Shabbos.

[1] Ecclesiastes Rabbah 1:34
[2] Sukkah 52b, Jerusalem Kesubos 5:8
[3] See Psalms 92:1-2

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