Are We Adults or Children?

Since we are after getting the most pleasure, joy, and happiness out of life, God arranges for two types of pleasure in the world in order to allow for Free Will—one that works toward the goal of relationship with the Infinite and one that works against the goal of relationship with the Infinite.

This system of contrasting pleasure options with opposing effects is paralleled in our world as the Dinner Dilemma: What will I eat for dinner—will I eat salad or will I eat chocolate?

On the one hand, chocolate tastes a lot better but may lead me to a cavity, a couple of extra pounds, and is not all that healthy. On the other hand, salad is healthier, but doesn't taste like chocolate.

Now, what if salad tasted as good as chocolate or chocolate was as good for you as salad?

There would be no choice.

Similarly, God set up a world in which you have certain pleasures that are initially gratifying and initially stimulating but the effects of those pleasures fleet away and can be harmful in the long-run, and you have certain pleasures that may not be all that initially stimulating but are ultimately gratifying and beneficial in the long-run.

For example, there was once a young lad named Eliyahu. He was but 8 years old when his mom said to him, "I'll give you five jellybeans after you finish eating your entire meal including the vegetables." Young Eliyahu understood why his mom is making him eat all the food on his plate before he gets the meager five jellybeans; he understood that his mom is one of those mean and rotten people called parents whose role in life is to deprive their children of as much pleasure, joy, and happiness as possible.

One day, Eliyahu's parents went out for a night on the town and left him at home with a babysitter. It only took twenty minutes for the babysitter to pass out on the couch, at which point Eliyahu remembered the Jewish lesson that people are after getting the most pleasure, joy, and happiness out of life. "What a better way to accomplish this," thought Eliyahu, "than to jump into the two-pound jar of jellybeans that mom keeps up in the cabinet."

So, Eliyahu climbed up onto the counter, pulled down the jar of jellybeans, and scarfed down every last one.

Ten minutes later, Eliyahu found himself puking his guts up in the bathroom, saying, "I'm never listening to another Jewish lesson again."

Of course, the real reason Eliyahu's mom is only giving five jellybeans, and only after he finishes his meal, is not because she is trying to deprive Eliyahu of pleasure, joy, and happiness.

Just the opposite is true.

Eliyahu's mom wants him to achieve the ultimate in pleasure, joy, and happiness, and it is because of that greater good that she holds him back from the self-destruction of unbridled jellybean eating.

Adultish versus Childish
This exemplifies the difference in the Childish definition of pleasure and the Adultish definition of pleasure. The Childish definition states that pleasure is what it feels like when I do it. Whereas the Adultish definition states that pleasure is the totality of how it is going to affect me.

Now, what about a society in which much of the population are adults chronologically, but make their choices about pleasure based on the Childish definition?

Welcome to the scary world in which we live.

This is the type of willful ignorance at the root of the AIDS problem and the drug problem plaguing much of the world. Of course, when adults make their choices with the same sagacity as an 8-year-old, without paying much heed to the possible outcomes, effects, and consequences to their actions, the results are going to be chaotic and catastrophic.

Author's Note: Rabbi Eliyahu Yaakov is scheduled to be on a North American speaking tour February 5-23. For details go to http://www.lightuntoournation.com/lectures-and-events/ .