The Blame Game 👉
he problem with our generation is that we think we know it all. And in truth, information is easily accessible. One search on Google and we can diagnose our medical symptoms, learn how to tile a floor and how to apply makeup like a super model. We are indeed, as they say, “Jacks of all trades and masters of none.”
The arrogant mantra of our age is, “I know. I know.” In other words, “Don’t tell me anything because I am a composite of brilliance and I can do it on my own.” Those feelings of intellectual haughtiness don’t just hover over our relationships with “inferior’ interlocutors, but also come between us and G-d. After all, G-d helps those who help themselves, right? So we do what we think is the best thing to do. But that arrogance, my friends, is a Trojan-horse injected into us by none other than the serpent in the Garden of Eden.
Unlike a vaccine, it aims not to protect us, but rather to inflate us like hot-air balloons with feelings of superiority so that there is no room for G-d, nor for the inoculating words of the Torah or those who disseminate its wisdom.
But what happens to the egoist in us when the balloon pops, i.e., things go wrong, and all the “hot-air” which buoyed us up is lost in the vast expanse? The result is classic and predictable: It’s everyone else’s fault. The Blame Game begins. When we fail or things don’t go as planned, we point a finger at everyone we had shut up and eschewed. We criticize the G-d we’d been avoiding saying, “G-d, why did You let this happen to me?”
When we succeed, we are sole proprietors, but when we fail, all our demons become our partners: We blame one and all. “My parents were too permissive; my parents were too tough; it’s my wife’s cooking; my boss’s attitude; it’s the scale; it’s my hormones; it’s my cousin’s fault, my sister’s, my brother’s, my partner’s, the dog’s…… La la la la la la. Adam and Eve sang that very same song, the self-expunging, self-pacifying one that serenaded them right out of Eden.
In this week’s Torah reading, the first man and woman sinned and ate of the forbidden fruit. Instead of taking responsibility and deserved blame for transgressing the one commandment they had, Adam blamed Eve and God; Eve blamed the snake. And the fruit didn’t fall far from the forbidden tree. After Cain, their son, murdered his brother, Abel, and G-d took him to task, Cain blamed G-d. Cain reasoned that if God had accepted his lackluster sacrifice, he wouldn’t have been driven to jealousy and fratricide.
But let’s be clear for those with great excuses. Whether someone is wrongfully or rightfully blamed for your woes, YOU are still to blame. For the Talmud teaches that there is no suffering without sin. The secular world calls it “karma”; in Judaism we call it midda kneged midda, G-d’s exact execution of justice, measure for measure. For example, if you steal from someone you will lose money one way or another, in the stock market or bankruptcy or an infinite of other ways. And so the arrogance that vacated our fear of G-d soon becomes a vessel for the fear of everything else, i.e., the courts, the medical diagnosis, the IRS, the Coronavirus. It is called “fallen fear” because well placed fear is fear of G-d and nothing else. If we would have adhered to that fear, we would be on the right track. So stop reacting like a dog who is mad at the stick which hits him, but rather acknowledge the One Who wields the stick.
The All-knowing God asks Adam and Eve a very important question, “Ayeka?”-- “Where are you?” Certainly He knew where they were, just as He knew where Abel was when He questioned Cain as to his brother’s whereabouts. The question is one meant to arouse introspection, not geographical coordinates. The question is meant to give man a chance to repent and say, “I’m sorry. I messed up. It was me and ALL me. It’s MY fault.”
The last three letters of the first three words of creation spell the word “truth”/emet. So, if you want to be in sync with creation and create yourself again and properly, get to the truth of who you are. It is irrelevant if your search reveals you are not that superstar, hot- shot, business genius that you fancied yourself to be. Either way, the worms will eat us just the same when we die. Being honest with yourself is the biggest aid to advancing yourself in life. Stop thinking you know it all and make room for G-d’s words. As Isaiah admonished, “Your wisdom and your knowledge are the source of your troubles.” It is best to follow G-d’s wisdom Whose words created the world. Hence, it’s a tiny leap to realize that those same words sustain us. To edit out your G-dly DNA, i.e. violate the Torah, is suicide in this world and the next.
King David taught us how to take the blame we deserve, to beg for forgiveness. G-d loved David not because he was perfect, but because he acknowledged when he was wrong and strove to improve his life’s journey with God as his GPS. Hence it is through him that Mashiach will come.
There will always be hurdles before us. That’s life. It’s all a big test to bring out the best in us. Even if others are entirely wrong, you BE right! Don’t wallow in the shadows of the Valley of Excuses. Let there be light!