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Section:  Avodah   Category: Innocent Observations
Rebels, Malachim, Tzaddikim, and Penguins

There are four different approaches to interacting with the public at large. On the two opposite ends of the spectrum sit the penguin and the rebel. The penguin is your typical gutless fellow who either doesn't have the mental capacity to think for himself or is just to scared or lazy. He therefore takes his cues from the people around him. His whole life is just one big imitation of what he sees from others. It's a safe approach because he will not stand out and never have to defend his actions.

The rebel on the other hand is looking to stand out. He looks around to see what everybody else is doing and does exactly the opposite. While he often finds trouble, it is okay because that is what he wants. But the truth he is very similar to the penguin in that he really has no opinion about anything. All his actions are guided by those around him, only for whatever strange reason he feels the need to do the opposite.

Since we all have a purpose in this world and are intelligent enough to seek out our purpose in the greater scheme of things we don't fit into any of the above categories. We shape ourselves by analyzing the guidance and experience and of our parents, teachers, friends, and the world around us to create our unique selves. Looking at it in this light each person will be a non-conformist since his life will by definition be shaped to follow his unique purpose in this world.

So here is where it gets tricky. Since we are all different how do we deal with the rest of the world that is not like ourselves and may not agree with the way we do things? This is where the Malachim and Tzaddikim come in. The Malach type lives his own existence. He could care less about the rest of the world. He lives his life with his ideals down to the last minute detail with no consideration for what the rest of society is doing. Nor does he care how society views him.

The tzaddik on the other hand has a strong relationship with society. He wants to conform but his desire to do the right thing is even stronger. Driven by his love for both Hashem and for people, he spends his life reconciling the two and trying to pull society over to the right side together with him. This devotion to people has a downside in that instead of spending all his time raising himself towards the Shamayim he struggles with other peoples inertia to lift them off the ground even a few millimeters.

So which approach is better, soar to the heavens and leave the rest of the world behind or try to lift the whole world with you and suffice yourself with the help you've given to others? The Chassam Sofer in his Kuntras Pituchei Choisam says the latter is the way to go. He contrasts Avrohom and Chanoch. He says that Chanoch was so Kadosh that he no longer could even coexist with his body as his neshama took off for Shamayim. Avrohom never reached that level. But we see that the Torah praises Avrohom "L'maan Asher Yitzaveh Es Banav V'Es Baiso Acharav V'Shamru Derech Hashem", his greatness was that he left a legacy of generations that were shomrei torah u'mitzvos. The Chassam Sofer says that Hashem does not need more Malachim. He has plenty in Shamayim. Someone who can make the world a better place and make the people better servants of Hashem, that's what it is all about.

Now most of us need not worry. We still struggle every day and every moment with trying to figure out what exactly is the good path and what our purpose is. But when you finally get there don't forget it's not only about yourself.


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