Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Perfection of Being Imperfect

I am not perfect. I have wronged, I have lied, I have belittled, and I have cheated. I have done inexcusable things, committed unforgivable acts, and negatively affected a number of lives. You, believe it or not, are also not perfect. Odds are, you have lied, belittled, and cheated. We humans are inherently imperfect beings. Throughout the course of my life, I’ve developed an understanding of perfection as being unattainable. I’ve come to grips with the fact that imperfection is reality. That being said, I have come to believe that there is a certain sense of rightness that comes with being imperfect. That belief has given me the will to see good in life, has helped restore my faith in God, and has given me a reason to endlessly pursue self-actualization.

I’ve longed wondered why our God, a perfect God, would create a world riddled with crime, murder, and deceit. I’ve long wondered why our God would create a Jew whose nature prohibits him from living a perfect Torah life. I understand that we’ve been graced with free will, but that explanation doesn’t examine why God didn’t create the human race as being perfect beings in a world void of imperfection, thus giving us free will, but eliminating the possibility of making imperfect choices. Furthermore, Jews are taught that we have been created in the image of God, from which we can reasonably infer that being comparable to God is accompanied by God’s unequivocal perfection. But we know that is not the case.

I am no Torah scholar, of that I have no doubt. However, I am fortunate enough to be a member of a religion that allows one to explore, create, and favor various answers to complex questions such as this one. In my study of the works of Rabbi David Aaron, I have come to terms with being imperfect, and I have learned to see the value within being flawed.

To me, it is not at all heretical to question if God made a mistake during His creation of mankind. Not only would absolute perfection be easier for mortals, but it would make for an easier divine reign as well. This world, a world in which the good die young, the undeserving are unjustifiably punished, and awful things happen to righteous people, doesn’t appear to be a world created by the God that we all so revere. It’s difficult to concede that our God is perfect without examining why He created such an undeniably imperfect world.

In a perfect world, I would never have tried to lie my way out of an unfortunate situation in ninth grade. In a perfect world, my family would sit down together for dinner every night. In a perfect world, religion wouldn’t be so confusing and burdensome. There would be no war. There would be no sickness. There would be no bad. That may sound ideal, but without all of those imperfections, where is the opportunity to grow? Where is the opportunity to seek something greater than ourselves? Where is the opportunity to find meaning in this life?

The reason I view imperfection as being okay is because it gives me a reason to strive to better myself. I do lie, I have cheated, and I am oftentimes deceitful. And, as a way of trying to better myself, I’ve come to accept these negative traits, and subsequently vowed to correct them. Those flaws have given my life meaning. My imperfections have created goals, they’ve given me a reason to live.

I once struggled mightily with this question. At one point, it pushed me to the brink of giving up on God. But when I came to realize that imperfections are necessary to inspire meaning and goals, I saw the beauty within this chaotic world. Had I not lied in ninth grade, I would never have decided to transform myself as a student. If my family was perfect, I wouldn’t be close to the person I am today. If religion wasn’t so confusing, then how on earth could it be so exciting and thought provoking? Without imperfection, there would be no advancement. We would be a boring, stagnant people.

For those of you struggling with this very question, I am by no means suggesting that my answer is the correct one. There is no correct answer. But the beauty of Judaism is that you can find an answer that best suits you. This one best suits me.

I will continue to lead an imperfect life within this imperfect world that our perfect God has created. I will do so with a deeper appreciation for imperfections, for I now understand that God has given us the opportunity to find meaning in our lives. God has given us a reason to live. God has created imperfection so that those who genuinely desire a better world will emerge to change the course of history. So, if you’re not perfect, don’t fret. None of us are, and that’s perfectly okay.

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