Shoftim: The beginning and end of thoughts

Who doesn’t struggle with thoughts?

Steven Genack

Judaism Clouds

It’s estimated that we have 50,000 thoughts a day. Is there a strategy and philosophy about the thinking process to adopt?

Tnach and Kabbalah address this issue. Kabbalistically, we are told that the first few seconds of “negative” thoughts implanted in our brain are not our own, but sent from our negative chamber in heavens. It’s our responsibility to disregard these thoughts. As the parsha so poetically says this week, Shoftim Ve’Shotrim titn be’sharecha. The drash is that we must place safeguards to prevent evil from penetrating us. First we must be shoftim, and judge the thought. If it is negative we must be shotrim and destroy it, by disregarding it.

The Torah is the most creative document to date. Einstein mimicked this idea when he said, “Logic will take you from A to B, but imagination will take you anywhere.” The first verse of the Torah begins, Breishis bara, In the beginning G-d created. But based on drash it means, In the beginning comes brius, creativity. This is a mandate for this world, to engage in creative thought.

We know the verse in Mishlei (19), that says, “There are many thoughts in the heart of man, but the counsel of G-d prevails.” I have heard two interpretations of this verse. The common one is that man has many thoughts, but only the one that G-d wants to materialize will take effect.

Another beautiful interpretation is that the verse is read, “There are many thoughts in the heart of man, “based on the counsel of G-d,” meaning all are thoughts come from G-d - that would be on the positive and creative side.

If one goes with the first interpretation, then we must generate many paths to achieve a result. Regressing to one-way paths and lazy thinking is scorned upon. According to the second path, we must celebrate the fact that G-d is leading our thought process, meaning we are being showered with thoughts directly from above; what a privilege.

Perhaps a philosophy to deal with thoughts is to try to destroy the bad one’s after a few seconds and to embrace the creative one’s either as men of ideas or as recipients of G-d’s thinking process.