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Good for Body and Soul
by Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover

According to a recent article in the New York Times, there is a trend in many restaurants today to switch to “green” technology and materials such as solar panels, electricity from biodiesel generators using leftover cooking oils, biodegradable packaging, organic ingredients and recycling. You might think that these technologies are expensive and inconvenient. However, proprietors are finding that they actually save money when they use the more environmentally friendly devices. For example, Mr. Jose Duart, a restaurant owner from Boston, says that by composting he has cut down on garbage pickups, reducing his costs by about 45 percent. He said motion sensors in the bathrooms for the fans and lighting have helped cut energy costs by as much as $2,000 a year.

The trend towards more environmentally friendly workplaces, and the benefits they bring, parallels a development that we see as the world moves closer to the final Redemption. For most of human history, there was a conflict between our personal needs and desires and the moral imperative. Life was seen as a never-ending struggle between our base human impulses and higher ideals. We followed rules, obeyed the commandments because we believed we should. But inwardly we rebelled against them; they opposed our inner desires. The discipline was imposed from without.

As we approach the days of Moshiach, though, when G-dliness will be revealed in the world, this conflict will be eliminated. No longer will we view performing mitzvoth as something imposed upon us from outside. There will be a harmony between body and soul, when the needs and desires of the animal soul will complement those of the G-dly soul. What is right and good will feel most natural; our bodies will take pleasure in carrying out G-d’s will, no less than the soul. We will fully realize that doing mitzvoth is the best way to bring the world to its perfection, the ultimate purpose of our being.

Even if we have not yet reached that stage, we can prepare for the coming revelation by performing mitzvoth now, in the time of exile. There is a special merit that one gets for fulfilling mitzvoth during exile, even without understanding the purpose. This merit will no longer be present when Moshiach comes, and in fact, says Rabbi Joseph I. Schneerson, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, when Moshiach comes we will miss the days of exile, when this merit could be achieved. So let’s not waste another moment and fill them all with mitzvoth, as we prepare for the ultimate revelation of Moshiach.

Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover is chairman of the Center of Magnetohydrodynamic Studies and Training at Ben-Gurion University.



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