Ariel Ben Avraham – Ecclesiastes: The illusion of vanity and the reality of love (XVII)
“If you see oppression of the poor and deprivation of justice and righteousness in the province, wonder not about the matter, for the Highest over the high waits and there are higher ones over them.” (Ecclesiastes 5:7)
Some people say that the evil in this world is enough, while others wonder about how much worse can it become. We all are responsible for the wickedness we see and don’t see in this world, for evil has remained or increased by the hand of men.
Let’s remind ourselves that God created evil not as a choice but as a reference to choose goodness, and that evil does not manifest by itself but by concrete actions of human beings. The rest of “evil” can be done by the actions of certain animals or by forces of nature against the benefit of humans. Thus we may consider an earthquake or a hurricane as evil as the attacks of alligators, tigers, vultures or snakes.
Here we are talking about the evil men do as “the oppression of the poor, and the deprivation of justice and righteousness” as specific transgressions against the goodness we owe to each other. As the source of goodness, God’s love does not condone evil or wickedness but makes us accountable for our negligence when we are able to be and do goodness to others but we choose not to.
We can understand the last part of the verse in the sense that God is the Highest over all, who waits for all to be good to each other, instead of being or feeling “higher” to deny the goodness needed by others.
“And the haughtiness [lit. loftiness] of the earth is in everything; even the king is subservient to the field. Whoever loves silver will not be sated with silver and he who loves a multitude without increase, this too is vanity.” (5:8-9)
Loftiness as arrogance is one of the negative traits and trends in consciousness that keeps us separate from others. King Solomon bluntly states that no one escapes haughtiness in this world, even a king bows to the boundaries of human condition in the field of life. Arrogance makes us insatiable under ego’s fantasies and illusions for which nothing is plenty enough, and this is pure vanity.
“With the increase of good, its eaters increase, and what is the advantage to its master, except seeing [with] his eyes? The sleep of the laborer is sweet whether he eats little or much, but the satiety of the rich does not allow him to sleep.” (5:10-11)
We mentioned that our eyes take us to what we see or desire (Numbers 15:39), and here we are invited to reflect on the real advantage of what we pursue in life. We were warned already about the increasing desire for having more than enough, and falling into attachments, obsessions and addictions that bring us vexation and frustration.
If we are clever enough to live with the satisfaction of not creating dependence or addictions to anything that invites unceasing desire, we will sleep in peace; unlike the restlessness caused by dependency.
Kochav Yaakov, Shomron (Samaria), IsraelAriel Ben Avraham (f. Zapata) was born in Cartagena, Colombia in 1958. After studying Cultural Anthropology in Bogotá moved to Chicago in 1984 where he worked as a television writer, reporter and producer for 20 years. In the 1990’s he produced video documentaries related to art, music, history and culture such as “Latin American Trails: Guatemala” distributed by Facets.org. Most of his life he studied ancient spiritual traditions and mysticism of major religions, understanding the mystic experience as the individual means to connect with the Creator of all. Since 2004 he studies and writes about Jewish mysticism and spirituality mainly derived from the Chassidic tradition, and the practical philosophy of the teachings of Jewish mystic sages. The book “God’s Love” is the compilation of many years studying and learning Jewish mysticism. The messages of his book are part of the content, exercises and processes of a series of seminars, lectures and retreats that he facilitates in Israel.