Sunday, April 19, 2015

What a weird thing the human brain is...

What a weird thing the human brain is...

One of the superstitious guys at shul told me yesterday that his life changed once he started going to the mikva every day.  I didn't write down the claim, word for word, but he said something like, " Ever since I recommitted myself to mikva, God has been sending me unbelievable parnasah opportunities."

All I did was congratulate him, and wish him continued success, but meanwhile I was thinking the following simultaneous thoughts:

  • True/True: Unrelated Or, it may be true that (a) he goes to the mikva and (b) he's making more money, but how do we know that one is causing the other?
  • Is this a Dumbo's feather situation? Maybe this belief in mikva magic is making him more confident, and more willing to take risks and chase opportunities? That might be what's behind his new-found success.
  • What would the Spanish Rishonim say? Would they agree that God really cares about something like mikva? Would they allow that He rewards you for dunking (a custom, not a commandment) if the rest of your house is not in order?  Would they be comfortable with the idea of God taking note of something so minor, and compensating it so munificently? Isn't it something of an insult to suggest that God can be so carelessly manipulated?
And most surprisingly...
  • Can it hurt? Can I get in on this?  Like I said "What a weird thing the human brain is..." because while I was thinking the aforementioned skeptical/logical thoughts I was simultaneously entertaining superstitious hopes of my own.*
On the walk home, I decided this: My superstitious friend and I aren't at all different. Just he articulates his groundless ideas, while I keep mine to myself. 

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function" - F. Scott Fitzgerald

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