Part three. Defining the good.
From lectures by Dennis Prager at the University of Judaism. Order his series How to be Good from DP's office at www.dennisprager.com.
Treat others as you would like to be treated.
Part of the reason that I was active for the Afghans - people who were experiencing genocide at the hands of the Soviets - was simple. And I said it at the time. If my people were being decimated, I'd want those who aren't being decimated to help us.
Point two. Not doing to others what you would not want done to yourself. That means fighting evil and restraining yourself from doing to others what you would not want done to yourself.
Point three. Good is what you do. Bad is what you do. The operative word is do. Not think. Not feel.
Part four. Human nature. And I owe this to traditional Judaism. Each one of us has a will to do good and a will to do bad. In Hebrew, the yetzer hatov is the urge to the good, and the yetzer hara is the urge to bad. There is a constant struggle within us between the will to do good and the will to do bad.
I never feel guilty over bad thoughts. And conversely, I do feel guilty over bad deeds, because it is the deed that matters.
Judaism allowed Jews to make peace with their miserable thoughts. Isn't that what psychoanalysis is: Tell me your miserable thoughts for $150 an hour?
The Talmud asks: Why did God create the yetzer hara (will to do bad)? And the answer is: If we didn't have the yetzer hara, nobody would ever get married, have a family, make a home, take a job or build anything.
They're attributing to the yetzer hara almost everything good that you do in life.
That lower part of you needs to be channeled, not denied. The wild, miserable, lascivious part should not be squashed. Know that it's there, but don't act on your bad impulses. And bad means hurting another.
Good is what is done. You can cry all day for the suffering, but if you don't do anything for them, you haven't done good. It doesn't help them for you to cry. It helps them if you do.
For eight years I've had two hours a week with a Catholic priest, a Protestant minister and a rabbi. After your 400th show, you're entitled to some generalizations. One is - the Jew is usually the most talkative and the Protestant is usually the most quiet.
There must be a reason.
The Jew is usually the most passionately involved in something, volatile, gets angry, verbalizes, lets out, etc.. The Protestant is usually the nicest. In eight years I heard one offensive word from a Protestant and he was a bona fide nut.
These Protestants are the sweetest, nicest, most self-controlled people you will ever meet.
Catholics run in all directions. Some are controlled and some are volatile.
The religions produced these differences. Protestantism emphasizes the heart. Catholics are in the middle. Judaism emphasizes works. Therefore, the Jew has been the freest to make peace with his miserable thoughts. Protestants are the least free because they are sinful.
That's why when it came out that Jimmy Carter lusted for women other than his wife, Jews yawned and Protestants were horrified. A born again Christian and he lusts? Oh my God.
You want to be married to a man who has no lustful thoughts? He is a liar. You want to be married to a big liar?
That's your choice. Either your man has lustful thoughts or he's a big liar. There is no other possibility.
I tithe my lectures. I do one out of ten for free. I don't do it from the goodness of my heart. If I did it from my heart, I'd give one free lecture...a year. But there's a Jewish law that you have to tithe yourself. It's a pain. But I want to do the right thing.