Month 1:26 (Aviv), Week 4:4 (Revee/Shavu'ot), Year 5935:026 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Friday 29 [Red] April 2011
It's Origins Revealed
These verses of Scriptire form a part of a section dealing with the curses that Yahweh meets out to covenent- and Torah-breakers that follows immediately after a section listing all the blessings He promises those who keep their covenants and obey the mitzvot (commandments). The many believers who no longer believe these blessings and cursings apply to them because, they suppose, it's all been 'done away with' are as a rule unable to fathom why they experience these blessings and cursings, and especially the cursings. One of these cursings madness.
"Yahweh will strike you with shigga'on (madness, craziness, insanity) and blindness and confusion of lev (heart). And you shall grope at noonday, as a blind man gropes in darkness; you shall not prosper in your ways; you shall be only oppressed and plundered continually, and no one shall save you" (Deut.28:28-29, NKJV).
'Madness' - or to use its technical equivalent, 'insanity' - is the opposite of 'sanity' which comes from the Latin adjective, sanus, meaning 'healthy'. One who is sane is therefore often described as compos mentis, i.e. having a 'composed mind'. The Hebrew word shigga'on, which we translate as "madness" in our passage today, comes from a root word shaga meaning to 'rave' or to utter something in a wild, incoherent or delirious manner. It also carries with it the sense of 'being in error' but magnified to an extreme. The best definition I can give for madness, then, is to be in extreme error. Someone who is shaga is therefore disconnected from reality in an extreme form.
Not surprisingly, there have been many - and probably will continue to be - those who are deemed 'insane' or 'mad' simply because they perceive reality with greater clarity than those who do not. The irony is that, technically speaking, those who are blind who accuse those who can see of being 'mad' are, if we strictly follow definitions, themselves insane. Thus it could be argued that we are all sane and insane to different degrees. So long as we are 'in error' we possess a little shaga.
However, this is not the main sense of the passage under study. What Yahweh is describing is someone who has become completely unglued and is just not with it at all and in such a way that no one is in any doubt. Someone who goes running around screaming he is Napoleon and is wife is an octopus is obviously mad but someone who claims that NASA has a secret base on Mars is not necessarily so. Yahweh purposefully here links shaga'on with two other words, namely, ivvaron or blidness and timmahon or confusion, consternation, bewilderment, and astonishment. The one who is shaga'on is clearly under a lot of stress, is not able to understand what is going on around him, and makes a major disturbance.
The human mind tends to disintegrate when it looses its frames of reference. For Yahweh, the natural frame of reference is emet in tavnith, or truth in pattern as defined by Him. Those who believe, for example, that there is no God and no purpose in life frequently get so unhinged that they commit suicide, as scholar Arthur Köstler did. Religious people, likewise believing in lies, are no different.
If a person has a purpose in life, he is composed. If he discovers that his purpose is built on lies, his sanity rapidly disintegrates until he can find an alternative purpose. Anton LaVey, who founded the Church of Satan, really started to lose it as he was dying as he was forced to come to terms with what he had believed in, and devoted his life to, to discover it was a lie. Human life desperately needs emet (truth) and purpose. Without it, his mind starts falling apart.
The one who is built on illusion, fantasy or a lie does not prosper - he cannot prosper because he cannot connect to the power of eternal chayim (life). I think of many computer gamers who get lost in cyberspace. His illusion may sustain him for a while until it crumbles in face of the light of emet (truth). If he refuses at this point of collapse to turn to the All-Knowing One, Yahweh-Elohim, he will likely go insane. He then becomes buffetted by dark forces who are themselves insane because there is no emet (truth) in them (Jn.8:44). Satan and his demons are driven by only one thing - hate - a force which will eventually burn them up completely and render them completely insane. That is why those who are oppressed or possessed by them often do crazy things. They are sharing their own life force with a being which has lost it because of rebellion against the Most High.
Not surprisingly, those who are driven by these dark forces love to categorise true believers as 'mentally ill' even though it is perfectly clear from observing both who it is who is disturbed within. The fact there are false, lawless believers who go insane - and they do - tends to lend credence to those who think all Christians are mad for believing in an invisible Deity. And yet many atheists continue to believe in various spurious and unattainable Utopias in face of the contrary evidence of the hells they have already created pursuing their ideals. Marxists spring instantly to mind.
We are not born mad - we grow progressively mad by progressively rejecting more and more emet (truth) and embracing more and more lies.
A fool is not, moreover, necessarily someone who is unintelligent. There are people with amazing minds - highly intelligent people - who are raving mad. They construct within themselves false, albeit, complicated universes, but unless they construct in tavnith (pattern) and in emet (truth) they will first become eccentric and then go insane when their artificial reality starts crumbling.
"A serpent may bite when it is not charmed; the babbler is no different. The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious, but the lips of a fool shall swallow him up; the words of his mouth begin with foolishness, and the end of his talk is raving madness" (Eccl.10:11-13, NKJV).
Finally, Yahweh says that those who lose it are "plundered continually" like a peron being robbed, only this time it is of sane thinking. Have you ever met someone with whom you have tried to reason, they have eventually 'got it' only to 'lose it' soon afterwards? And the reason why that happens is that when you are presented with emet (truth) and have understood it, unless you do something with it quickly, you will lose it:
Emet (Truth) evapourates from the human mind unless it is applied. So long as you believe in a lie and continue living it, demons, who are given legal rights to access your inner being when you believe untruth, will progressively deconstruct you mentally until they are expelled and replaced by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). It is this progressive deconstruction that can lead to the madness described in our passage today. Yahweh can reverse all of that when a soul surrenders to and trusts in Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ).
"For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was" (James 1:23-24, NKJV).
No man or woman need go insane if he chooses to built his life on emet (truth), divine tavnith (pattern) and ahavah (love). We maintain mental hygiene as we remain in these things. Therefore I personally rejoice in the Scriptures, knowing that they keep me level-headed, destroy enemy access rights and grant me doorways into chayim (life). No man or woman need go mad. He needs only to give his own spek of mortal life to the Immortal One who will then fill and transform him into a being after His own likeness!
 Spanners in the Thinking Processes: How Demons Create Mental Bottlenecks