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    Not asking to be born – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. I didn’t ask to be born, so why should I have to keep the commandments?

    A. Pir’kei Avot 4:22 says: “Despite yourself you were born, despite yourself you will die and despite yourself you have to account for your life”.

    The Vilna Gaon was asked, “If life and death are imposed on a person, why should they have to give account and reckoning for how they spend their life?”

    The Gaon replied, “There is a rule that if a person has a field without a fence but a neighbour erects a fence around three sides of it, the owner of the field does not have to pay towards the fence because the field is still open on the fourth side.

    “But if the neighbour fences in the fourth side, the owner of the field has to pay towards the fencing on the other three sides, since the fence gives him a benefit.

    “Likewise, though we are not asked if we want to be born, while we are alive we do not want to die. Our birth was despite us, but we still get some benefit from the fact that we are alive, and we have to use our life properly.”

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