Many of the Korbanot (sacrifices) that are brought in the Temple are for misconduct and imperfect decisions that we often make in our everyday lives. Our Sages say, “A person does not commit a crime unless he is seized by temporary insanity!”
Although the claim of ‘temporary insanity’ has become a common and sometimes comical defense in our society, our tradition is teaching us that even though wrongdoing does result from a temporary lapse in clear thinking, people are still held accountable for their behavior.
No sane person would deliberately do things which would be self destructive. Small children who do not know any better would do and say things that are harmful to themselves and others but when adults submit to the temptation of the moment, to say or do hurtful things, they have essentially taken leave of their adult senses not thinking and evaluating the longer term consequences of their actions. This form of temporary insanity accompanies every wrong act.
The Mishna in Ethics of our Fathers teaches that in evaluating any decision and course of conduct, we should calculate the gain of our actions verses the losses they entail.
Similarly, a law of human behavior states that when given the option people can choose only what they perceive to be of lesser distress, or greater benefit.
However, individual choice decides which distress is greater and which is lesser. For example when a hungry baby cries in the middle of the night, the parents will get up, they naturally forego the greater pain of staying in pain and listening to their crying baby for the lesser pain of getting up and feeding the baby (or preferably waking up your spouse to do it, whichever is easier).
So, when we evaluate for ourselves what is good and what is detrimental, let’s first be sure we have our sanity!