Blog Shoftim 7 Elul 5776 שֹׁפְטִים, ז” אלול, תשע”ו
Are we responsible for our actions?
The prophet Isaiah tells us that one day Israel will return and settle in the Promised Land and peace will come to the entire world. Whenever Israel is at peace, the world is at peace; whereas when Israel is at war, there is war all over the world. We can see this today. What is happening? The basics of the Torah teach us that people need to learn mutual respect. The Ten Commandments were given to us as the foundation for all our constitutions and to guide our behavior. Racism, bigotry and hatred have no place in the Creator’s Kingdom.
In Deut. 16:20 we are told “tsedek tsedek, tirdof” “justice, justice you must pursue”. The judges were chosen specifically to be men of honor; they were not to accept bribes or judge by solely by outward appearance. Those who were to render justice were called “elohim” which could mean lords, like in “house of lords” and they represented the Creator. They needed to be righteous men. A crooked judge would give the Creator a bad name. The king was called to be a man fully involved in the civil life of his people. He was told to write a copy of the Torah and to use it to lead his people wisely. The prophet was the man chosen to warn the people when they went off track in how they were living. Both king and prophet were to be righteous guides for their people. The priests or cohanim were men chosen to be the link between the Creator and the people. The Torah doesn’t distinguish between the spiritual and the earthly; there is no separation of “church and state”.
The Torah lays down principles for humanity to follow. All the characteristics of these four positions are not limited to the judge, king, priest and prophet of the Bible. The Creator calls us, gives us “free will” making us responsible to act according to the characteristics of these four roles. Our Messiah Yeshua was born at a time when his people were doing the opposite just like today. Yeshua had a special role which Moshe announced in Deuteronomy 18:15. Did Yeshua accomplish what he came to do? Absolutely! He brought the people back to the Torah and he and his followers made it universal. Now all the nations know about the Torah whether or not they follow it. The Ten Commandments are the greatest gift to humanity of all time. The specifications came later but the basic Ten give us all the instruction we need.
Israel was formed as a nation to be light to the world so that the world could enjoy this life guided by the principles of Torah. Sadly when we look around at everything that is being done in His name; it is amazing that He hasn’t come and destroyed us all. The Torah was given from above for all. He talks to us, calls us, makes us His and all we need to do is to respond. The Torah teaches that the reason we exist is to serve others not ourselves. Israel as a people was never meant to be put on a pedestal but to serve humanity as the link between the Creator and the people of the world. Our Messiah Yeshua was the servant of his nation; he represented Israel; he set the standard and raised the bar for us to follow. Let us follow in his footsteps and pursue justice as he did.