Grateful for the way of Divine Wisdom
Every now and then a word of Scripture leaps out at you and somehow captures a total way of thinking.Such a word is found in the Torah reading of this past week -Deuteronomy 12:8 and 13:19.
‘לא תעשון ככל אשר אנחנו עושים פה היום איש כל הישר בעיניו ‘
You shall not act at all as we now act here, every man as he pleases( what he considers right)
כי תשמע בקול ה’ אלהיך לשמור את כל מצוותיו אשר אנכי מצוך היום לעשות הישר בעיני ה’ אלהיך
For you will be heeding the Lord your God, obeying all His commandments that I enjoin them upon you this day, doing what is right in the sight of the Lord your God.
The word that is pivotal to this gratefulness word of Torah is “ישר” -”straight”-”right”-”fair.”
The Torah makes use of this word in two opposing and conflicting moral situations and postures.In the first, Deuteronomy 12:8, it highlights the inclination of the individual to do as he/she pleases, what she or he considers right and proper according to the standards that are meaningful only to himself/herself. One’s beliefs, actions and words are entirely individualistic, the sole arbiter of the moral stance is oneself.This is regarded by the Torah as problematic, dangerous and a violation of the principles of the Divine that should govern our lives.
Doing what is “ישר” in God’s sight is the desirable and divine obligation associated with one’s spiritual fulfillment and completion. Deuteronomy 13:19 unequivocally asserts this rightness as the ultimate standard for human activity and interaction.
Today we find ourselves enmeshed in a world dictated by leaders doing what is right in their own eyes,without any awareness of the divine wisdom that should influence and guide human behavior. Power, political expediency,financial profit, jingoism, psychological self-aggrandizement and excessive narcissism define the rightness of words, actions and policies. It is my sight that counts; egotism reigns supreme! Divine wisdom , that which is right in the sight of God, that which demands equality of opportunity, fairness and justice for all, a sense of compassion for the disadvantaged and vulnerable segments of our country and humanity everywhere, goodness and kindness toward all sentient beings, seeing the entire human community as children of God, has taken a back seat or secondary role, if not totally vanished from the sight of American political leadership.
Religion’s demand is the perspective of God- Unity, wholeness, love; man’s view is what is right in ‘my sight’-narrow, fragmented, adversarial.
How dramatically relevant and imperative is the Torah’s message today, as growing numbers of citizens anticipate chaos and uncertainty for lack of a moral compass that can guide this nation and the world through the difficult times facing our fragile planet in the precarious future ahead.
Deuteronomy’s ancient insights inspire us today; may they find their way into the hearts and minds of our leadership and those who are more apt to follow their own misguided sense of what is right only in their own eyes.The time is ripe for a serious consideration of the perspective and wisdom of the divine source of all things.