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"It is better to take refuge in Adonai than to trust in human beings; better to take refuge in Adonai than to put one's trust in princes." -Tehilah 118:8-9

Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue

This post at the Muqata is the most succinct way of explaining the faults of the Israeli political system as well as the general corruption of its politicians. Needless to say, there is a reason the American government was set up with a series of checks and balances meant to keep politicians in their place.

However, when the majority of the politicians in each branch of government subscribe to the same groupthink, the theory of checks and balances goes out the window. Which is why our founding fathers stressed over and over again the necessity of moral integrity, because without it, a government that grants such an incredible amount of freedom as does ours, will surely fail.

One of the things that struck me in yesterday's parashah (Mishpatim: Exodus 21:1-24:18) was Exodus 23:2:
Do not follow the crowd when it does what is wrong; and don't allow the popular view to sway you into offering testimony for any cause if the effect will be to pervert justice.
The more you interact with the world at large, the more you see the world divide itself into little cliques of humanity based on their own world views. They all interact with each other on a daily basis, but they each see the world so differently that, at times, communication can be like culture shock. But, it seems that every group is so ingrained in their own worldview that they can't imagine that the other groups don't see the world the same way they do.

For example: American-Muslim relations. Many Americans still can't seem to understand the idea that there are muslim governments out there that really do want us dead. These are the people who danced in the streets when their fellow men flew themselves into the Twin Towers, and there are still a large number of Americans who feel we ought to have open and direct talks with them. Their leaders refer to us as the "Great Satan" and certain Americans are ready to invite them to tea. And these certain Americans wind up being given the voter mandate to go ahead and do it!

Now, that's a very basic, very illustrative example of what I'm talking about. But, the problem goes deeper than that, and the Jewish and Christian communities are far from immune. In fact, the clique mentality present within the believing community (be it Christian or Messianic Jewish) can, at times, be downright overwhelming. I've heard accounts ranging from simple gossip to selective "invite only" events that have happened in churches and shuls, and it never ceases to blow my mind. And the worst part about it is that the clique mentality is so apparent...and 99% of the time NOBODY does anything about it!

Whatever happened to calling people on the carpet and telling it like it is? Then again, if HaShem had to make going against the flow a commandment, truth and honesty must be fairly foreign to human nature. But, when we know G-d aren't we supposed to be better than that? Whatever happened to the "old nature passing away"? Or, "this word is in your mouth, even in your heart, therefore you can do it"?

I know I complain a lot on this blog. I tend to point out the failures of humanity more than the successes. And I'm a scathing critic. But I do it from the perspective that it can be better--human behavior can be better, because human beings can choose to be better people. We can all make a conscious choice to acknowledge that justice is being perverted and to do something about it. The Torah admonishes "Justice, justice shall you pursue." In other words: Do it right, and call someone out when they're doing it wrong. After all, isn't that what faith in G-d is all about: Speaking the truth?

Ah, but "What is truth?" One of my brother's college professors once told him, "There's your truth, there's my truth, and then there's the truth." So much for college. Nothing beats producing confident go-getting professionals by telling them they're essentially always going to be wrong. Faith is an amazing thing; it is also an essential component when it comes to speaking the truth. The parashah ends with G-d calling Moshe and the leaders of Israel to approach Him. The account in chapter 24, verses 9-11 reads:
Moshe, Aharon, Nadav, Avihu and seventy of the leaders went up; and they saw the G-d of Israel. Under His feet was something like a sapphire stone pavement as clear as the sky itself. He did not reach out His hand against these notables of Israel; on the contrary, they saw G-d, even as they were eating and drinking.
Truth is so foreign to the human psyche that we need faith in order to believe that what we know, what we speak, and what we believe is really the truth. Truth and faith are intertwined. You cannot have one without the other. If you try, you may impress yourself with your eloquence, but you will never be able to believe that G-d has manifest Himself in your midst. So, you will be standing on the strength of your own opinion, and human strength is only as powerful as the wind that comes blowing against it from the opposite direction.

The greatest heroes of Israel were the men and women who went against the crowd. Five thousand years later, human beings haven't changed much. They're still cliquing away into destruction. Heaven and earth may pass away, "but My Word will never pass away." The ones who go against the grain have to cling to the truth with sheer faith for such a time as this. That is the key to the future and the hope manifest in the banquet of eternity that was once laid out on the mountains of this earth.

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posted by Shoshana @ 11:00 AM

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