Friday, August 22, 2014

"......Every Man doing what is Right in his Eyes."

"You won't do what we all do here today, every man doing what is right in his eyes."

(Deuteronomy 12:8)
Av 26, 5774/August 22, 2014

We begin reading this week's parashat Re'eh and Moshe is teaching Israel how to dwell in the land, how to build a society, pursue justice, and to be ever cognizant of Hashem. And then he speaks of the Holy Temple: "But only to the place which Hashem your G-d shall choose from all your tribes, to set His Name there; you shall inquire after His dwelling and come there." (ibid 12:5) And then Moshe touches upon the offerings and the tithes and the terumah and the oaths and donations and the first born of your flock and herd. And then Moshe calls everyone to sit and eat before Hashem, and rejoice, you and all that is yours, your households, that Hashem has blessed you with.

And then Moshe says this:"You won't do what we all do here today, every man doing what is right in his eyes." (ibid 12:8) And then Moshe moves on, talking of other things. But what has Moshe just told us? "Today, every man [is] doing what is right in his eyes." Is this true? Does it truly describe our times?

In the name of democracy we have crowned the individual. The individual decides what is right. Every man is king.

We live in an era of professed multiculturalism but one in which disregard for another's way and belief is generally preferred over truly learning to live in peace.

There is no right or wrong, only narrative. But what happens when another's narrative precludes your own narrative? Ultimately, everybody hates everybody. We live in fear. Terror rules. The world has gone mad.

"But only in the place Hashem will choose in one of your tribes; there you shall offer up your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you." (12:14) In this place, Moshe tells us, we will all do what is right in G-d's eye. What a difference.

Israel needs this center, this chosen place from among her tribes,the place around which Israel will dwell, the place around which Israel will build her society and pursue justice, The gravitational pull that will guide Israel, the solid rock, the north star, the moral imperative; the place where G-d dwells, where every man, woman and child can be an entire world yet be united in hearts. The place where everyone is free to be who they are and serve Hashem. Everyone.

Israel is in need of a place. A place to take council with Hashem. A place to face inward and reach out to Hashem. A place to breath free. A place to eat and be satisfied and to bless Hashem.

Imagine a world in which every one does what's right in G-d's eye? Maybe not all the time and maybe not everywhere. But in Jerusalem, in Zion, in the House of G-d, every man striving to do what is right in G-d'seye. Who could ask for more?

Moshe is not describing a panacea, a magic elixir to cure all our ills. But he is pointing to the urgent imperative to fulfill G-d's commandment to"Build for Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them," here in the land of Israel, a place where Israel and indeed all the world can go in search ofG-d. A place where G-d can be found. Today we all do what is right in our own eyes yet not one of us is free. But one day we will go up to the place which G-d will choose and there we shall be free.

Try imagining such a place: the Holy Temple.

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