Friday, September 15, 2017

Mutual Responsibility

By HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

“Hidden things may pertain to the L-rd our G-d, but that which has been revealed applies to us and our children, forever. We must therefore keep all the words of this Torah” (Deuteronomy 29:28). Rashi comments, “I [Moshe] do not punish you for ‘hidden things,’ i.e., what is hidden in your heart. That pertains to G-d.” It is G-d who will punish that individual about whom it says, “Today, there must not be among you any man, woman, family or tribe, whose heart strays from G-d, and who goes and worships the gods of those nations” (verse 17).

As for “what is revealed,” that applies to us and our children. We must destroy the evil from our midst. If we do not execute judgment against sinners, the masses will be punished by G-d. And even regarding that which is revealed, G-d did not punish the masses until Israel had crossed the Jordan and undertaken the oath at Mount Gerizim and Mount Eval, by which all of Israel because one another’s guarantors (see Rashi there). Indeed, when they crossed the Jordan and Achan violated the taboo, the entire nation was punished, suffering defeat at the War of Ai, which melted the hearts of the people like water (Joshua 7:5). Only after judgment was executed against Achan, whose sin brought suffering upon the entire nation, did Israel achieve a great victory in the second war on Ai.

Today, a covenant of mutual responsibility has been renewed in our generation with the establishment of the State of Israel. The immoral behavior and corruption of the individual is not the private business of this person or that. It affects the entire nation and influences the plight of society, security and the economy. Upon all of us rests the responsibility to educate ourselves and others to integrity and morality, good character and fine deeds, and we must help others to return to Jewish sources and roots, for it was from there that the Jewish People have drawn life from time immemorial. “It is a tree of life to those who take hold of it” (Proverbs 3:18).

At the same time, we have to take to task those corrupt individuals, especially if they hold the reins of leadership, whose immoral and irresponsible behavior have a negative influence on the entire nation. During this season, the time of Selichot and judgment, we must search our souls, as individuals and as a nation, eradicating evil and rectifying whatever needs improvement. By such means, we shall march forward on the path winding upward towards complete redemption and repentance. And may we merit salvation and great consolation. 

With blessings for a good, sweet year, and looking forward to complete salvation, 

Shabbat Shalom.

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