4 Tishrei 5781 / Tuesday, September 22, 2020 | Torah Reading: Ha'azinu
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War of the Worlds    

War of the Worlds

We navigate a world of excuses. We really want to do whatever we want without conscience. But it is precisely rules that don't bend which give our lives meaning...


And there you will worship gods, man's handiwork, wood and stone, which neither see, hear, eat, nor smell. (Devarim 4:28)


Every day, all of us navigate a world of excuses.


A young white man fires a lazer into the eyes of a police officer in his zeal to burn down a store that employs 100 people.


Why does he do it? Because black lives matter?


If black lives matter, why not find a black man and give him and his family a free week of groceries to weather out the lockdown? Why not help him find work? Why not offer money for education, new skills, or college? Or even invite him into your home for lunch?


An old guy spends 5 hours online watching adult content. Why does he do such a thing? To demonstrate his freedom of choice? Or the freedom of expression of the people who produce such content?


Why not exercise that choice not to see such filth? Why not withhold your money from such a dirty enterprise so women have better options to express themselves?


People hijack the most noble causes to behave in the worst way. It’s been going on since man started to worship the stars as a way to show “honor” to G-d by paying “homage” to His creations.


Idolatry Then and Now


Idolatry is nothing more than one big excuse.


An idol is not something that monitors what you do. It is not something that hears what you say. It is not something that can react to your deeds. An idol doesn’t hear evil speech. It doesn’t see murder. It cannot punish. It cannot reward.


If I want to spend a sordid night alone with a bevy of vixens, all I have to do is convince myself that my all-knowing tuna fish sandwich is okay with it.


If I want to cheat people out of their money, I just need to write down that it will please my tuna fish sandwich.


If I want to spend the next 10 hours gorging on seven-layer cake while binge-watching on Netflix, I can write off my conscience by calling it a "tribute to my tuna fish sandwich."


From ancient times to today, that has always been idolatry: Playing hooky from serving G-d. It was never about the idol itself.


Like the harlots of Bilaam. They dressed half naked before a Jewish man and pelted him with wine. Half drunk, and standing right next to a Bar Rafaeli ready to grant his wildest desires if he would just bow to a tuna fish sandwich – he did it because he believed in the divine powers of the mayonnaise!


An idol enables man to do as he pleases. It also redistributes money and power to those who master the scheme.


Idolatrous priests seized amassed fortunes, held influence over kings and emperors, and seized power simply by telling people that they could satisfy their lusts and what awaited them after death would be just as good.


Man would give everything up just to replace G-d in writing the laws of right and wrong.


The Real World


Hear O Israel, Hashem, our G-d, Hashem is One.


In our world, there is One G-d and He is everywhere.


Think of the flag of Israel. A star with six points representing that Hashem is east, west, north, south, up and down. In every direction, at every place, He is there.


He hears everything we say. He sees everything we do. He even knows all of our thoughts.


He rewards those who follow His commandments and punishes those who don't. He bestows even greater blessing on those He punishes who listen to Him and change their deeds.


A world that proclaims Hashem as King lives by a single set of laws: Immutable, that man did not make and cannot change. Laws aren’t bent to suit his desires; desires are bent to suit His laws.


G-d created for us the entire universe. He created our bodies, our minds, and our souls for one single purpose: That we move closer to Him with our every deed.


Jewish law is called halacha. It means movement.


Why do we eat only dairy on the sixth of Sivan and during the Nine Days, only to eat only meat the next day? Why do we eat with relish and enthusiasm on the fifteenth of Tishrei, but don't eat anything at all 5 days prior? Why can we move a couch a few meters on Shabbat in our house and it is permissible, but if we move a rock a few centimeters outside, we are sinning?


What are all these precise rules all about?


They are about every action of ours bringing us closer to G-d.


Only in a world with rules, consequences, and second chances, is growth and movement possible.


This is what Hashem created the world for.


When Worlds Collide


That is why idolatry is such a sin. It is the ultimate excuse to waste 90 years of our lives without growing at all. It normalizes squandering everything G-d created for us by giving nothing back. It gives us a fake way out of Divine reward and punishment. It overthrows the entire purpose of creation.


There can be no greater crime.


Every mitzvah we do is a form of political activism. It is a statement that the world is ruled by the King of Kings, and every one of us has a purpose, and every deed we do counts. It is a demonstration against excuses and a proclamation that all men are created equal - to do the will of our Creator and fulfill the purpose of His creation.

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