Haven on Earth
Justice courts and officers, business ethics and public schools, community councils and services, family table dinners in a home with parents and weekend times to reflect, are some of the important institutions accepted in Human culture today. The form and spirit, the how of conduct and the way of practice of these foundations for collective human harmony and strategy, varies from country to country. Further differences in way of life and life style does occur even from community to community within any particular country. How would we approach these practices when guided by Torah instructions? Is the topic of various communities and various life styles of any interest in the eyes of Torah?
'AND THOU SHALL TAKE NO BRIBE: FOR THE BRIBE BLINDS THE WISE, AND PERVERTS THE WORDS OF THE RIGHTEOUS. ALSO THOU SHALL NOT OPPRESS A STRANGER: YOU KNOW THE HEART OF A STRANGER, SEEING YOU WERE STRANGERS IN THE LAND OF MITZRAYIM. AND SIX YEARS THOU SHALL SOW THY LAND, AND SHALL GATHER IN ITS FRUITS: BUT THE SEVENTH YEAR THOU SHALL LET IT REST AND LIE FALLOW; THAT THE POOR OF THY PEOPLE MAY EAT: AND WHAT THEY LEAVE, THE BEASTS OF THE FIELD SHALL EAT. IN LIKE MANNER THOU SHALL DEAL WITH THY VINEYARD, AND WITH THY OLIVE GROVE. SIX DAYS THOU SHALL DO THY WORK, AND ON THE SEVENTH DAY THOU SHALT REST: THAT THY OX AND THY ASS MAY REST; AND THE SON OF THY HANDMAID, AND THE STRANGER, MAY BE REFRESHED. AND ALL THINGS THAT I HAVE SAID TO YOU BE MINDFUL OF: AND MAKE NO MENTION OF THE NAME OF OTHER GODS, NEITHER LET IT BE HEARD OUT OF THY MOUTH. THREE TIMES THOU SHALL KEEP A FEAST TO ME IN THE YEAR. THOU SHALL KEEP THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD: (THOU SHALL EAT UNLEAVENED BREAD SEVEN DAYS, AS I COMMANDED THEE, IN THE TIME APPOINTED IN THE MONTH AVIV; FOR IN IT THOU DIDST COME OUT FROM MITZRAYIM: AND NONE SHALL APPEAR BEFORE ME EMPTY:).' SHEMOT 23.Before the days of Moshe and his generation, man and woman could sustain a social contract, a marriage, simply by sharing a common habitation and if they would discontinue that sharing they would bring an end to their marriage. Under these circumstances the severe prohibition of adultery existed then too. Today we have accepted this prohibition with a bit more wit of wisdom. We have learnt it over the many generations and over the passing of cultures, cultures that were powerful though they lacked a certain wisdom. If the wisdom of family is a wisdom teaching both endurance and renewal, then a culture lacking that wisdom would not endure nor be renewed. The teaching of family is a living teaching. The wisdom of a human bond yet to be simulated by a greater mankind, though mankind is our institution setting us this goal. More than family example is a community of families each one setting that example. And more than community respect for such wisdom, is responsibility to wisdom integrating family bonds together with community ideals, ideals that go beyond that family bond. What then are those ideals beyond the family bond? Just as a family member will care for his family like himself, so too a community member will care for his community like himself. But not all family members are mature enough to represent this living ideal, rather the immature loved ones rely and need their elder mature loved ones. So too in the community circle there are those who rely on others. The less fortunate in the community are in a relationship and will remain in a receiving situation until they in turn can represent the ideal rather than remain dependent upon it. All going well children become adults and adults become seniors, seniors by whose wisdom and experience adult life is guided. Sometimes though family life is broken, economic stability and the wiser way of life might not be as close at hand as is necessary. So it occurs that not every family can live a wisdom of endurance and unfortunately renewal seems difficult too. Can it be expected that the family example be one of giving rest to the less fortunate, is this not the responsibility of the community? Does the average family have workers in the field and hired helpers at home, a prosperous business and a large house? On the other hand if community representatives, without the aid of family warmth and example, would try to take care of the broken family or the poor, how will these members of the community mend their lifestyles? Is there an opportunity for renewal without the warmth of the living - teaching, the family sharing their environment or more practically a small group of families sharing their bond and their noble ideals? The family bond working in harmony with community ideals is a wisdom to be considered. This brings us to ask about culture and the instructions the Torah gives us about its management.
' . . .BUT ONLY AT THE PLACE WHICH THE L~RD THY G~D SHALL CHOOSE TO PLACE HIS NAME IN, THERE SHALT THOU SACRIFICE THE PASSOVER AT EVENING, AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN, AT THE SEASON WHEN THOU CAMEST OUT OF MITZRAYIM. AND THOU SHALL ROAST AND EAT IT IN THE PLACE WHICH THE L~RD THY G~D SHALL CHOOSE: AND THOU SHALT TURN IN THE MORNING, AND GO TO THY TENTS. SIX DAYS SHALT THOU EAT UNLEAVENED BREAD, AND THE SEVENTH DAY SHALL BE A SOLEMN ASSEMBLY TO THE L~RD THY G~D: THOU SHALT DO NO WORK. SEVEN WEEKS SHALT THOU NUMBER TO THEE: FROM SUCH TIME AS THOU BEGINNEST TO PUT THE SICKLE TO THE CORN SHALT THOU COMMENCE TO NUMBER SEVEN WEEKS. AND THOU SHALT KEEP THE FEAST OF WEEKS TO THE L~RD THY G~D WITH A TRIBUTE OF A FREE-WILL OFFERING OF THY HAND, WHICH THOU SHALT GIVE, ACCORDING AS THE L~RD THY G~D HAS BLESSED THEE: AND THOU SHALL REJOICE BEFORE THE L~RD THY G~D, THOU, AND THY SON, AND THY DAUGHTER, AND THY MANSERVANT, AND THY MAIDSERVANT, AND THE LEVITE WHO IS WITHIN THY GATES, AND THE STRANGER, AND THE FATHERLESS, AND THE WIDOW, THAT ARE AMONG YOU, IN THE PLACE WHICH THE L~RD THY G~D HAS CHOSEN AS THE RESIDENCE OF HIS NAME.' DEVARIM 16.We pray that Yerushalayim be rebuilt. Yerushalayim is the resting place of the great Court of Torah Authority, from which comes forth the Torah and In His Grace the Divine word. Yerushalayim is the destiny of all who take their first step toward the union of love and justice. Yerushalayim is the spiritual birth place of all those who make peace between fellows. Yerushalayim is presently being represented by all who practice the ideal, the ideal that makes for mankind an institution, a living teaching, a community of Torah. The ideal peoplehood whose families are guided in the thousands, in the hundreds, in the fifties and in the tens and yet all the while families, families that are organized in groups, groups of tens, groups of fifties, groups of hundreds and groups of thousands. Yerushalayim is the most ancient place. Yerushalayim is the environment for the renewal of mankind. Yerushalayim is the environment for renewal, the mending of broken love and the storehouse of good fortune to restore the poor who received injustice and not yet righteousness.
'AND THOU SHALL REMEMBER THAT THOU WAS A BONDSMAN IN MITZRAYIM: THEREFORE THOU SHALL OBSERVE AND DO THESE STATUTES. THOU SHALT OBSERVE THE FEAST OF BOOTHS SEVEN DAYS, AFTER THOU HAST GATHERED IN THY CORN AND THY WINE: AND THOU SHALT REJOICE IN THY FEAST, THOU, AND THY SON, AND THY DAUGHTER, AND THY MANSERVANT, AND THY MAIDSERVANT, AND THE LEVITE, THE STRANGER, AND THE FATHERLESS, AND THE WIDOW, THAT ARE WITHIN THY GATES. SEVEN DAYS SHALT THOU KEEP A SOLEMN FEAST TO THE L~RD THY G~D IN THE PLACE WHICH THE L~RD SHALL CHOOSE: BECAUSE THE L~RD THY G~D SHALL BLESS THEE IN ALL THY PRODUCE, AND IN ALL THE WORK OF THY HANDS, THEREFORE SHALT THOU SURELY REJOICE. THREE TIMES A YEAR SHALT ALL THY MALES APPEAR BEFORE THE L~RD THY G~D IN THE PLACE WHICH HE SHALL CHOOSE; IN THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD, AND IN THE FEAST OF WEEKS, AND IN THE FEAST OF BOOTHS: AND THEY SHALL NOT APPEAR BEFORE THE L~RD EMPTY: EVERY MAN SHALL GIVE AS HE IS ABLE, ACCORDING TO THE BLESSING OF THE L~RD THY G~D WHICH HE HAS GIVEN THEE. JUDGES AND OFFICERS SHALT THOU MAKE THEE IN ALL THY GATES, WHICH THE L~RD THY G~D GIVES THEE, THROUGHOUT THY TRIBES: AND THEY SHALL JUDGE THE PEOPLE WITH RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT. THOU SHALL NOT WREST JUDGMENT; THOU SHALL NOT RESPECT PERSONS, NEITHER TAKE A BRIBE: FOR A BRIBE BLINDS THE EYES OF THE WISE, AND PERVERTS THE WORDS OF THE RIGHTEOUS. JUSTICE, ONLY JUSTICE SHALT THOU PURSUE, THAT THOU MAYST LIVE, AND INHERIT THE LAND WHICH THE L~RD THY G~D GIVES THEE.' DEVARIM 16.
When appointing a judge and employing a guardian ask first at least once, 'please don't accept a bribe, for the Torah forewarns us about the wisdom and the eyes'. Then after a while ask again, 'please our guardian, look once again surely to remove the bribe in your hand that you held just suddenly, when in your wisdom you fell asleep in your office and forgot your eyes'. For let not the flattery of the tongue or the power of the mighty, nor honour and not riches represent your wisdom or your justice. Nor let wisdom without understanding replace witnessing that sees with its eyes. Rather give to even the young student the opportunity to defend, and doubt even the elders if they all come to lay guilt. Why should law give innocence more chance than guilt? Does justice give way to love? When law is objective in arbitration not only for conflict of private interests, not only private and public interest, the interest to possess means for food, clothing and housing but also a law for the life of sharing love, trust and meaning.
Who then took us out of a slavery when we ourselves chose to remain chained to that slavery? Can a people accept an ideal as one man with one heart? Can that people camp in love and endure without justice? Will Mankind, universal culture and many different lands ever live in a Harmony whose Name is author to its instruction? Let it be known that our Torah speaks of what it finds interesting in Its eyes. Let it be acknowledged that the blessing in our hands needs replanting, tending and harvesting if we wish to see it again. Then if we eat in satisfaction and still we remember He who took us out of Mitzrayim acknowledge then too that we are still participating in the sanctification of Yerushalayim. From that day though our life style our calendar and our highways will witness a new telling - old memories alive and not a remembrance any more. End.