Are we performing or are we being real?
27 Iyar 5776
The Creator’s greatest gift to us is that we are made in His likeness and Image and with this He allows us to make our own decisions. With this however comes responsibility for our actions. We cannot blame anyone else for how we live our lives. He loves and cares about us and He knows the intentions of our heart. He never forces us to love Him and unlike humans, He is faithful to His promises to us in spite of our actions. Many people may say that they believe in God yet they live their lives totally divorced from being obedient to His Commandments. Because of His love for us, He blesses us but He also warns us about the consequences of our behavior. (Leviticus 26:14) This is not to make us feel bad but so that our behavior might improve. There is a saying, “to be forewarned is forearmed”. If we are warned that something wrong is going to happen, we have time to prepare ourselves. We have no excuse and cannot blame others. For example, the tobacco companies have horrid pictures on their packages warning of the dangers of smoking. Yet there are people who have sued the tobacco companies accusing them of being the source of their addiction. Most recently we learn that some politicians are trying to pass a law that if someone is killed with a weapon, the company who manufactured the weapon can be sued. This is the society in which we live. We always blame others for our behavior.
In Deuteronomy 30: 11-15 the Creator tells us that His Commandments are not too hard for us to keep. Let me ask you this, would a just God ask us to do something that is impossible for us to do and then blame us for not doing it? He gives us ample opportunity to acknowledge our guilt and come to Him. How often as a rabbi have I heard people say that God punished them? If our Creator has warned us not to do something and we do it, was it He who punished us or we are simply reaping the consequences of our own actions? Many people think that liturgical worship and religious elements will bring them closer to Him but He is really interested in our walk with Him and obedience. That is a true relationship with Him. Religiosity takes us away from our Creator because the more religious we are, the more we trust in our own capabilities and qualities rather than placing our trust in Him. We lose the capacity to see when we are doing something wrong. We come to believe that our way is the only right way to God and shun others who don’t believe as we do. Our Creator however is telling us that only He can bring us to Him.
I love Psalms 139 where it says, search me O God and show me the things that I am not doing right. As a human being, we sometimes don’t know when we are doing things in the wrong way. We need constant self-examination. Our Creator is not a party-pooper but wants us live in abundance and not to destroy ourselves and those around us. When we decide to do something that is harmful to us, for example smoking, and we get sick from it, we not only harm ourselves but we put the obligation upon society to take care of us. Our stubbornness becomes a burden to the system. We keep blaming others and we do not carry responsibility upon our own shoulders. The best way to live is to walk with our Creator and when we deviate off this path, we have the opportunity to return to Him, to acknowledge our wrong-doings, make it right and then enjoying our new relationship with Him.