What is more important…— the External Appearance or the Real One?

Blog Ekev  5776   בלוג  עֵקֶב , כ”ג אב, תשע”ו

Most of us spend far more time preoccupied with our outward appearance than with what is inside. I have long been teaching you “say no to religion, yes to the Creator” but the majority prefers religion which tends to enhance the outside — See how good I am, how righteous I am — basically showing off instead of focusing on what is in our hearts and taking care of our morals, values, ethics and principles.   We prefer to follow the crowd and to copy what everyone else does than to think for ourselves. That was the problem with Israel both then and now. In this portion Ekev, in Deut. 10:16, Moshe was telling us to “circumcise our hearts”.  That does not mean that there is no longer the need for the Israelites to perform Brit Milah rather to circumcise our hearts refers to exposing our hearts, being vulnerable, lowering our guard and our pride as we become open to the changes that the Creator will perform in our lives as we are loyal to Him.

In Deut. 7:6 we read that He chose Israel to be His people, His chosen people, different from the rest, a special treasure above all those in the earth. We cannot take pride in being chosen. Totally the contrary it is a matter of humility.  Our Creator also chooses people from among all the nations and when we have been chosen, we have a responsibility. Even if we try to run away from it He will keep drawing us back. He chooses us for a specific role or task for which we often think we are not prepared.  Here is an important principle for us. Nothing that we start out to do is easy but when we look back and remember our past, we can have confidence because of what we have already accomplished.  This is why Moses tells the people to remember what the Creator had done for them over all their years in the desert.  He reminds them that yes He did miracles for us but that we needed to do the rest. He opened the Red Sea but didn’t take us across on a flying carpet. We needed to get to the other side on our own.  Yes He would give us the land but we would need to build an army and to fight for it but He would be with us.

Today Israel can boast about all their missiles and strong military but this won’t help them if they continue to destroy themselves from within.  This teaching needs to be emphasized because of what we see happening in Israel today. They have succumbed to the aberrations of humanity. They have proudly accepted lifestyles that God abhors; so proud that they have become like the other nations. In the portion Ekev “if” is repeated over and over denoting that Israel’s success was and is conditional upon our obedience to His commandments.  Our Creator made a promise to our forefathers and He will keep His Promises but we the people will suffer the consequences for our disobedience. It has taken 2000 years for the reinstatement of the state of Israel and this has certainly not been due to our good behaviour but because of His promise.

We are more worried about externals than what is inside. Righteousness begins within. Our values need to be above all the other nations. If Israel cannot be distinguished by its values above the other nations, what is the reason for its existence?  We as God’s people do not have the right to call ourselves part of Him if our values are not better than the values of those around us. Let us not worry about how we look but rather about who we are.  Our Creator is asking us for a personal revolution. Let us stop trying to look good to others but instead let us be people of value where our actions influence others; our life should be an example to others. Live it; don’t talk about it. Don’t be a politician, be a doer. This is how we can say that Yeshua fulfilled his role as messiah.  He brought Torah to all humanity and even though Christianity and Orthodox Judaism disagree that it is for everyone, both are wrong. There is only one God and He gave us His Torah so that we can be in a true relationship with Him and each other. In it He gives us the opportunity to do teshuva; to make things right when we have done wrong; to start again. Our God is the God of beginning again!