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Are you brave enough?

09/09/2020 12:54:30 PM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

Sometimes the answer to a question is a simple one; that you might not know where to find it is a different matter. If I were to ask you “What does God require of you?”, that is most likely the start of either a lengthy conversation, or, perhaps, one not so lengthy. The prophet Micah, who lived in the ancient land of Israel between roughly 740-670 BCE, spelled it out succinctly, when he wrote the following:

                You have been told what is good and what the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love kindness and to walk humbly                    with Your God.

There you have it. Simple. Terse. Easy to remember. One would think easy to fulfill, yet implementation is where humanity runs into trouble. Let’s start with a potentially easier concept – to love kindness. Who does not yearn kindness? Treat people kindly, and they in turn will treat you kindly. Right? I know, I know. I can hear your answers right now. Let’s move on to the last one. How would one walk humbly with God? How would one dare to suggest that they merit walking with God to begin with? Of course, if one was in such a situation, I would not think that any of us would walk boldly or arrogantly with God. Since God is all around us, it is possible at any given moment that God is in your presence yet you do not know. That means that any time we act, it should be humbly, so that people might be compelled to say: she walks with God.

How does one act justly? Might it be easier to define if I were to ask you to give examples of how one might act unjustly? Why is it easier to come up with unjust examples? What does that say about us as a species?

It is rather incredible that the Hebrew prophets existed at all. There was no specific school for prophets nor job application process; God chose you through dreams. God would convey the message that the prophet was expected to deliver to the people. Prophets were keen observers of Israelite society, and particularly prone to chastising the people as they fell away from the mitzvot, demanding of them that they measure up to the standard that God expected of them.

Where are the prophets of today? We most likely would not listen to an old man with a beard (sorry, but that’s what they were back then), possibly a staff, standing in the center of town and chastising people for their behavior. We would laugh off the words as the ravings of a mentally ill individual, much like those who hold up signs that the end of the world is coming.

A careful reading of the prophets teaches us that the complaints that they had of Israelite society are the same as today: lack of care and concern for those less fortunate. In essence, 2,500 years have passed but we have not changed. That is not to discount the wonderful organizations and individuals who work hard every day to help those less fortunate, for they are a critical part of our society, and I shudder to think where we might be if not for them. But where are the voices that everyone will listen to and respect, who demand that we act justly, love kindness, and walk humbly with God? Are you brave enough to fill the void?

Fri, January 22 2021 9 Shevat 5781