12 August 2012

Rabbi Richman, "You Didn't Build That ...


The Tower of Bavel Plan

"You didn't build that" is the equivalent of the tower of Bavel creed, where every soul was subservient to the great machinery of erecting an earthly edifice.

"You didn't build that," like the architects of the tower of Bavel plan, is designed, knowingly or unknowingly, to suck the life out of man, and replace the dominion of G-d with a man-based power. This is, in fact, the ultimate degradation of man, made in the image of G-d, that our verse from Deuteronomy warns us against. Once we lose our connection to G-d, in spite of all the brotherhood of man rhetoric that we may invoke and even sincerely believe in, the road to egoism, self aggrandizement and the devaluation of human worth, is perilously short.

Torah exhorts us to push ourselves and strive constantly to reach our potential as human beings. We are, Torah tells us, the children of G-d, created in His image. It is our obligation to create and encourage and maximize the good on this earth. Torah is simply reminding us that, like the first man, we constantly have a choice before us, and that boils down to "stick with G-d, or not." That choice remains ours always, through good times and bad, through lean years and also at the height of our wealth. It is Torah that governs the life of the nation in the land of Israel, and any form of government that is created in order to unify and protect the nation is done so in the name of Torah.

There is no government in Israel independent of G-d's jurisdiction. It can be attempted but it simply cannot exist. This is the truth, on the collective level, embodied in the words. "And you will say to yourself, "My strength and the might of my hand that has accumulated this wealth for me." Torah likewise reminds us that we are the children of our forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, that we are always in G-d's eyes a community of individuals each with his own unique connection to G-d, and by allowing each individual to express this connection via the fulfillment of Torah responsibilities and privileges, we can together create a just and thriving Torah society.

Governments are by nature, fallible. The Government of Israel approved what they consider to be a necessary tax increase. One can agree or disagree with the government's policy, but the finance minister had these sage words to say:

"Just like in matters of security, when it come to the economy we cannot rely on anyone but ourselves - and,of course, our Father in the Heavens." In short, we did build it, and we will continue to build it, just as long as we always bear in our minds and in our hearts, the heavenly admonition: "Beware that you do not forget HaShem, your G-d, by not keeping His commandments, His ordinances, and His statutes, which I command you this day."

The Temple Institute

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