Around the Shabbos table (Parshas Shoftim)

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The Torah (Devarim 18:10;11) absolutely condemns and forbids all forms of idol worship. However, the Sages of Mussar teach us that there is something very valuable that we can learn from idol worshippers.

The inhabitants of the ancient world who practiced idol worship, would not set out on a journey, nor perform any deed without first consulting witchcraft  (a type of idol worship), or the like. From their very disgrace, we see their praise.  For despite their corrupt conduct, there is an element of correctness in their world outlook.

Namely, they did not rely on their own judgment! Rather, before they acted they looked for guidance through their various devices. They believed that these mediums were tuned in to the Divine Will.  Hence, their mistake was that they relied on intermediary powers and not on HaShem – Who is the Master of all.  However, they understood – far more than modern man – the wisdom of subjugating their actions to the Divine Will.

In the wilderness, the anon – the pillar of cloud – guided the children of  Israel on their journeys. The Seforno teaches that the anon is a mitzvah that applies to every generation. Yet, the cloud was only manifest during the forty years that they sojourned in desert. How is relevant to any subsequent generation?

HaShem revealed Himself to the generation that was redeemed from Egypt. They merited to see the anon and traveled according to its movements and cessations. Nevertheless, every generation must observe the Mitzvah of the anon – meaning – that must find a confirmation that everything we do is in compliance with the Divine Will.

When an infant is about ten months old he tries to grab the spoon from his Mother and feed himself. It is human nature to exert our independence. However, the purpose of our creation is to “make our will, His will”.

Our Sages tell us that Avraham Avinu did not even move his finger unless HaShem instructed him to do so. As we approach, Rosh HaShanah – we can prepare ourselves to accept that HaShem is the King of the universe, by remembering not to act until we are certain that we are acting in accordance with the Will of HaShem (based on Da’as Torah of Rav Yerucham HaLevi)

Today: Consider which deeds are in accordance with HaShem’s Will.

Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Zvi Miller and the Salant Foundation

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