The majority of this week’s reading is devoted to G-d’s warning of severe curses that will come upon the Jewish nation, if it acts with disregard for the laws of the Torah. As these curses come from a loving G-d, they stem from a place of love, and are a warning intended to spur change. About this King Solomon wrote “The discipline of G-d, my son, do not detest, and do not loathe His reproach. For whom G-d loves, He reproaches, and as a father to a son, He will conciliate (Proverbs 3:11-12).”
As the reading turns to a second, new round of more severe curses, those words are preceded with words of guidance: “And if as a result of these [curses] you will will not turn to Me, and you proceed with your lawlessness, I too will proceed with lawlessness…” It’s puzzling that this verse expresses G-d’s absolute justice as “lawlessness,” though it comes in response to Israel’s similar behavior — lawlessness for lawlessness. How could lawlessness, a lack of justice, be considered justice?
The regular protection of G-d is a blessing we often overlook, and that is what this verse intends to remind us about. If G-d removes His protection, the consequence is that we are left abandoned in a lawless world, where the elements of nature and man immediately endanger us. We are ordinarily under G-d’s constant protection, insuring that our bodies function properly, and that we are safe from the dangers of our environment. The moment that protection is removed, we are vulnerable. (Based on the teachings of HaRav Yaakov Weinberg zt”l).
The modern world comes with many freedoms, for which we are grateful. However, what we see is that when freedom becomes the ultimate value, people demand to be free of even the most sensible restrictions on their personal liberty.
This is the challenge our world faces at this moment. We can’t ignore the effect it has on our personal attitudes, especially our spiritual life. When society throws off the restraints of civilization, we have to strengthen and embrace G-d’s guiding laws. When governments drop their restrictions, lives are endangered by the environment of lawlessness. To merit G-d’s protection from this loss of control, we need to embrace the controls G-d has blessed us with.
What you say is not freedom but anarchy. As an example, you can not yell fire in a theatre. Freedom has limitations as well. What you are saying is god sets the rules and we have to obey. That is not freedom. If anything, its closer to dictatorship with no say in your own life. Not acceoptable!
You’re absolutely right. Freedom has to have limitations, but a society based on freedom will slowly erode in the direction of anarchy.
In regard to G-d’s rules – the Torah – we have free choice. The Torah puts it this way: “Life and death I put before you today, the blessing and the curse. And you should choose life so that you and your children should live. (Dev. 30:19)” There are many people today who have chosen the curse, and the death over blessing and life. No one forced them either way. However, the consequences are those of a life of lawlessness, and not much of an eternal life.
If one chooses a Torah life, it’s no dictatorship. It’s a life with G-d as Master, and us on a mission to follow and carry out His will. Observant Jews make many choices on how to structure and steer throughout their life, but it’s all within the framework of the laws and principles of the Torah. The sages say there’s no one more liberated than one who is engaged in the study and observance of Torah. As you said, lawlessness and anarchy are not freedom. Life with limits, drawn by the One who created life and loves His creation, is the freedom to choose a meaningful, eternal life.
Can you please share how this applies to the current gun laws in the United States. I think things are lawless and way out of control with lives being needlessly cut short. I think that Hashem is sending a big message. Or, is man sending Hashem a message?