A Thought for Shabbos
“Dear President Zuma, and the whole South African Government,
As you know there is a big problem with people hurting others with guns in South Africa and around the world...
...I would like to suggest a law that will bring them to melt their guns and swords into tools of farming and cooking to help the needy, making the world a safer place for boys and girls and the coming of Moshiach (Messiah) now.
P.S. If you would like to write back to me my address is 66 Erica Road, Cape Town.
P.P.S. For now this law should not be for Soldiers and Police who still need to keep us all safe.”
This letter was Musya’s idea (with a CC sent to Pres Obama, President of Israel and another one on the way to the U.N. next week) as a way of making the world a safer place. (She’s given me permission to scan the original handwritten note before it was sent off to Pretoria today and to share it with others on request).
It was two words in her P.P.S. that caught my attention. Yes, get rid of all the weapons. But “for now” the soldiers and police still need theirs.
It’s a pity that an innocent seven year old child is still very much aware of the need for a strong armed security force.
But what a blessing that she realizes that even that is only “for now.”
This Shabbos we read the Mitzvah of establishing a Judicial System which must include a police force as well “Judges and Officers you shall establish in the gates of all your cities.”
Interestingly, when Isaiah talks about the return to a better world he speaks of G-d restoring “Your Judges and Advisers” as they were in the times of old.
What about the officers that the Torah talks about?
Well, apparently, in the world of Yeshayahu's prophetic vision we will still have Judges to instruct us on the law. But we won’t need officers to execute it forcefully.
We’ll have advisers to inspire us to do it.
I still recall this Shabbos 20 years ago when I was sitting at the Rebbe’s Farbrengen as he spoke so movingly of a world where we wouldn’t need external pressure to guide our better self.
Rather an era of Moshiach when internal inspiration, albeit by the guiding light of the Judges and Advisers around us, would bring us all to live a higher and better life.
“So let’s start now” the Rebbe suggested.
“G-d blesses us with people in our life and time who convey a message with Judicial authority but with Advice expressing their personal sensitivity.
Let’s start living that life now by the words of the Judges and Advisers of our time. Seek out the prophetic message that G-d sends you specifically in the words of Torah, and the person who can translate that message into your personal life.”
For me, that Shabbos was a message that I see more personal and relevant with each passing day.
Yes, we have officers today. They're the consequences of our daily decisions or attitudes that we know forthright are not congruent with our inner truth. And time and again we “do the same thing expecting a different result” as Einstein famously described insanity.
So instead of breathlessly escaping the pitfalls in the rat race of life, the Rebbe asked us to replace our “officers” with advisers, hindsight with foresight, and struggle with serenity.
If ever the Prophetic words with the authority of a Judge and the sensitive patience of an Adviser, those words ring as true today, as when I first heard them on Shabbat afternoon exactly twenty years ago.
With best wishes for a Shabbos of Prophetic Advice,
Rabbi Asher Deren