Righteous Towards God


Moshe Ben-Chaim



Reader: Dear Rabbi, in reference to your article “Lebanon: Tisha B’Av & Teshuva” in last weeks issue, you said it is vital to participate in “active sacrifice”. Question: How do we engage in “active sacrifice”? There is no Temple to offer upon. Could we be fulfilling this concept by “sacrificing” by not eating non-kosher foods? “Sacrificing” by not driving in a car on Shabbat? “Sacrificing” by not smoking on Shabbat? “Sacrificing” by not eating chametz on Pesach?

When we obey all negative commandments, not doing things we enjoy to do, aren’t we engaging in active sacrifice? Therefore you are saying that whenever we sacrifice, giving up doing the pleasurable things, are we saying, “we owe our lives to our Creator?” If I am all wrong, how do I actively engage in sacrifice? Have I “Lost Site” of this concept?


Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim: The concept of sacrifice I discussed, was specifically animal sacrifice. The idea behind sacrifice is that man demonstrates his true state: that he would not exist, just as this sacrificed animal, had God not created him. This explains why Adam sacrificed an animal immediately upon his creation. Other Torah restrictions you mention do not carry this lesson for the performer. If so, are we without this realization today? Sadly, we are, but as the Rabbis instituted prayer in place of sacrifice, there is much association between prayer and sacrifice. Focusing on God in prayer, we also recognize the concept of sacrifice, that we are dependent on God. This idea of dependency is akin to the idea that we are created, since being created means by definition, that we are dependent on a Creator.


Reader: Can we expect of God; (Psalm 94: 1-95:3), to turn upon them (Hezbollah), their own violence, and with their own evil He will cut them off, when the current Israeli State’s leadership is bereft of God and His Torah? Can we expect of God, for the sake of the observant Jews in Israel, to fulfill the above? If we do not witness God’s intervention directly, can we anticipate His use of the IDF indirectly to fulfill his promise?
If this military campaign ends in failure, can we conclude that God is looking at the majority of Israeli non-Torah observant Jews’ irreligious state and not at the observant Jews of the world’s wishes and hopes and prayers? Thank you for answering these difficult questions.


Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim: We must be as Abraham “righteous towards God”, and pay Him the honor due Him…for claiming knowledge of God’s interventions is impossible unless we witness a miracle, and such a claim mitigates God’s exclusive omniscience. What we can know, are His attributes of justice, kindness, righteousness, etc., all taught in His Torah, and how He intervened in the lives of those righteous patriarchs and matriarchs, and the Jews, throughout history. If we live by His principles and fundamentals, we are assured a good life by means of His intervention, and also, by means of reason: since the world operates based on reasonable laws created by God, when we adhere to reason, we will experience a life that meets with no friction with the world, but rather, with serenity.

God will keep His word to destroy His enemies, since nothing can affect God, and that He should change is also impossible. Certainly if Israel was guided by Torah principles they would find greater favor in God’s eyes, and certainly, Hezbollah are God’s enemies. But human capacity excludes any faculties, which can know God’s mind so as to determine whether any given event was due to man, or to God.

However, the Rabbis teach that God determines the fate of the Jewish “nation” – not individuals, unless they are perfected. So it is safe to say that if Israel as a whole suffers during this time, God is not protecting the nation. We must then change our ways to comply with God’s Torah-mandated commands, so as to live in Israel, and in peace.