Parshas Acharei and Morality
EVEN THOUGH the parshah begins with the Yom Kippur service, it spends some time discussing forbidden relationships. In fact, this is the section that we read during Minchah on Yom Kippur, because the matters are inherently connected. They have also been a major discussion throughout the history of mankind.
It’s amazing how much they are an issue once again. Nurture, or nature? That’s one argument. Are the moral norms of society naturally human, or were they instilled by earlier generations which, for one reason or another, thought such values were better for society.
That discussion only starts if someone is already holding that the values did not come from God Himself. People who believe that the Torah is not Divine in origin believe that the relationship boundaries within it are manmade, and therefore open for discussion and certainly revision.
If someone believes that God gave the Torah, then clearly there is something inherently “natural” about avoiding certain relationships. God made the world a certain way and set the rules of Creation. He could have made the world any way He wanted with any kind of guidelines. If He forbade certain relationships it is because maintaining such boundaries best further the cause of Creation.
Twitter can make you immoral, claim scientistsSocial networks such as Twitter may blunt people's sense of morality, claim brain scientists. New evidence shows the digital torrent of information from networking sites could have long-term damaging effects on the emotional development of young people's brains. A study suggests rapid-fire news updates and instant social interaction are too fast for the 'moral compass' of the brain to process. [this, no less is from the DailyMail]
Why does it even make a difference?
The first answer is that this is what matters to God. We don’t understand His way of thinking, as it says,
It is amazing that people do not believe in God. Even more amazing is how people who believe in God think they are smarter than Him. It is equally amazing how people assume that because they are “happier” with something that the Torah forbids that this is justification enough to have it. Happiness at all costs seems to be a popular motto.
The Talmud says that every 70 years God brings some kind of disaster to the world to rid it of illegitimate offspring. It may not be obvious to us because they die among many others who die for other reasons. World War II killed over 70 million people, but it certainly did not appear to be for the sake of removing children of illegitimate relationships. This is especially so since many of them may have been adults at the time of the war, and parents of their own children.
How many times has man pursued something because it was “there” and the eventual result was destructive? How many times have people chased after their desires only to find out down the road at what cost? This is the way desire works: eat, drink, and be merry today, and let tomorrow be what it may.
The trouble is that some prohibitions undermine Creation so severely, that the world cannot continue to function if they are perpetrated. Even if the transgressors do not know better, the world cannot bear the burden of such anti-Torah behavior. This forces Creation to have to “reboot” as it did in the time of the Flood, and on a smaller scale in Sdom.
Thus, the fact that illicit relationships do not matter to us does not mean that they do not matter to God, and that He won’t act to prevent them. It may appear to us that chaos in the world has nothing to do with sexual preferences of society when in fact, they are the Divine reason for it.
This should be reason enough to uphold the relationship boundaries set out in the Torah. We don’t understand Divine wisdom enough to tamper with them, and doing so only leads to destruction from Divine wrath. Not every science experiment has gone as planned. Tampering with the spiritual boundaries of Creation is even more dangerous, something we know far less about than the world of science.
The bigger question perhaps is why people want to break through the boundaries in the first place? It seems so natural for a man and woman to meet, like each other, and then marry and have children. The Talmud states that the world was made for the sake of procreation, so that would imply that even marriage is for this reason.
The mind and the heart are often at war with each other. Peace of mind, which everyone wants but few people ever achieve in a lasting way, is when they work in tandem. This can occur if a person is ignorant of right or wrong, and does his heart’s bidding. It is only true peace of mind when a person knows right from wrong, is committed to the former, and his heart accepts it as well.
Brainwashing works based upon the relationship of heart and mind. Basically, the idea is to cause the person so much pain that the mind gives up fighting for its rights. The heart is so overwhelming, due to brainwashing techniques, that the mind literally surrenders completely to the heart. It reboots, so-to-speak, leaving the person vulnerable to “education” from his captors as he once was from his parents.
Parents and educators, if they are loving, use the opportunity to “program” their children for good, to give them a fighting chance to not only survive but to thrive. Brainwashers are far from loving, and use the opportunity to program their victims to do their bidding in ways they themselves will not or cannot.
Tiva, desire, has no brains. It just wants. It has a natural attraction to all kinds of things, all of which bring it pleasure. It is not concerned if the pleasure is illicit or not. It just wants the pleasure, and sometimes, as the Talmud says, its illicitness only serves to enhance the pleasure by adding an element of risk. “Stolen waters are sweet,” until the “thief” is caught.
In a healthy person, even if the person is a ba’al tiva, someone who desires much physical pleasure, the mind doesn’t simply look the other way. People know when they are being gluttons and become disgusted with themselves as a result. This is why Amnon hated Tamar more than he desired her once he had his way. He had become lovesick to the point of forcing his way on her, and once he did, he rejected her because he rejected himself.
This is why those who wish to break the Torah’s boundaries must first discredit Torah. They have to delegitimize Torah so that their minds will have less of a problem succumbing to the intense physical desires of their hearts. To be able to live with themselves, they have to make the wrong right, or at least questionable, so that the mind will have less problem with it.
This is also why the Nazis had to first dehumanize the Jews to annihilate them. Even the criminals they freed from jail to become death squads had limits when it came to murdering Jews in cold blood. Before they could involve more “civilized” people in the process of genocide they had to first “brainwash” them into believing that the Jews were subhuman. They had to make them think that they were doing mankind a favor by wiping the Jewish nation out, every last man, woman, and child.
This is what Hitler, ysv”z, said about the Jewish people. He blamed them for imposing morality on mankind. He despised circumcision because of what it represented: sexual discipline and the need to develop oneself to be Godly. He wanted to have fun in life as he defined it. The Torah, vis-a-vis the Jewish people, stood in his way.
Thus, as German society became more open to changing social mores, the door opened to the Holocaust. It may not have been noticeable at first, but it certainly was in the end. Once a society gravitates downhill, every moral obstacle along its path becomes a nuisance and expendable, no matter how innocent.
It’s already happening again. Even though many Jews have joined the ranks of those who wish to abolish Torah standards, it will eventually turn on them as well. It did in the Holocaust. Though a Jew might cease to view himself as a Jew, his enemy never does.
The Campaign to Delegitimize Israel
Delegitimizing the Jewish State
Delegitimizing Jews and the Jewish State: Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism after Auschwitz
3D Test of Anti-Semitism:
Demonization, Double Standards, Delegitimization
All of that, however, is just part of the buildup to God’s reaction. In the end, World War II consumed everyone, Jews and non-Jews alike. The anti-Semites purged the Jews, but Heaven purged the world. The lie persisted, but only until God ran out of patience, so-to-speak.
How much more time will pass before it happens again is anyone’s guess, and everyone’s risk.
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AfD isn't nearly as toxic as the Nazis, to be clear. But its rise is a troubling sign for Germany — and the West in general. Germany held regional elections on Sunday in three states, and the results were shocking. The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which ran on a xenophobic, anti-immigrant platform. […] Der Spiegel has a nice map on this, showing the countries where far-right parties have a presence in parliament (yellow dots) or are actually part of the government (red dots). It turns out the xenophobic far right has surged in countries as diverse as Sweden, the UK, the Netherlands, and Hungary.