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Thought for the Day: Being Good Vs. Acting in Consonance with Good

I have heard this year's (2016 CE, for you future readers) presidential election (in the United States of America, which was the final location of the Roman diaspora, also for you readers in the perhaps more distant future) as the "Sophie's Choice" election.  Of course, it is ridiculous to believe that either candidate got there without ever making a single reasonable statement; at least on the surface and disregarding the speaker.  To that point, I a wonderful way to understand this in the name of R' Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin; fondly and respectfully known as the Netziv.

In Volozhin, where the Netziv was rosh yeshiva, a discussion was ensuing regarding how helpful the government had been of late.  When the rosh yeshiva was asked his opinion, he said he would answer with a משל/parable.
A certain woman became ill and the doctors were at a loss to find the cause and were unable to even treat her symptoms.  Finally an expert in a distant city was consulted and he said that she would need to eat the liver from a pig.  She was, of course, aghast and summarily refused.  The doctors and her family, though, reminded her that in a case of life and death (which was certainly where she found herself), it would be a mitzvah to eat the pig liver; and, in fact, a terrible sin to refuse.  She relented, but demanded that the pig be shechted (slaughtered according to Jewish law).  A shochet was called, the situation explained, and the pig was "shechted".  She then demanded that the lungs be checked -- it had to be "glatt".  The woman was suffering and in order to minimize her distress, they acquiesced to this demand as well.  As it happened, the lungs were found to have some questionable סירכות/flaws.  The rav was consulted and proclaimed, "I cannot possibly declare this to be a kosher slaughter, as it is -- after all -- a pig.  However, I can say that were these סירכות to be found on the lung of a kosher animal, they would not be a problem.
R' Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld once made an even stronger statement.  During his tenure as chief rabbi of Yerushalayim, he we approached by an well know and well (secularly) educated apikoros.  This apikoros wanted to speak at a dinner of the Edah HaChareidis and assured all that he would use only sources approved by R' Sonnenfeld for his speech.  R' Sonnenfeld denied his request with a simple statement: If one takes even glatt kosher meat and cooks it in a pan used for treif, the meat is rendered treif.  Certainly any ideas, no matter how kosher their source, will be rendered completely treif after being filtered through your mind that is so steeped in apikorsus!

The basic message is clear.  Even though the PLO may have a used more diplomatic methods than originally, they are still a terrorist organization with a clear and undeniable mandate calling for the elimination of the State of Israel.  Even though rabbis of the Reform Jewish Religion may call for women to use the mikveh and congregants to perform certain rituals on Saturdays, they are still an anti-Torah organization that denies the divine source of both the Oral and even Written Law.  Those specific actions of both organizations would certainly be be "good" in a kosher organization; they are nothing but a subterfuge to gain an air of respectability that -- they hope -- will allow them more success in their very destructive aims.

On a more personal level, especially relevant this time of year, as we head into the Days of Awe: We need to be suspicious of our own motives in our activities that seem so good on the surface.  Am I learning for the intellectual stimulation or to come closer to HaShem?  Are my l'chaim's to build by eternal life or to fuse myself even more permanently with this temporary world?

In this modern world where we are inundated like never before with professionally marketed and personally targeted messages from the סיטרא אחרא (aka יצר הרע aka השטן aka ...), no step is too small, no inclination too slight to be recognized and appreciated by our Father, our Creator.

גמר חתימה טובה


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