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Harvey, Meet Abraham

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Our society’s ‘top echelons’ seem to have a large closet, because the dirty laundry just keeps coming.

Whichever sector takes its turn in today’s headlines (will it be Arts and Entertainment? Politics? Education? Religion?), the lesson seems to be clear:

Power can be very self-corruptive.

A physical assault is obviously illegal, and we have laws to address such gross violations. But let’s not lose sight of a much more insidious issue, one which is therefore so much more difficult to prove:

People regularly use power to subtly coerce others to meet their needs.

It happens all the time, between ‘consenting’ adults and without physical assault. So it may often be legal, but is it always moral? On the other hand, how can society legislate morality without squelching our fundamental freedoms?

The ultimate answer is that we need to SELF-regulate, because personal morality comes from within.

So how does a person find the strength to control his/her cravings, when the road to satisfaction seems wide open because one’s ‘power’ seems stronger than any downside? When you’ve successfully closed the door and drawn the shades, and believe you have an open opportunity for self-gratification, how do you find the strength to pull back your reins?

We need to recognize that we can never actually draw the shades. Because G-d, and His extension in your personal conscience, is always there.

Now THAT was predictable. A Rabbi saying that G-d is the answer to society’s problem. Who would’ve thunk??:)

I get that. But please bypass the messenger and consider the message.

As long as a person believes that HE/SHE is the center of the universe, it’s likely that person will conveniently shape morality’s definition. We’re subjective creatures, ingenious at manipulating the world to satisfy our personal conscience.

Reading the past weeks’ headlines in this key, they shout the need for objective moral standards.

Belief in a higher Authority, acceptance that there is an objective right and wrong, and a deep sense of responsibility, are the backbone of genuine morality.

Yes, I know that many people are suspicious of organized religion.

If that’s you, don’t give up.

Try disorganized religion.

Just find a relationship with G-d.

Our forefather Abraham spent decades searching for G-d, and ultimately found what he was looking for.

So search. And please don’t give up.

Our society depends on you.

By Rabbi Mendel Herson, Executive Director of Chabad of Greater Somerset County. Reprinted with permission. 

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