Balak: Tammuz 17: Are You Independent?



Are you free?

The convergence of Tammuz 17 on this Shabbat and July 4th later this week challenges us to answer a basic question about the state of our lives today: Are we dependent or independent?

We associate independence with doing whatever we like. But can a country, can anyone, be truly independent?

Today is Tammuz 17, when the walls of Jerusalem were breached. What is the antidote to destruction and devastation? Perhaps true independence?

Further, this week’s Torah reading teaches us something about true freedom. It does so via the story of a disgusting idol named Baal Peor. The cult of Baal Peor involved the worship of waste – literally. Why in the world would intelligent Jews be attracted to such a despicable form of idol worship?!

What can we learn from this narrative about overcoming destruction, stress and wastefulness, and bringing about the Ultimate Redemption?

This sermon demonstrates how to focus on what matters and not on the “waste” in our lives. By removing all of life’s refuse we find the true essence of a free and independent life.








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