Sometimes it seems to us that life is nothing more than a never-ending series of misfortunes. We find ourselves looking and waiting for the next bad thing to happen to us. When the next one does come, we reinforce the thought within our minds that we knew something bad was coming. It is said that we find what we seek. If we look for the bad things that might happen to us, we will most definitely find them. Fortunately for us, the opposite of this is also true. When we look for the good, we will find it. Continue reading “Can Your Life Change in an Instant”
When the Creator, blessed be His name, gave His Torah at Mount Sinai He told the Children of Israel He was setting before them life and death and that they should choose life. We make choices every day. Some are easy while others require some thought on our part. The choices we make in our lives make us who we are. I choose to follow the G-d of Avraham. In doing so, I have accepted upon myself everything that goes along with that. The Talmud tells us there are 613 commandments in the Torah. These commandments have various rules that go along with them as well. I choose to follow them and do them to the best of my ability. Furthermore, I accept them without even knowing what all of them are and what they entail. This is the same thing the Children of Israel did at Sinai. “na’aseh v’nishma“–“We will do and we will hear/understand.” This teaches us that understanding comes after doing. Indeed, our understanding of Torah can only come after doing what it says. Further, the more that we do what it says, the deeper our understanding becomes. But, before you can do any of it, you must choose to do it. So why would you choose to do it? Isn’t that a lot to do? Continue reading “The Reality of Free Will”
There is plenty of talk about all of the evil in the world today. Murder, rape, violent crime, and terrorism are just a few examples. When we take a deeper look at the evil in the world, we find domestic violence, child abuse, robbery, corruption, even animal abuse. All of these are good examples of some of the evils in the world today. As a society, we like to think that our generation faces more evils than the world has ever seen. If we look at the Bible we find this to be false. Genesis 6: 5-6 tell us that there was so much evil in the world before the flood that HaShem regretted having created us. 5 And the Lord saw that the evil of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of his heart was only evil all the time.6 And the Lord regretted that He had made man upon the earth, and He became grieved in His heart. It says that every imagination of his [man’s] heart was only evil. That’s a lot of evil. It is foolish to think that the evil we face today is any worse than the evil they faced in those days. Ecclesiastes 1:9 teaches us that 9 What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
What do we know about evil? One of the major breakthroughs of the information age is research. There have been countless studies into what makes people commit evil acts. Any of us can go online and look up these studies and learn for ourselves what science tells us are the reasons for these acts. What science cannot tell us is the source of evil in the world. Again, I turn to the Bible for the answer. Isaiah 45:6-8 tells us the source. 6 In order that they know from the shining of the sun and from the west that there is no one besides Me; I am the Lord and there is no other. 7 Who forms light and creates darkness, Who makes peace and creates evil; I am the Lord, Who makes all these. 8 Cause the heavens above to drip, and let the skies pour down righteousness; let the earth open, and let salvation and righteousness be fruitful; let it cause them to sprout together; I, the Lord, have created it. Also in Amos 3:6 Will a shophar be sounded in the city and the people not quake? Will there be evil in the city if the Lord has not done it? Yes, you read that correctly. Evil comes from the Lord. In Deuteronomy 30: 15-16 it says, 15 Behold, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil, 16 inasmuch as I command you this day to love the Lord, your God, to walk in His ways, and to observe His commandments, His statutes, and His ordinances, so that you will live and increase, and the Lord, your God, will bless you in the land to which you are coming to take possession of it. Why has HaShem put evil in the world? The reason is very simple. It is in order to give us the ability to choose Him. Without giving us this choice, we don’t have free will. Without evil, we could not know hatred. Without hatred, we could not know love. Can you imagine the world without love?
Throughout the Bible, we find stories where G-d turns something evil into something good. Joseph was sold into slavery, spent years in an Egyptian prison, and later became second only Pharoh. Within this same story, we find that G-d sent a famine into the land of Cannan where Jacob and his family lived. They were forced to go to Egypt looking for food and as a result, Jacob was reunited with the son he thought was dead. There are many stories just like this. All of these stories have an underlying theme. G-d can take something which we perceive as evil and make it good. Not only does He make it good. He makes it extremely good; so much so that it could only be His will that makes it happen. Could the children of Israel have simply walked away from over two hundred years of bondage without divine intervention? Could Abraham have survived when Nimrod had him thrown into a furnace? Likewise with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego? Daniel was thrown into a den of lions, survived without a scratch and was made Viceroy. Moses fled Egypt, running for his life and later returned as the greatest prophet of all time. Elijah fled for his life. David fled for his life. Jacob fled for his life. In all of these stories, they faced an evil which HaShem used to perform miracles.
After the times of the Bible, Israel would face some of the most evil times in its history. The Romans devastated the people. They flayed the flesh from the great Rabbi Akiva for the crime of teaching Torah. The Roman Empire would later spilt, with the remnants becoming the Roman Catholic Church. These later Romans spent centuries killing Jews who refused to convert to Christianity. They were forced out of Spain at the hands of the Inquisition. Many submitted to conversion. Others fled to Portugal. Part of the deal made with Queen Isabella to finance the journeys of Columbus included running the Jews out of Portugal. Many Jews from this period were received by the Muslim-controlled Ottoman Empire where they were allowed to live freely. Antisemitism later reached a climax in twentieth century Germany where at least six million Jews were savagely murdered. Some estimates put that number at close to nine million Jews whose only crime was being Jewish. Civilized people of today don’t understand how this could have happened. Many are now denying that it did happen. This is a foolish claim since much of it was filmed at the time. After two thousand years of hatred, forced conversions, killings, and varying degrees of rampant antisemitism, we were blessed with the reformation of the state of Israel in 1948.
The title of this article is “Turning Evil into Good: the Conclusion”. I chose this title because we are approaching the conclusion of this age. The biggest evil in the world which the Jewish people have faced since the time of the Bible has been Christianity. While it is true that the Holocaust saw the murder of the largest number of Jews in recorded history, it too had its roots in Christianity. Hitler was a fan of Martin Luther who also supported, even called for the mass killing of the Jewish people. It is no doubt that Christianity has been the leading cause of death among Jewish people since the time of Jesus, who ironically, was a Jew.
Christianity, of course, has its roots in Judaism. The early Christians were Jews who were misled by a false prophet. By the end of the first century, however, Christianity was its own entity. It was no longer made up of Jews. It was made up of Romans and Greeks, both of whom hated the Jews. What happened all those years ago set the stage for the final and biggest example of HaShem turning something evil into something amazing for the Jewish people; the Messianic Age. Isaiah 53 explains that the Jewish people, after having been despised and rejected (vs 3-4), will be used by G-d to vindicate the just (v11). You see, G-d has always used the little guy to further His purpose. Look back at the stories we discussed earlier. Joseph, Jacob, Moses, David, Daniel, and Elijah were all the little guy. G-d uses the small and weak to show His glory to the big and the strong. This is exactly what will happen in the final story.
Look at the Jewish people. Compared to other religions of the world they are the smallest. Christianity is the biggest by far. Christianity is the Goliath that will be destroyed by a son of David. Like Egypt, Christianity has been allowed to become grand. In their grandiosity, they have oppressed the Jewish people. They are like Esau, who could have supported his brother Jacob, but decided to stand aside and let His brother be destroyed (Obadiah 1). They are the fourth kingdom of Daniel chapter 2 that will be destroyed when G-d sets up the kingdom that will not be destroyed. The question is, on which side do you want to be?
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