Parshat Haazinu: Making goodness the right choice

King David helps us understand our Creator by telling us about His goodness. Thus we assimilate that all that exists comes from goodness, and its purpose is also goodness. This is the context in which we understand the Torah as God’s instruction for us.

“The deeds of the Rock are perfect, for all His ways are just. A faithful God without injustice, He is righteous and upright. Destruction is not His; it is His children’s defect you crooked and twisted generation.” (Deuteronomy 32:4-5)

If something can be defined as perfect, that is goodness. There is no lack, error or deficiency in goodness. Hence it is just, fair and righteous as traits, means, ways and qualities with which we build, for there is no destruction in goodness. Thus we assimilate that the God of the Jews is the ruling principle in His creation.

In this awareness we exercise the free will He bestowed on us, and in our full knowledge of goodness we have to make it our choice. As we have mentioned often, our choices determine who we are, what we have, and what we are capable to do. We also have indicated that evil exists in order to enable our free will to choose goodness as what is right, just and fair. In this sense we understand that ego’s fantasies and illusions enable evil as the wrong choice.

“Is this how you repay the Lord, you disgraceful, unwise people?! Is He not your Father, your Master? He has made you and established you.” (32:6)

When Moses reminds us that God made us and established us, this is about goodness as our essence and true identity for which we live in this world. Anything different from goodness belongs to the realm of imagination as the playground of our materialistic dreams and desires. These are the vanities we rather choose, that create the separation that causes the “jealousy” and “anger” of goodness as what really matters in life.

As we become attached to our fantasies and illusions, these turn into either obsessions or addictions that never leave us in their “jealousy”. These are the “non-gods” and the “non-people” that afflict us.

“They have provoked My jealousy with a non-god, provoked My anger with their vanities. Thus, I will provoke their jealousy with a non-people, [and] provoke their anger with a foolish nation.” (32:21)

Our vanities are the false gods, idols and nations that we create as fantasies and illusions that end up ruling, oppressing and destroying the goodness in what we truly are. These encompass the “foolish nation” where we exile our lives. At some point, sooner or later, we return to the mirror of reality to face for what and for whom do we live.

“Then He will say, ‘Where is their deity, the rock in which they trusted, who ate the fat of their sacrifices and drank the wine of their libations? Let them arise and help you! Let them be your shelter’!” (32:37-38)

People live by their values and what these compel them to say and do. If instead of values or principles, they are ruled by the attachment or addiction to their fantasies and illusions, these should also come to their help when they need it. They also know that their fantasies and illusions as non-gods don’t have any power to save them from themselves. Only by their returning to goodness they will be redeemed.

We are reminded time and again that life is about choices, and that choices must be made with complete knowledge and awareness of what we are about to enter. Free will works in knowledge and not in ignorance. Hence the Torah teaches us constantly about what we should know about human nature, the dynamics of good and evil, our vanities and materialistic fantasies, traits and trends, blessings and curses, life and death. And all these instructions have the one and only purpose to choose goodness as the source of all blessings for which we live to enjoy our time in this world.

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.
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