The Only Antidote to Evil

“The Holocaust is an extortion racket — there were never any death camps!”, shouts an insane Nazi running for Congress in Illinois.

“And if there were, don’t call them Polish — it was the Germans who did it”, say the political descendants of collaborators who gleefully handed our grandparents over to the accursed Nazis or took care of the job on their own.

Such is the way of evil.

It will never come out and say “I am evil. I murder. I rape.” Rather, it avoids responsibility for its actions, and when confronted with the facts will cloak itself in some twisted logic to justify its repugnant, despicable behavior.


“And these are the Civic Laws you shall place before the People”, says G-d at the very beginning of this week’s Parsha. He then enumerates a long list of statutes that deal mostly with civil issues, such as murder, liability for damages, etc.

“And these are the Civic Laws”? … what’s up with the grammar? Our first-grade teachers warned us not to begin a sentence with “And”; “These are the Civic Laws”, would have been the more grammatically-appropriate beginning.

In fact, “And” is not the beginning of a new sentence. It’s a continuation of last week’s Parsha. Last week was the story of the great revelation at Sinai. G-d Himself descended upon the mountain to appear before the People and set forth a Code for this newly born Nation — and for all of humanity — to live by.

A “code”, that is. Not a religion.

Judaism is not a religion. “Religion” has a connotation of a compartmentalized set of ideas and rituals meant to provide the means to transcend mundane life and enjoy the pleasures of the spirit. As to navigating the dark and confusing pathways of life in the real world — well, society believes that it’s left to its own devices to try and figure out a way forward by the power of its hopefully-moral-logic. The results of our reliance on that human logic in order to create a civic society are there for all to see in the carnage of the last 150 years…

It’s about time the world understood that the only Civic code that will endure is one that is not subject to the whims of a human who can twist logic to conform to his own behavior, but vice versa. Our civic code — much of it laid out in this week’s Parsha — comes from G-d at Sinai. The reason why we are not allowed to murder is very simple: G-d said not to; all logic to the contrary, be damned.

Peace is not the product of a subjective human mind. It is the product of a human mind subjecting itself to the objective Moral Code that demands peace.

About the Author
Rabbi Yossi Deren was born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1973, lived in Western Massachusetts through the '80s and today serves as the Spiritual Leader and Executive Director of Chabad Lubavitch of Greenwich, Connecticut. Together with his wife Maryashie, they founded the synagogue-center in 1996 as Emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory.
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