The Week & Parsha
Friday February 21st: Shabbat begins 5:09pm
Saturday February 22nd: Shabbat ends 6:18pm
This weeks Sidrah: Mishpatim
Cyberspace, outer space, inner space. Genome maps, globalization, going to Mars. Smart cards, smart bombs, stem cells and cell phones. There is no denying it: we live in a new age. Science fiction has become scientific fact. And the question is asked: In this new world order, with science and technology changing the way we live, is religion still relevant? Do we still need to subscribe to an ancient and seemingly long-obsolete code of laws, when we are so much further advanced than our ancestors?
But let me ask you: Have the Ten Commandments passed their “sell-by” date? Are faith and doubt, murder and adultery, thievery and jealousy out of fashion? Notwithstanding all our marvelous medical and scientific developments, has human nature itself really changed? Are not the very same moral issues that faced our ancestors still challenging our own generation?
Whether it’s an oxcart or a Mercedes, road rage or courteous coexistence is still a choice we must make. Looking after aged parents is not a new problem. The very same issues dealt with in the Bible—sibling rivalry, jealous spouses and warring nations—are still the stuff of newspaper headlines today. We still struggle with knowing the difference between right and wrong, moral or immoral, ethical or sneaky, and not even the most souped-up computer on earth is able to answer those questions for us.
Science and technology address the how and what of life, but they do not answer the question of why. Why are we here in the first place? Why should I be nice to my neighbor? Why should my life be nobler than my pet Doberman’s? Science and technology have unraveled many mysteries that puzzled us for centuries. But they have not answered a single moral question. Only Torah addresses the moral minefield. And those issues are perhaps more pressing today than ever before in history.
Torah is truth, and truth is eternal. Scenarios come and go. Lifestyles change with the geography. The storylines are different, but the gut-level issues are all too familiar. If we ever needed a Torah—we need it equally today, and maybe more so. May we continue to find moral guidance and clarity in the eternal truths of our holy and eternal Torah. Amen.
Rabbi Yossi Goldman