Friday, August 31, 2007

Fear of HaShem or Fear of Man

It is a busy erev Shabbos, so I'll make it short.

This post is important, of course, not to the exception of the others.

What takes precedence fear of HaShem (G-d), or fear of people.

Of course the fear of HaShem takes precedence, as we learn in The Torah, " not fear from before man, for the judgment belongs to G-d..." (Divarim: 1; 17) We learn in many places in The Torah where we are commanded to perform a certain mitzvah, and, following that, the pasuk states, "and you shall fear from your G-d". The above-quoted phrase is preceded in the same pasuk with the judge being instructed to not show favoritism in judgment regardless of whether the person is "great" or is "small". The qualified judge in matters of Torah law, is acting as the agent of HaShem, and would not being do so if he would show favoritism in judgment, regardless of whether it turns out that the judgment is correct or incorrect.

At certain points in history, there may be groups of people that wield a lot of power, whether physical, political, or both. Therefore, many leaders within the true Torah community may feel reticent to act in opposition to such people, as it may cause a "political firestorm" or may bring "anger" against those who act. I'm talking about a situation where the side which truly represents The Torah, (not those who merely dress the part, merely putting up a veneer of falsehood), act in a peaceful manner and expose the halachic truth (i.e. true Jewish law), not allowing themselves to be personally harmed, whether spiritually, physically, or both, by the other side who really affects them spiritually, knowingly, or, often, unknowingly. The B'nei Yisrael did not worship the golden calf. There were a few thousand individuals (from the erev rav - the "mixed multitude") who actually were involved in the worship of the golden-calf. That being the case, why are the B'nei Yisrael punished in light of their not having taken part in this egregious sin? Moshe prayed to HaShem to not wipe out the B'nei Yisrael as a result of this sin, it being so egregious. The answer is, that the B'nei Yisrael, who were by far greater in number than those who worshiped the golden-calf, didn't act to stop this terrible sin (Chur acted against them on his own and was murdered by the people). The people were held accountable for not taking action to quell the spiritually (and almost physically) disastrous sin of the few thousand.

It is very simple. HaShem tells us to act in a manner which we exhibit fear of G-d, rather than fear of man, when it comes to matters of Jewish law. If someone "discovers" a law, that is accepted, and has been accepted as the halacha for many years, and he sees that, with the exception of a relatively very small number of people, no one is taking action against the wrong, claiming that "there are two sides", then ask them to provide you the halachic source for that "other side". If they provide it and it is convincing, maybe that means there are truly two sides. However, if they can't provide any sources and it turns out that the lack of opposition a given wrong is due to political considerations, then intelligently act to rally many people behind you who will help you fight the battle on behalf of Torah and the truth - your army will consist of those who fear HaShem over man, and if you act for what is truly the truth, don't be surprised by any success, for it is HaShem who determines success - not man! Have a Good Shabbos and a K'siva V'Chasimah Tovah.