Ethical monotheism in a noisy world.

We live in a noisy world. Have you noticed that it is almost impossible to go somewhere and experience complete quiet? As technology has increased and the ability to communicate has expanded, we are bombarded by voices and messages from all angles. And in this post-modern age one voice seems to be equal to any other. Who can tell what website to believe? What book worth reading? And in all this, wisdom and knowledge has not abounded, but confusion. If Torah teaches us anything it is that this scenario should not be so. Again and again we find that G-d speaks, says and even calls to Moshe and our people to listen to HIM and to Him alone. Some may say of course (as our people did in the wilderness according to the Sages) that Moshe only ever spoke for himself, that it was his voice we heard and not that of our G-d who had brought us out of Egypt. However, the internal testimnoy of the Torah reveals a G-d who not only desires to speak and communicate with us, but has done so, par excellence in the revelation given at Sinai: Torah. It is incumbent upon us as Jews to therefore LISTEN to Him. Why is this so important for our renewal and revival? Because unless we refocus upon our G-d and His acts of redemption for us, listen to His voice alone, we shall not rise up fully to our national call to be a light to the nations. That calling has always been to serve G-d and deliver the message of ethical monotheism to the world.

And what does that mean? In the Torah we were given commandments which, if carried out, would separate us from the ways of the nations around us. The intrinsic, deep seated sense of social justice and relational righteousness sits at the heart of Torah, and when it was given, put clear blue water between us and the nations around us at the time. Today, because of multiple source inputs, people listen to all kinds of philosophies, traditions and various alternative spiritualities to find this sense of justice and righteousness. If we paused for a moment and listened to G-d and examined afresh His revelation to us, we would find His voice, know His voice and obey, finding His righteousness and nothing else.

The words ethical monotheism are meant to be read together. Some want ethics but without the baggage of believing in G-d, some just want to the spirituality of believing in G-d but aren’t so strong on the social and communal obligations of an ethical life. But our calling has been to combine these two words together to be a light. G-d is our source of ethics, the One true G-d of Israel. Without His revelation we would have no ethics, or at least only a man-made copy and invention, an ethics of human expediency.

So we must listen to His voice, the voice of the Good Shepherd, and we have the guarantee that His Spirit will lead us into all truth, if we submit to Him. What we discover as Jews is that the truth sets free, and that must come from our G-d alone. Being set free becomes not only the motif of Pesach but the bedrock of what true ethical monotheism is all about.

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