לא יכהה ולא ירוץ עד־ישׂים בארץ משׁפט ולתורתו איים ייחילו׃
He will bring forth justice according to truth; he will not weaken or be crushed until he has established justice on the earth, and the coastlands wait for his Torah."
THE CRY OF THE WORLD
In every nation, there is a cry for justice. There is a cry for racial, economic, and social justice. It feels that the world is tired of doing things as usual. Just like what happened in first-century Israel, modern-day zealots in several modern countries are taking things into their own hands and are threatening to unravel the very fabric of society as we know it. How will it end? In Israel, that type of revolt from the fundamentalist zealots ended in their internal infighting, which gave the Romans freedom to burn the Temple, ransack Jerusalem, and shut down of the country for 2000 years.
Forty years before these fatal events, an itinerant rabbi from Nazareth heard the cries of his people for justice and taught them a different sort of response to the injustices of His days. He proclaimed to them, "How blessed are the poor in spirit! for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs."
- To those who were mourning the death of loved ones either due to sickness, to war, or to Roman oppression, He said, "How blessed are those who mourn! for they will be comforted."
- To those who felt that they no had place in a society that demeaned and ignored them, He said: "How blessed are the meek! for they will inherit the Land!"
- To those who hungered and thirsted for social and economic justice he said: "How blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness! for they will be filled."
- To those who were so distraught by their social and economic conditions and could only cope by hardening their hearts in desire for revenge, though HaShem forbade it, He said: "How blessed are those who show mercy! for they will be shown mercy."
- For those whose heart became soiled by anger and hatred due to their unjust social and economic conditions, He said: "How blessed are the pure in heart! for they will see God."
- And for those who see no other way of seeing a just and fair world but by violence and conflict, He said: "How blessed are those who make peace! for they will be called sons of God." (Mat 5:3-9)
UTOPIAN IDEALISM, CYNICISM, OR BELIEF?
Some do believe that changes in society only come through conflict or violence; that one must be willing to forget scruples and ethics in order to accomplish the right; that the end justifies the means. "Might Makes Right" seems to be the moto of the day but as a student of American History I remember the words of Abraham Lincoln who said, "Right Makes Might!"
One who reads what I just wrote may instead take a cynical view of the world and think that I am just a hopeless idealist. Am I?
Someone asked me one day if I believed in Heaven. I said that I did, so next, they asked why. I answered that I believe in Heaven because I believe in justice ordered by a just God. Too many issues in this world, either in personal lives or in the twists of History, are left unresolved. We cannot claim that God is a just God as long as these issues remain unresolved. As we see happening now, the world seems to yearn for a time when old issues and conflicts are brought to the tabl in front of the Judge of the Universe. We need a time when right is rewarded and wrong retributed. Only in the resolution of all issues will we find the universal peace we all desire, and only HaShem can do that.
The aftara this week broaches on this subject. Both Sephardic and Ashkenazi aftarot start at Isaiah 42:5, a text that follows an introduction at the beginning of the chapter. Adding this introduction to the reading makes for a perfect messianic aftara. That introduction proclaims: "Here is my servant, whom I support, my chosen one, in whom I take pleasure."
This servant will eventually be characterized in the 53rd chapter of the Book of Isaiah. Today, traditional Judaism refers to "the Servant" as Israel, an interpretation that started in post-Yeshua times, but in the first century CE, it was known by Jewish teachers as a prophecy concerning the Messiah of Israel (Acts 3:18;1 pet 2:19-25): "I have put my Spirit on him"
HaShem puts His Spirit on His Servant to deliver His people from injustice just as He put His Spirit on Moshe to deliver His people from injustice:
- "He will bring justice to the Goyim." The servant brings justice not just for Israel, but to the nations as well.
- "He will not cry or shout;" He will not use a megaphone. He will not yell slogans nor scream profanities.
- "No one will hear his voice in the streets." The sound of Silence (Simon and Garfunkel. Very deep song!):
- "He will not snap off a broken reed or snuff out a smoldering wick." The justice of this Servant cares for and is gentle with the poor, the weak, the displaced, the handicap, the stranger...:
- "He will bring forth justice according to truth" Truth according to Torah, not according to man who calls good evil and evil good.
- "He will not weaken or be crushed until he has established justice on the earth, and the coastlands wait for his Torah." (Isa 42:1-4)
So I believe that all is in HaShem's very able hands. Can I be accused of being a hopeless idealist just because I believe in the Word of God?
Who knows that if they would have lived according to these words instead of letting themselves be taken over by the violent ethic-less and scruple-less zealots, things could have been different.