Acharei Mot / Kedoshim
Leviticus/ Va-Yikra 16:1 - 20:27
For the week of May 9, 1998
13 Iyar 5758
Protect Your Neighbour
Do not do anything that endangers your neighbour's
God called Israel to be an unselfish nation. The above command calls Israel to live life with a focus, not on self, but on others. Our lives affect others, and we need to be aware of that. We are not to live for ourselves.
I need to see my life in relationship to the rest of society. I need to scrutinize what I do, and what I don't do, what I say and what I don't say. All this affects those around me.
The basis of this way of life is clearly stated: I am the LORD. A society that forgets or neglects God eventually degenerates. When we loose sight of God, we see only ourselves and our own needs and desires.
It is only when we know God that we can the put the well being of others ahead of our own. When we know God, we know we have to answer to him. Otherwise we are left to ourselves to figure life out. Further, if we know God, then we know he loves us and takes care of us. Therefore we don't have to be focused on ourselves. We are free to think and care about others.
But how far are we to take this? We tend to think that unless an action directly and immediately affects another person, then what happens to them is not our responsibility. But is that really true? Let's look at a few areas of life that we need to think about.
What we say has power to bring either hurt or healing. We all know the destructive nature of gossip, for example. While what we say about someone today may not have any immediate effect on them, in time those words can do all sorts of damage.
What we do behind closed doors has a far reaching effect upon many others not directly involved at the moment. A single act of impropriety can ruin countless relationships and lives.
Many of our environmental problems are the result of a slow process of continual abuse of our planet. We have a responsibility to see that what we are doing today will affect the quality of life of future generations.
It is not just what we do that has the potential to endanger others, but also what we don't do. We have a responsibility to do whatever it takes to protect lives.
The Messiah fulfilled this commandment. He paid the ultimate personal price to keep us from endangerment. He gave up his life, so that we would not have to face eternal punishment. Should we not then follow his example, and do whatever we can to ensure the well being of others?