Va-Year
For the week of November 18, 2000 / 20 Heshvan 5761
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 18:1 - 22:24
Haftarah: 2 Kings 4:1-37

It Just Takes a Few

For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it
(Bereshit / Genesis 18:32).

It is not the presence of bad people that ruins a society but the lack of good people. If the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is a model of the effect of moral demise upon a society, then we neednít be worried about the great evils we see around us. What should concern us is how few righteous ones there are.

When God told Abraham that he was going to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham asked him to reconsider. His interaction with God was like a bargaining session. Each time as God agreed not to destroy the cities if a certain number of righteous ones lived there, Abraham asked God on behalf of a lesser number. In the end God said that he would not destroy the place if there were at least ten righteous there.

But sadly there were not even ten, so God utterly destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.

This shows us how God regards the presence of the righteous. Somehow they are the preservatives of a society, providing protection from the judgement of God.

But what does it mean to be righteous? If the presence of righteousness makes so much difference in a society, we would do well to know what it is. Many people think that righteousness is based on good morality, so that those who do good deeds are righteous. Others say it is a matter of faith only. Recognizing that none of us is morally perfect in ourselves, they say that it is only through our trusting God that we can be right with him.

Actually being righteous is both. In order to be in a right relationship with God, we need to first believe in him. God is not an impersonal force that simply reacts to a set of predetermined principles of life. He is a living being who is seeking true relationships with his human creatures.

If someone has such a relationship with God, then that personís way of living will reflect that relationship. Therefore those who are right with God, live rightly.

This past week commemorates Kristallnacht, the Nazi-instigated riot that marked the "official" beginning of the Holocaust on November 9, 1938. So many have asked the question, "Where was God during those dark years?" But a better question may be "Where were the righteous?" So many people in the societies of that day would have professed faith in God, but how many actually lived out the faith they claimed to have?

I donít know how many righteous it would take to make a difference in our own society today. But regardless of that number, our welfare is more based on the righteousness of the righteous than on the wickedness of the wicked. So instead of being discouraged about how bad things are around us, let us seek to live the lives God desires us to live. You might just make all the difference.

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