Monday, July 29, 2013

The Almighty does not accept bribes

I have not posted any articles for a long time now. There are many reasons for this, the biggest reason being that I have been working on writing a book for a while now. There is a lot of research and study that goes into it and it is all very time consuming. Another big reason is that I have been continuing my Hebrew and Torah studies (which is going to be a study until the day I die.)

The reason that I have decided to write an article now is because of what we read in the Torah portion this last Shabbat. The Torah portion that was read is called “Eikev” (Deut 7:12-11:25) and it is so full of information and rich Torah knowledge that I am going to be writing a few articles on this Torah portion.

The verse that stood out, which inspired this article is the following, “For יהוה (YHWH) your Elohim is Elohim of mighty ones and Master of masters, the great Ěl, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe” (Deut 10:17)

There are a few different ways to understand this concept, all of which are perfectly valid and true all at the same time. We are however only going to look at three of these ways below.

Firstly, how many times have you watched a movie, where one of the characters gets into a real tight spot and then cries out to “God” and makes a deal with Him saying that if He gets him out of this tight spot, then he promises to go to church from then on or give money to charity or something like that. Maybe you yourself have made such promises like that as well.

But is that really how the Almighty works? It is true that it is written in the B’rit Chadashah that “For everyone who calls on the Name of יהוה (YHWH) shall be saved.” (Rom 10:13). But does this mean that a sinner who does not follow the instructions of the Almighty, can now just ask the Almighty to get them out of a tight spot with promises that are usually not kept in the end? Well, the Torah (the Word of the Almighty) clearly teaches that this is not the case. The Almighty does not accept bribes in any way or form, especially promises that are empty and ultimately are not kept.

Secondly, as the Jewish commentator “Rashi” puts it, an unrepentant sinner cannot bribe the Almighty by bringing an offering or contribution of charity. Elohim is angered by those who steal or otherwise obtain money dishonestly and then use their ill-gotten profits to bless or serve Him.

As Rashi explains, all your actions and means of funds have to be perfectly legal and moral and done with perfect honesty. Anything not done or acquired so is not at all acceptable and you cannot justify the ends by these means. The Almighty regards this as bribery and does not accept it in any way.

Thirdly, as the Jewish commentator “Ramban” explains, Elohim does not trade off the performance of commandments as a covering for sin (kippur) for transgressions. Rather, He gives reward for the performance of mitzvot and punishment for their transgressions. 

As Ramban explains, the covering of sin is provided for by the Torah and follows a very specific and clear instruction. Just carrying on with performing mitzvot (commandments) without Teshuvah (repentance) and a chatat (sin offering) the keeping of the commandments is then considered a bribe and also trying to save yourself by keeping the law, but to no avail because it is not done out of love for the Almighty. This third way of understanding is much like the first.

So then, what is required from us, well then, the answer is also found in this Torah portion. “And now, Yisra’ĕl, what is יהוה (YHWH) your Elohim asking of you, but to fear יהוה (YHWH) your Elohim, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, and to serve יהוה (YHWH) your Elohim with all your heart and with all your being, to guard the commands of יהוה (YHWH) and His laws which I command you today for your good?” (Deut 10:12-13)

It is inconceivable to think that we can ask the Almighty for any favors unless we are totally committed to loving the Almighty and obeying His Word. The Almighty never changes, and neither does His Word. We are to commit our entire lives to loving the Creator of the heavens and the earth. It is out of love that we keep His Commandments. Anyone who does not keep all the Commandments found in the Torah does not love the Almighty.

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