Ethic and Justice
Ethic and JusticeDPK Public Relations

In these turbulent times, we must rise up to a higher vision to understand toay’s events. In the song sung by Moses at the Sea it says, “Your right hand, O Lord, is awesome in power. Your right hand, O Lord, crushes the foe” (Exodus 15:6). Rashi comments, “It says ‘Your right hand’ twice. When Israel perform God’s will, left becomes right.”

How can “left” become “right?” “Right” and “left” symbolize, respectively, God’s traits of kindness and strict justice. When Israel perform God’s will, they are exalted and they merit to see how the trait of kindness is hidden within the trait of strict justice and how kindness is the soul of strict justice, such that strict justice, the “left,” automatically becomes kindness, the “right.”

Indeed, “the deeds of the Mighty One are perfect, for all His ways are just. He is a faithful God, never unfair; righteous and moral is He” (Deuteronomy 32:4). We must try to ascend and reach this exalted perspective, to understand that even all of the complications and difficulties of our age conceal within them the trait of kindness.

Even when God conducts Himself towards us with strict justice, concealing His countenance from us, His intention, desire and purpose is to show us benevolence, for “the Lord is good to all; and His tender mercies are over all His works” (Psalms 145:9). This is especially so regarding the Jewish People, God’s beloved children.

In Egypt, God conducted Himself towards the Children of Israel with strict justice, with the Egyptians pursuing and persecuting them. Then, at the splitting of the sea, Israel saw clearly how strict justice could be transformed into kindness: “Pharaoh’s chariots and army He cast in the sea. His very best officers were drowned in the Sea of Reeds. . . . You made Your wind blow; the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters” (Exodus 15:4, 10). Our sages comment, “The mighty enemies and obstacles that had seemed so unbeatable sank like lead, as if they had never existed.”

At the splitting of the sea, God’s strict justice was transformed to kindness, that is, left was transformed to right. The Jewish People merited “the revelation of the sparkling primal light of the World of Divine Unity, where all is one and no evil abounds” (HaRav Kook, Orot HaTeshuvah 12:5).

This principle can also be applied to understand the mitzvah of obeying the verdicts of the Great Rabbinical Court and not rebelling against its words. “You must keep the Torah as they interpret it for you, and follow the laws that they legislate for you. Do not stray to the right or left from the word that theydeclare to you” (Deuteronomy 17:11). [Note that we are speaking about the Great Rabbinical Court of old and not the Israel Supreme Court of today.]

Rashi comments, “Even if they say to you that right is left or that left is right, but certainly if they tell you that right is right and that left is left.” In other words, if the Sages tell you that what seems to you to be Divine kindness is really strict justice, and what seems to you to be strict justice is really kindness, you must heed them, for their perceptions and vision are profound, penetrating further than a superficial glance bereft of wisdom and understanding.

When approaching the political and social divide in modern Israel, we see how the community is split into right and left – yet that too is clearly on a superficial level, viewed from the outside. Whoever takes a deeper look to understand the entire marvelous process of the generation of rebirth, of the ingathering of the exiles, and the beginning of the raising of Israel’s stature in their land, can understand that when “left” seemingly has the upper hand, when strict justice holds sway and God’s countenance is concealed, within these very traits, and from their very midst emerges “right”, kindness and goodness to Israel and to the entire world.

Each day when we recite the eternal Song of the Sea, and especially on the Seventh Day of Passover, the day the sea was split, we must appreciate how everything is turning out for the best – the mighty obstacles blocking our path can, with God’s help, disappear in a moment, while strict justice and God’s hiding His countenance from us conceal within them His kindness and benevolence. The day is not far off when God will show us miracles like the time when we left Egypt. Then, all the earth’s inhabitants will recognize and know that the God of Israel is King, and His sovereignty rules over all. “Then Moses and Israel [will] sing this song” – the song of faith and thanks that Israel sings in every generation, and in the future.

How fortunate we are and how good our lot that we are privileged to see the beginning of the fulfillment of the song, the Shira, which states, “O bring them and plant them on the mount You possess. The place You dwell in is Your accomplishment, God. The shrine of God Your Hands have founded. God will reign forever and ever” (Exodus 15:17–18).

Rashi comments, “The Temple will be built with two hands. And when will that occur? When God reigns forever and ever – in the future when all kingship is his. How fortunate we are, how good our portion, that we are privileged to belong to the nation who proclaim God’s Oneness. They are “believers and the sons of believers” (Shabbat 97a) that “the Lord is good to all; and His tender mercies are over all His works” (Psalms 145:9).

Happy Pesach!

Rabbi Dov Begun is founding head of Machon Meir Yeshiva, the Religious Zionist kiruv yeshiva. More Torah essays by HaRav Dov Begon can be found on the new Machon Meir Torat Eretz Yisrael Digital Library:

Sent to Arutz Sheva by Tzvi Fishman