Talmud Tips

For the week ending 1 September 2018 / 21 Elul 5778

Becoming a Star

by Rabbi Yitzchak Botton
ArtscrollLibrary

Today, English has become the universal language. And America, in many ways, influences the social climate around the globe. What is so special about America? If asked about America’s greatest contribution to the world today, what would the answer be? If I were answering, I would say: America’s greatest production is sports and entertainment. Playing games and make-believe is what America has to offer to the world.

What does one get when he reaches the top of the entertainment ladder? He becomes a star. And that is exactly what he gets: a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This is the reward for all the hard labor that goes into becoming a movie star. When he dies, people will walk on his star for years to come.

The Torah teaches us how to become a real star, how to light up this dark world with the light of truth.

Emulating G-d

Knowing the essence of human nature, G-d commanded the Jewish nation to abandon the empty and vain pursuits of today’s culture and instead grab onto a piece of eternity. The Torah commands us to walk in His ways (Parshat Ki Tavo, Devarim 28:9). The Midrash (Sifri Ekev 11:22) explains: Just as the Holy One, blessed be He, is compassionate, so should you be compassionate. Just as the Holy One, blessed be He, is righteous, so should you be righteous. Just as the Holy One, blessed be He, is holy, so should you be holy.

The Sefer Chinuch explains that we are commanded to ensure that all our deeds be good and upright. Legal justifications based on loopholes in civil law do not justify taking what is not rightfully ours. Instead, we must compel ourselves to deal with others with kindness and mercy, according to the instructions of the Torah. This is what G-d wants from us.

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