Finding Morality in a World of Confusion

Every morning I scan the news and shake my head at the breakdown of morality. The world is in a state of confusion and rampant with violence, profanity, sexual harassment, and disrespect for the law.

This downward spiral threatens the moral fiber of civilized society.

In this week’s Torah portion of Vayera (Genesis 18:1–22:24), Abraham provides a solution to the immorality of his time that is applicable today.

Abraham “planted an orchard in Beer-Sheba and proclaimed that God is the master of the universe” (Genesis 21:33). Our sages explain that Abraham’s “orchard” was a place for people to find food, water, and a place to rest.

Abraham used his hospitality as an opportunity to educate his guests that there is one God who provides for their needs. This lesson is alluded to in the Hebrew original (El Olam), which is usually translated as “Master of the Universe.” However, since the prefix (hei - the) is missing, it literally means “Master Universe.”

This grammatical nuance indicates that God and the creation are not two separate entities; rather the universe is dependent on God for its existence.

The secret of living a moral life is to accept that there is one God who instructed us to make the world a better place. The Torah and its commandments are the instruction manual which shows us what is right and wrong and tells us how we should respect the world and humankind.

Contrary to what some religions claim, God’s commandments are not a burden or stumbling block. They are “a tree of life to all who hold on to it” (Proverbs 13:18).

May this Shabbos provide inspiration and opportunities to cling to God through His commandments and at the same time, transform a world of moral confusion into a world of peace and tranquility.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz