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Kislev 18

In those days there was no king in Israel; each man did that which was proper in his own eyes (Judges 21:25).

At first glance, this verse appears to describe a chaotic state of affairs - anarchy itself - where in absence of a central authority everyone did as they pleased.

The Rabbi of Satmar said that this interpretation is incorrect. Everyone has common sense, which can reliably guide him to do right and avoid wrong. He derives his proof from the verse: Do that which is proper and good (Deuteronomy 6:18). How do we know what is proper and good if the Torah does not specify it? It must be that we have an innate common sense.

If so, why does the world seem so unjust? One reason might be that people do not act according to their own common sense, but rather according to what they think others might think of them. If people did what was good in their own eyes, we might have less injustice.

The driving force behind the lusts for power, fame, and wealth - which themselves lead to corrupt behavior - may not necessarily be what people want for themselves as much as their desire to impress others. If we stop behaving according to what we wish others to think, we might give our common sense a fighting chance.

Today I shall...

try to stop impressing others. Instead, I will try to reason for myself what is right and wrong.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

May 21, 2009

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