The Torah of Love

The Torah Of Love

By Rabbi Dr. Michael Schiffman

When people think about the Torah, they think of rituals and commandments; a system of “do’s” and “don’ts.” For them, the Torah is something negative and oppressive, especially in a society that tells us we should do whatever we want, or whatever comes naturally. I have always been fond of a line from the classic film, “African Queen.” Humphrey Bogart makes a romantic play for Katherine Hepburn. She rebuffs him. He says, “Sorry Ma’am, but it’s only natural.” Katherine Hepburn responds, with great indignation and tells him, “Nature … is what we were put in this world to rise above.” There is a lot of truth in that statement. Either we struggle with our inner natures, or we have given up and just follow it with the excuse that it’s just natural. The scriptures teach us we need to rise above our base natures, that everything we want is not necessarily right.

The world view of post-Modernism tells us that there really is no ultimate right or wrong, but that anything can be right or wrong for us in a given situation. The Holy Scriptures teach us that there is right and wrong, and that we need to choose the good and reject what is bad. This does not seem to be an attractive message to people today.  We want to do what we want, and will say whatever comes to mind to justify our actions.  The scriptures refer to this as “tickling” our ears, or in other words, we do what is right in our own eyes.  The problem is, when you do what is right in your own eyes, you can justify anything no matter how bad it may be.  The Nazis murdered millions of innocent people, but it was right in their eyes.  They rejected the standard set by Scripture.  What they had left was evil.

The reason the Torah seems to bring a negative message is not even the Torah itself. It’s the negative and oppressive views people read into it. The Torah teaches good, and offers a life of Godliness. The Torah says, … I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that you may live, you and your seed; to love the LORD your God, to obey his voice, and to cleave to him; for he is your life, and the length of your days;…”   (Deuteronomy 30:19-20

I have observed people say that the Torah was given so Israel would have an impossible standard they could never keep. People say this to dismiss any obligation to do what it says. For them, they are free from God’s instruction and can do whatever they think best. The problem with this view is that it makes our lives subjective. It was the same situation that existed in the days of the Judges, when “everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” (Judges 21:25) Today many believers do what is right in their own eyes. Some try to find a bible verse to justify them selves, but others just claim they heard from God that whatever they want to do is justified. The result is that people are doing everything and anything in the Name of God’s leading. They justify doing some pretty bad things, and it results in God’s Name being profaned because we are his people, and what we do reflects on Him. When we do whatever we want, we are saying the God of the Bible, is not our God, but our own lusts and desires are our God. Why are we shocked then, when God does not bless it?

God gave His Torah for good and for life, and as He invited us to do, we need to choose life. By living the Torah in love, we can transform the world.  In a world that sells its fallen values to our children, the Torah gives us light and life.

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2 thoughts on “The Torah of Love

  1. I’m not so sure I agree that there is any serious contest between today’s people and Torah.

    People today are mostly unaware of and unconcerned with anything in Torah. If it should be called to their attention, they just dismiss Torah. That way, they don’t have to deny or avoid Torah, since it simply doesn’t even exist for them. Unfortunately G-d doesn’t exist for them either.

    We know it is G-d’s will that everyone be saved, BUT some heed the call and some do not. Once a person heeds the call, there can be no more contest. If there does seem to be any contest, then I say the person has not heeded the call, but just pretended to do so. There are many who think they can acknowledge Torah, but select parts of it to be ignored. This is quicksand, because as soon as you select a part of Torah to be ignored, you have pronounced the writer of Torah to also be ignored. You cannot acknowledge part of G-d.

    Just my opinion, but I know it’s G-d’s opinion that actually counts.

  2. Rabbi Dr. Schiffman, please let me thank you for doing what you do.

    I’m a nineteen-year-old Roman Catholic from New England, and when I hear about Messianic Jewish congregations and their rabbis it makes me glad. To know that there are people who do indeed practice today what Yeshua set forth when he walked this Earth brings me great joy.

    I feel that everything happens for a reason, and that we all have our own experiences for a reason too. I feel that different religious assemblies exist naturally and intentionally, and that it is good that such is the case. But with that said, to see that there is a faith that is so close to what Yeshua set forth is very enheartening.

    Your words are inspirational, and I feel that you are a very wise man. I treat you with as much reverence as my own priest.

    Please know that there are young people like myself out there from all walks of life who are inspired by your words.

    May God be with you.

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