Friday, August 25, 2006

Parshas Shoftim

Just a quick thought on the Parsha...

The pasuk in this week's parsha (17:8) says, "You shall arise and ascend to the place that Hashem, your G- d, shall choose". Rashi, quoting a Midrash says that the word "ascend" teaches that the Temple was situated higher than all other places. R' Elya Meir Bloch notes that we, of course, know that there are many places in the world that are higher than Har haMoriyah (ie, Mt. Everest). What Rashi, quoting the medrash, is saying is that since the earth is a sphere, any place could theoretically be at the top of the sphere. The medrash is suggesting that because of it's holiness the temple was situated at the very peak of this sphere.

Basically, the medrash is teaching us that even though a place may not be inherently a peak or inherently holy, it has the ability to serve as a peak, depending what we do in it. Because of the Avodah that was done on Har haMoriyah, it was upgraded from being dwarfed by many things, to being the peak of the world. I think we can learn a lot from this lesson.

I think it teaches us that regardless of situation we are in we have the opportunity to upgrade that place to be something greater than it inherently is. Regardless of if you're the only Jew at your office, your high school, or your city, the wrong attitude to have is one that says, "this place is devoid of Judaism and there's nothing I can do." The proper attitude is one of perseverence, one that urges you to push forward, regardless of the inherent value of the place. I know people that have been in certain situations where they would say, "I know there's no way I can do this or that THERE." A person with that attitude is doomed for failure. Our responsibility is to take whatever situation we are in and learn from Har haMoriyah that what really elevates something's status isn't its inherent attributes, but rather, that which we do to elevate it ourselves.

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