Dvar Torah Parshat VaEtchanan 5772 2012

Many people believe in order to be a pious soul one must isolate oneself from society and go to some forsaken place where they can live without the temptations of the mundane world. They believe that when you come in contact with other people they have a nature to corrupt you and to lead you astray from living a virtuous life.

This is far from the Jewish belief. When Moshe instructs Bnei Yisrael to live up to the Mitzvot of the Torah he says to them, “ I have taught you decrees and ordinances as Hashem…has commanded me…”, לַעֲשׂוֹת כֵּן בְּקֶרֶב הָאָרֶץ, “…to do so in the midst of the land…”. (Deut. 4,5)

Moshe is telling the people that they do not need to go away and separate themselves from society in order to live up to the dictates of the Torah. The Torah was given to teach a way of life that will help people be devout and live morally among others. No need to isolate oneself. No need to disassociate from people. On the contrary, the Torah teaches how to live ethically and decently with others.

We saw this attitude exhibited by Avraham Avinu. He did not hide in his tent or go to some distant land where he could practice his religious beliefs in peace. We are told he sat at the entrance to his tent and waited for visitors to come. He did not fear that he would be affected by them but rather felt he could influence them.

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