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13 Shevat 5783 – With open Eyes

4 February 2023 Shevat 13 5783

With open Eyes

A traveler embarks upon a road that is pocked with gaping holes. Another man stops him and warns: “be careful it is a dangerous road. You could fall into one of those holes and be seriously injured.” “Oh, no problem!” the traveler confidently replies. “You see, I have a handkerchief.””A handkerchief? How is that going to help?”the man inquires. “I”ll put it over my eyes, and that way, I won’t see the holes. You see, if I fall in with my eyes open, people will laugh at me. But if I fall in whith my eyes covered, they will realize that I could’nt help myself because I couldn’t see”.

The traveler us unaware that he will be the object of even worse derision, because as foolish as it may be to fall into a hole, how much more foolish is it to cover one’s eyes.

The Road of Live

We all walk our life paths and along the way we encounter many holes. We can choose to ignore these pitfalls – we close our eyes – or we pay extra close attention to avoid them.

Are all holes easily visible, or are they sometimes covered with branches? Sometimes there are sinkholes that you can only recognize by very small differences in color. Only by paying close attention and knowing how to walk can you continue on your way.

Learning and studying Torah – the 7 Noahide commandments – makes us become observant. What are our personal holes, where do we err, what can we improve.

Alerting others

It is an obligation for every person – unless it is a great danger and the other person(s) might harm him – to endeavor to influence those around him to observe the 7 Noahides laws that they ar obligated in, in a way of friendliness and sociability. One who is able to distance those around him from doing wrong, has an obligation to do so, in order to support the foundation of a moral society that will be as G-d wishes, as the prophet Isaiah says in 45:18:

“The world was not created to be void, but properly settled.”

Leaving People Ignorant?

The Chofetz Chaim acknowledges that there is a principle that favors allowing someone the bliss of his ignorance. This arises when a person would be unable or unwilling to accept the halachah. In that case, one is told to refrain from informing that person so that his sins may remain in the category of the unintentional. (However, when one is dealing with oneself, no such allowance exists).

The consequences for conscious offenses is much greater than for unconscious offenses. A person who commits transgressions by mistake and later realizes that he was mistaken can turn around to G-d, say sorry, clean up the mess and make his life better. Someone who consciously sins deliberately goes against G-d, which greatly damages his relationship with G-d. The person turns away from G-d, with the person’s soul – to put it bluntly – going into exile.

With unconscious transgressions, you as a person may experience “setbacks” in your life that point out your transgression, making it easier to learn to repair them. With conscious transgressions, experiencing G-d’s presence will become increasingly difficult. It is the hope that the lack of G-d in one’s life will cause him to seek G-d again and return to G-d. But the further the soul is removed from G-d the more difficult that way back will become.

The Non-Noahide close Relative

When people come with questions about your faith it often leads to nice open conversations, where you hope it encourages people to think and to want to know more.

Sometimes you point out a particular law to someone – stealing, for example – in the hope that they will learn something. For example, I pointed out to a colleague that she couldn’t just keep a colleague’s glue sticks because the colleague had more of them anyway. When she returned the glue stick and told me that I “had to” because otherwise it was stealing, she was given the other colleague’s glue stick to keep. She came back totally surprised… “so that’s how it works?”… she asked me. And so we had a good conversation.

Sometimes you want so much for your best friend, child, father or any neighbor to understand and most preferably accept this Noahidian way of life. You start a conversation, but soon you find that it generates arguments and misunderstanding. Then the time comes to leave the person in ignorance so that the sins remain unintentional sins. Hoping that someday the person will come to you on their own with questions.

By Angelique Sijbolts

Sources: The Divine Code geschreven door Rabbi Moshe Weiner en Dr. Michael Schulman, 4e editie blz. 99-100 en Loving Kindness by Rabbi Fishel Schachter – teachings of the Chofets Chaim.

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