By: William J. Jackson
Leaving my former religion, I was disappointed by the response of arrogance and bitterness. As concerned as they were for me (or my soul), nobody ever invite me to calmly sit down and discuss scripture over the matter. Their “self-righteousness” challenged even their own doctrine (Matthew 22:36-40, Mark 12:31, 1 John 4:20-21). At the end of one of these engagements, one particular Pastor threw what I call the “holy hand grenade”. That’s when someone comes to your FB page, vomit all sorts of threats, and ugly talk, to publicly show up on your page, then they end it with a “G-d Bless You!” or even better “I hope G-d forgives you” to only deleting themselves from your FB page altogether. It’s a disingenuous way of leaving a passionate conversation feigning responsibility to ones religion. The irony of moving to a more Torah centric understanding of HaShem is that I thought I would be around more like minded people. Yet, I still find those that perform lashon hara under the guise of this new faith walk.
HaShem over Religion:
I often wonder if we took away the religion and just kept YHVH’s word (Tanakh), could people just have an unrestricted relationship with our Maker? I almost think within a week people would start to create additional books (doctrines) to add to the Tanakh and seek out leaders to follow. I really can understand what Moses was up against. Even though YHVH’s wanted a direct relationship with His people (Deuteronomy 5:19-21), the people were too afraid, so they voluntold a leader to represent them (Exodus 20:16, Deuteronomy 5:22-24). Something important to note here is that a true representative of HaShem only speaks HaShem’s words and not his ideas. If we look beyond this incident at Sinai we see other places throughout Tanakh where great men spoke Hashem’s word to His people straight from scripture; Moses (Deuteronomy 31:11), Joshua (Joshua 8:34), Ezra (Nehemiah 8)…etc. Even Moses stated the leaders where to read Torah every day (Deuteronomy 17:19). Yet somewhere people decided they need to put other people and doctrine between us and the Master.
Those who try to stifle HaShem with their own version of righteousness:
The Torah is marked by events where other people try to engineer and enforce their own concepts of what Hashem wanted, instead of just turning to Him. Just remember the rebellion while the Israelites were in the desert. That’s when Korach with 250 respectable men decided that they were worthy enough to take over the leadership of the Israelites. All 250 meet a fiery demise for this decision (Numbers 16). Then, of course, we have King Saul who confused his acceptance by the people over the will of YHVH(1 Samuel 15). This was meet with his death, a death where he took his own life (1 Samuel 31:4). And then we have the Kings of Israel and Judah, 3 out of 4 misled the people doing evil before HaShem (1). This is all evidence that we are not to blindly follow leaders and that we are to seek the truth in His word.
Lashon Hara by any other name is still Lashon Hara:
The true mark of a slanderer is someone unwillingness to communicate with the person in question and their willingness to communicate their suspensions to others. Many people have established themselves as “self-appointed” watchmen. This is only pious polish on a sinful nature. One needs to ask themselves are these people confronting the issue or cultivating the problem. Just remember, when there is confrontation, is it done from purely Tanakh, or are other concepts and opinions being brought into win a fight? Basically; is there open dialog and pure scripture? Another earmark of those that fix blame instead of fixing the problem, they are the ones that enjoy doing battle in a public forum (gladiator style), instead of being effective in a private one on one conversation. I have even meet others that have validated doing lashon hara on a person; because that person has performed lashon hara on them. Where does it stop? Who is willing to please the Master by acting right instead trying to be right?
Just remember, sometimes emotions betray us. A simple guide post to keeps us on track is that HaShem commands us to be humble (Leviticus 19:18, Psalm 25:9, 149:4, Micah 6:8), and forbids us to be arrogant (1 Samuel 2:3; Isaiah 2:12, Psalm 31:19; Psalm 94:4, Psalm 75:6, 101:5, Proverbs 16:19). One should also note; to have true humility is not to be passive, it means work, work to find an affective ways to be heard by the other person.
“The relationship to God is built on recognition of one’s own human qualities, failures, foibles and successes. A realistic self-evaluation will always occasion a feeling of humility and subservience to the Divine.” (2)