Saturday 4th July 2020 12th Tamuz 5780
PARASHIYOT CHUKAT BALAK
Chukat: Numbers 19:1-22:1; Judges 11:1-33; John 3: 10-21
Balak: Numbers 22:2-25:9; Micah 5:6-6:8; Hebrews 10:5-9, 31-39
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8)
This statement by the Hebrew prophet Micah is one of the most concise and balanced prescriptions for life and living. It is most instructive in times like these when we are faced with concerns over large-scale societal and systemic issues. When held in balance, these three directives equip us to effect positive change. Conversely, the neglect of any one of the three is potentially destructive. Neglect, not overemphasis, because keeping each in mind even to a small extent mitigates against the extremes that emerge when neglecting any one of the others.
The Hebrew word for justice is mishpat. It refers to the bringing about of what is right. The world is full of what needs to be righted. The Hebrew, asah mishpat, instructs us that this is the activity aspect of the triad. Making things right is something we need to purposely work at. To do justice demands being aware of injustice, devising practical strategies to confront it, and finding ways to make it last. That's a heavy task, especially since the forces of injustice are not passive, nor do they play fair.
Once the concern for justice captures our hearts, it can blind us, however, to the other essentials of life. Thus, connecting it with the other two is brilliant. Too often the purveyors of justice leave much damage in their wake, forgetting that while Scripture instructs us to do justice, it is not to overwhelm our affections. Therefore, at the very same time, we must also love kindness.