Posts Tagged ‘right and wrong’

In a sermon entitled, “Where are you, Adam?”, by Rabbi Marc Gellman (published in First Things), among the many cogent Torah-centered observations he preaches, this is one of many that stands out:

In The Altruistic Personality, their book about Christians who saved Jews during the Holocaust, Samuel and Pearl Oliner asked what distinguished the rescuers from the majority who did nothing, or were complicit. Their conclusion was that they were not distinguished by educational level or by political views or even by attitudes towards Jews. They were, however, different in two critical respects: they were strongly connected to communities that had straightforward and unsophisticated understandings of right and wrong, and they had a powerful sense of moral agency and shame. They said over and over again in interviews that they could not have lived with themselves—and many said they could not have answered before God—if they had not done what they had done. The righteous gentiles of the Holocaust came from communities and families that had prepared the way for their courage by teaching them how to feel shame and therefore virtue and courage. In this country those same institutions are often preparing the way for moral relativism and cowardice by teaching that nobody really knows what is right and what is wrong, so what the hell.

Jesus taught about children being brought to Him and His erstwhile disciples who were preventing parents from bringing  the children to Him, “Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (St. Matthew 19: 14)  Why do children get it, that is Jesus? Children know right from wrong.  It’s that simple.  They know goodness and evil. The families coming to Christ in His reign knew this.  The good fairy tales and children’s stories are filled with this moral clarity.  Children are ashamed when they are caught.  Their understanding is wonderfully unsophisticated.  Rabbi Gellman’s citation is most illuminating.   It was not the academic elites who resisted Nazism and their treatment of the Jews but those who knew right from wrong.  Many were Christians who are derided in our day and time as “fundies”, or cultural neanderthals and the like.  A  good documentary on one village of 5,000 Huguenots in France who saved the lives of 5,000 Jews is Weapons of the Spirit by a man who was saved at birth in Le Chambon, Pierre Sauvage.  Why did those villagers risk so much?  Their answer:  we had too.  Why?

Your Word is a lamp to my feet
   and a light to my path. Psalm 119:  105

His Word is quite clear and lights our path.

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. (St. Matthew 11)

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