The majority of this week’s reading is devoted to G-d’s warning of severe curses that will come upon the Jewish nation, if it acts with disregard for the laws of the Torah. As these curses come from a loving G-d, they stem from a place of love, and are a warning intended to spur change. About this King Solomon wrote “The discipline of G-d, my son, do not detest, and do not loathe His reproach. For whom G-d loves, He reproaches, and as a father to a son, He will conciliate (Proverbs 3:11-12).”
As the reading turns to a second, new round of more severe curses, those words are preceded with words of guidance: “And if as a result of these [curses] you will will not turn to Me, and you proceed with your lawlessness, I too will proceed with lawlessness…” It’s puzzling that this verse expresses G-d’s absolute justice as “lawlessness,” though it comes in response to Israel’s similar behavior — lawlessness for lawlessness. How could lawlessness, a lack of justice, be considered justice?
The regular protection of G-d is a blessing we often overlook, and that is what this verse intends to remind us about. If G-d removes His protection, the consequence is that we are left abandoned in a lawless world, where the elements of nature and man immediately endanger us. We are ordinarily under G-d’s constant protection, insuring that our bodies function properly, and that we are safe from the dangers of our environment. The moment that protection is removed, we are vulnerable. (Based on the teachings of HaRav Yaakov Weinberg zt”l).
The modern world comes with many freedoms, for which we are grateful. However, what we see is that when freedom becomes the ultimate value, people demand to be free of even the most sensible restrictions on their personal liberty.
This is the challenge our world faces at this moment. We can’t ignore the effect it has on our personal attitudes, especially our spiritual life. When society throws off the restraints of civilization, we have to strengthen and embrace G-d’s guiding laws. When governments drop their restrictions, lives are endangered by the environment of lawlessness. To merit G-d’s protection from this loss of control, we need to embrace the controls G-d has blessed us with.