We have become used to thinking of the diaspora as a place of danger; Israel of safety. The fact the biggest murder of Jews in one day since the Holocaust took place in Israel is simply unfathomable. The question is inevitable: Where was God? A strange Midrash on this week’s parashah may hint at an answer.
In Part 1 we discussed the issue of human autonomy versus divine commandment. Which is of higher religious value: serving God in a spontaneous outpouring of religious devotion, or obeying the divine imperative? We concluded that it is the divine imperative that makes an ordinary act into a religious one. In the words of Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz: “Faith is expressed in the act which man does due to his awareness of his obligation to do it and not because of an internal urge”.
One of the most discussed issues in today’s world of religious thought is the question of human autonomy versus man’s obligation to carry out God’s command. Which is the higher religious value: to serve God in a spontaneous outpouring of religious devotion (autonomy), or to obey the divine imperative (obedience)?