Based upon the juxtaposition in this week’s Parsha of Sota and Nazir, the Gemara (Sota 2a) instructs us that one who observes the degradation of the Isha Sota, the unfaithful woman, should respond by taking on the status of a Nazir, one who refrains from the permissible, for a set period of time. Being a Nazir (not applicable in our generation) is not something the Torah approves of under normal circumstances. We are expected to enjoy the pleasures with which Hashem has blessed our world, albeit with moderation and within the proper context of time and circumstance. A life of asceticism is not the Jewish way.
What lesson can we glean from this notion of taking on extra precautions as a result of an experience we have gone through? If becoming a Nazir is not an option, do we retain some message from this Gemara that applies in our times?It would seem that the obvious answer is a resounding YES! The challenge and greatness of our generation is raising children loyal to Torah despite (over) exposure to the most lurid, seductive images, language and behavior imaginable. We are subject to trials the likes of which were not in the wildest dreams (nightmares(!)) of our Torah leaders of 50 years ago.
We try our best to protect ourselves and our children, but we do live in this world. Perhaps the lesson of this week’s Parsha is to recognize that we live in extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures. The Satmar Rav ztvk’l is quoted as saying that the adage about children turning out to be very similar to the parents, that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” doesn’t apply when there is a hurricane outside, and today there is a hurricane!
We should all contemplate our situation and protect ourselves and our children from exposure to immodesty as best we can. In addition we should think of extra measures we can take to reinforce the Kedusha, sanctity, in our homes and our lives. Perhaps there are material excesses of a different nature that can be curtailed. Shabbos is a time of Oneg – pleasure and delight, but can we manage without the finest Single Malt whiskey? When choosing a car, do we stretch our finances beyond reasonable, when something more affordable would do just fine? In determining appropriate dress – do we follow the standards set in Paris or the standards set by Halacha?
If we are not convinced that there is a need to moderate our lifestyle choices for ourselves, we should nevertheless consider the impact upon our children. Is the legacy we want to pass on to them that of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ or one of enjoying life as a means to the end of serving Hashem? Are we really helping our children grow up as happy individuals when our actions proclaim that without lots of `stuff’ one cannot be truly happy?
Our reactions to the societal morés and improprieties around us should be fashioned in the manner of this week’s Parsha. We cannot let the bad behavior of our fellow citizens of the world pass without reaction. We may not be able to save the world, our country, our neighborhood or even our neighbor. We will, however, be taken to task if we don’t take appropriate measures to save ourselves and our children.
Have a meaningful and enjoyable Shabbos,
Rabbi Kalman BaumannPrincipal