Printable version


Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita

When I was a youngster my father bought me a chemistry set. That’s right my parents harboured a dream that they’re only son would one day become that most Jewishy of American dreams, a doctor, and hence their investment in what can only be called a miniature laboratory. The thing had everything needed to blow up any small city, and its long test tubes certainly impressed all who saw them. There must have been about fifty different bottles of stuff, and all kinds of exotic bits and pieces to mix things. With the kit came a big book of “experiments”, you know, chemical things one can do at home. There were pictures and diagrams, temperatures and safety notes, all this and more. The book was a cornucopia of fun things one could create with this new toy. Obviously being a Jewish child, I disregarded all the small print in the directions and only followed what I considered the important words. I was given a space in the basement for my new laboratory and soon set up a suitable table with a chair. My parents looked on with glee, as I started my very first discovery, I’m sure they thought me a budding scientist. Now in those days these home bound chemistry sets were basically meant to inspire youngsters to seek more scientific knowledge in school, instead I believe it made a number of us completely chemistry phobic. This was because if you didn’t follow the directions, you could seriously do damage. I melted a few spoons, dyed my shirt purple, and…what else? Oh yea, burnt a hole in the basement floor. However the greatest fun I had with this kit was the smoke trick. It seems that if you mix certain chemicals together and warm them a bit, they give off huge cloud of smoke. The stuff smells of rotten eggs and it gets all over the place. Wow! To a kid this was like Manna from heaven. I could make this huge smoke thingy and stink up the neighbourhood, both at the same time. Of course what was really happening was due to the chemical interaction of the two chemicals I was mixing. On their own they were ok, but put them together, add a little warmth and BANG! I admit that this little experiment was tried only once, after which my chemistry set seems to have disappeared. I can’t remember ever seeing it again, and all talk of a future Doctor Rubin was almost forgotten (that happened with the incident of the frogs, but that’s a story for another time.)

What this did teach me was something much more pertinent to life. Everything we do has a reaction. When you take a particular decision, it interacts with other facets in your environment and as a result things develop in a certain way. Our lives are like a huge chemistry set, when we mix things together we can discover great potentials, both for good and unfortunately for bad. This is no magic; this is just how the world works.

Hashem created a finely tuned planet, and when we mix things about we must do so thru His directions. Otherwise, stuff can interact in the wrong way and smoke with bad smells is only just the beginning.

Look around you today; see the awful depths into which the world has fallen. In this time of such plenty, we have murder and mayhem. Not only amongst the so called poor, but amidst the materially wealthy as well. There are no borders, no safety places, we have all this affluence and yet suffer from moral anarchy. This is because all the benefits Hashem has bestowed on mankind have been taken with grasping hands with no concern for His Will.

We, the Jewish Nation, must take notice. Because when we are the mixers of the world’s chemicals, we are expected to do what is right. Our mistakes are much more serious because we are the bearers of Hashem’s Torah. We aren’t allowed to act as amateurs, for us the world and its balance is of prime concern.

In Parshas Bechukosai we find the verse: “If you will walk in My statutes and observe My mitzvos to perform them, I shall give you rain in its appropriate time and the Land will give forth its produce.”

Hashem created the world in a finely balanced way, this celestial experiment came with a book of instructions, the Torah. It is the Bnei Yisroel who have been charged with following these instructions and if we fail, or try to disregard the ‘small print’ things can go awry big time. Later in the Parsha we learn in what is called the ‘tochecha,’ which is a dire warning of the natural consequences of our misconduct, that:

‘If you do not listen to Me, and will not perform all these commandments. And if you come to denigrate My decrees, and grow tired of My ordinances, then you will not keep all my commandments, and you will have broken My covenant.’ (26:14-15)

This sever warning, is given over to us so that we understand how vital our actions are to the very viability of our world.

Pirkei Avos chapter 5 Mishna 8 speaks of what can happen when we neglect the Holy balance that Hashem’s creation needs. Notice that much of the material havoc we witness is caused by spiritual neglect. In the Torah there is no real difference, everything is interwoven.

“Seven kinds of punishment come upon the world for seven kinds of transgression. If some tithe and some do not, famine of confusion ensues…..some go hungry and others have plenty…….”

This first cause and effect is spoken of by The Magid of Koznitz Zt”l, he points out a Zohar that tells us that Tithes allude to the fear of Hashem. Thus our Mishna refers to one who sometimes fears Hashem and other times does not. Such a life style causes a break down in the flow of spiritual energy that feeds the world. You may seek to do teshuva, and that will help in regard to your own standing.  However the harm done to the spiritual balance in the atmosphere is now out of kilter. The Rebbe tells us here that those given to lapses in their fear of Hashem can cause confusion in the world order through their hit and miss relationship with Hashem’s Will.

“The sword comes upon the world for the delay of justice, for the perversion of justice and because of those that teach the Torah not in accordance with the Halacha.”

When mankind treats the Torah plan for this world with lackadaisical disdain then the entire edifice upon which we stand becomes enfeebled. When war comes upon mankind, its causes are seldom very clear. There will be talk of differing national agendas, the need for freedom, etc. However, much of the war we have experienced can be traced to the fact that the vast majority of those involved feel a resentment which festers when society sees itself being led by a system that has no regard to Justice. In a society without the truth of Torah there is a gnawing at the heart that serves as a constant irritant. This can be compounded if there are those who teach a Torah diluted with the immorality of the day.

With my little chemistry set I didn’t have to worry too much, at worst, my Father would come and save me, when we play with the different aspects in our lives, we do so at our peril, and with those around us. Only by keeping our connection with our greatest Father, Hashem, can we ever hope to survive.