March 24, 5780
“Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live; and so the L-RD, the G-d of hosts, will be with you, as ye say.”
– Amos 5:14, JPS 1917 Tanach
If we put our thoughts on hold for a moment, in order to reflect on this verse, what realizations will become apparent to us? I would contend that one way to approach the inherent meaning of this verse, is to acknowledge that most people, including myself, whether or not we would at least acknowledge this for ourselves, are ready, willing, and able to seek good for ourselves. However, is this the type of “good,” that is implied here? What constitutes the good that we are called upon to seek? For surely, the objectives of selfishness are not being spoken about in this verse.
Within context, the previous verses speak of various transgressions committed during the life of Amos. He is calling the people towards righteousness. Most of the sins that he addresses, have to do with selfishness, greed, and lack of consideration for others. Selflessness promotes doing good for others, whereas selfishness causes a distortion in our thinking, wherein we may think that what is individually good for ourselves is the good that G-d condones. If that is the case, then we are only creating Him in our image. As is written, elsewhere, our ways are not His ways.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the L-RD” (Isaiah 55:8). Therefore, we should focus on G-d’s definition of good, while reevaluating our own definition. With the dark storm clouds of the Corona virus, hovering over the globe, we may be called upon to further scrutinize our thoughts, speech and behaviors even more so than we have done in the past. For myself, the gravity of this global plague compels me to think more seriously about life. More than a wake up call, I think that H’Shem is calling for an upgrade in our walk with Him. Our response is required, so that in doing good, especially in these challenging times, He will be with us in the midst of our nisyanos (struggles).