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Ben Franklin & The Constitution

Wednesday, 19 January, 2011 - 11:43 am

Imagine if we had Benjamin Franklin, a founder of the Constitution to help us interpret it.

Imagine if we had Moses here to answer our questions about the Torah's meaning.

Some would say that would be amazing, others would say that it would be terrible.

Think of it like this. If Ben Franklin was here, he wouldn’t be able to understand the Constitution as it is reflected in the current climate. But he would be able to express “the spirit manifested in the debates”.

This was the subject of a deep discussion between Moses and his father-in-law. From the time of the Jews' exodus until this week's Torah portion, Moses was doing everything himself, from teaching, to judging. His father-in-law arrived and told Moshe that he was doing much more than one person could accomplish  .

The explanation was that because the people realized that Moses knows the answers and sees the issues on a deeper level, they relied on him totally. There had to be a way to bring answers to the whole people on all levels and at all times, even down to the mundane and basic. So Yisro guided his son-in-law, Moses, to bring the system of Torah guidance into a practical hierarchy for answering the questions people would have for all the generations. Moses set up a system in which the Torah, which is “the Eternal guidebook” can be accessed.  It is always possible for anyone to ask (according to the hierarchy that Moses put into place), and therefore to understand how the wisdom of the Torah applies to him in his particular situation.

Because of Yisro’s advice, Moses implemented a system by appointing captains of thousands, captains of hundreds, captains of fifties and captains of tens. With that system in place, all the people would know where to go when they needed guidance. If their superior needed guidance he would go to his “leader.” In this way, the Torah would accomplish its purpose, to descend  to the furthest reaches of our physical world where materialism and evil abound and to transform it to become G-dly.

Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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