The sensitive human being gazes at a brilliantly structured universe, a splendid piece of art. He is overwhelmed by the grandeur of a sunset and by the miracle of childbirth; he marvels at the roaring ocean waves and at the silent, steady beat of the human heart. The world is indeed a palace.
But the palace is in flames. The world is full of bloodshed, injustice and strife. Thugs, abusers, rapists, kidnappers and killers are continuously demolishing the palace, turning our world into an ugly tragic battlefield of untold pain and horror.
"And God said to Abraham: 'Go from your land, your birthplace, and your father's house...'" (Genesis12:2) To what may this be compared? To a man who was traveling from place to place when he saw a palace in flames. He wondered: "Is it possible that the palace has no owner?" The owner of the palace looked out and said, "I am the owner of the palace." So Abraham our father said, "Is it possible that the world lacks a ruler?" Go d looked out and said to him, "I am the ruler, the Sovereign of the universe."
"What happened to the owner of the palace?" Abraham cries. Why does God allow man to destroy His world? Why does He permit such a beautiful palace to go up in flames? Could God have made a world only to abandon it? Would anyone build a palace and then desert it?
The Midrash records God's reply: "The owner of the palace looked out and said: 'I am the owner of the palace.' God looked out and said to Abraham: 'I am the ruler, the Sovereign of the universe.'"
What is the meaning of God's response?
Note that the owner of the palace does not make an attempt to get out of the burning building or to extinguish the flames. He is merely stating that He is the owner of the palace that is going up in smoke. It is as if, instead of racing out, the owner were calling for help.
(In our times today we too witnessed a palace going up in flames. Ten years ago we gazed in disbelief at the horror of The World Trade Center uncontrollably going up in flames and burn to the ground. Now today too, London is burning and consumed up in flames as rioters rampage across the city as police struggle to contain a third night of rioting and looting.
God made the palace, man set it on fire, and only man can put out the flames.
Abraham asks God, "Where are you?" God replies, "I am here, where are you?"
Man asks God, "Why did You abandon the world?" God asks man, "Why did you abandon Me?"
Thus began the revolution of true monotheism. Humanity's courageous venture to extinguish the flames of immorality and bloodshed and restore the world to the harmonious and sacred palace it was intended to be. Abraham's encounter with God in the presence of a burning palace gave birth to the mission statement of the moral crusade - to be obsessed with good and horrified by evil.
By forgetting Gods covenant with Noah, we failed to do our part in the protection of the destroyed palace.
For too long, many in society succumbed to the lure of the modern popular notion that there is no such thing as absolute evil behavior. "Thou shall not judge," has become the cherished motto of our times. We have been taught to rather understand the underlying frustrations compelling the aggressor to follow his extreme route.
This "sophisticated" and "open-minded" point of view has allowed many of us to sustain an ethos of boundless tolerance, accepting all forms of behavior as just, since at the core of every mean act lies a crying heart.
Few ideas have been rejected in abiding by the Noahide Laws with so much passion, because the refusal to take a stand against what is wrong, will result in wrong's victory. For example, a non-judgmental view of a suicide bomber may appeal to our sense of compassion and understanding. Yet in reality it assists the "frustrated activists" in their continuous slaughter of innocent victims.
The Noahide Laws, in its impassioned attempt to turn the world into an exquisite palace, created absolute universal standards for good and evil. These standards are defined by the Creator of the universe and are articulated in His manual for human living. Taking the life of an innocent person is evil. No 'if's, 'but's or 'why's. The killer may be badly hurting, but that never justifies the act of murdering an innocent human being.
Have we lost sight of our mission statement crafted by God to Noah on that fateful day thousands of years ago? Terrorists, anarchists and thugs the world over have learned that they can continue their despicable work without serious consequences.
Good people of the world are waiting to be inspired by our four-millennia long heritage of standing up to evil and banishing it from God's palace. [Adapted from YY Jacobson]
In the morning prayer, fire burns fire.
In our default state, we burn with anxiety - the anxieties of survival in a hostile world. When we meditate and pray, we fan a fire of love for that which transcends this world. One fire swallows another and we are set free. Liberated from fear, we face the world no longer as slaves, but as masters.
The perfection in the Divine service lead to the realization of the essential unity in human nature, to the point where the Good Inclination and the Bad Inclination become one, through the transformation of the Bad Inclination by and into the Good Inclination, for otherwise, of course, there can be no unity and harmony, since all that is holy and positive and creative could never make peace and be subservient to the unholy, negative and destructive.
Let us resolve to unite together as a power that will work to cure the poverty, evil, hurt and unjust that exists and bring some sanity and calm to the world. God’s Creation will then truly be complete and will impart meaning and fulfillment to our lives thus resulting in a truly ethical and moral culture and society.
Why would God allow terrible things to happen in the world without intervening to prevent them? The story answers your question, "Could God have made a world only to abandon it?"
The palace represents God's Kingdom. The flames represent the tainted vision of man. The reason God appears unconcerned is because the flames are not real: they appear only in the terrifying dreams of one who has broken God's commandment not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If the man abandons the sinful habit of judging good and evil for himself, and leaves judgement to God (to whom it belongs), the flames will be transformed, and the man will see only the pure, Holy light of God. God assures the man that there is a sovereign ruler, and that ruler is I AM. The palace is not on fire, but because the man has attempted to usurp God's authority, his mind is a raging inferno. [Yehudi Waharam]