No-one likes to be under authority. If we are the ones exercising authority, then of course we love it, but no-one likes to be told what to do nor to be accountable to someone more important than them. Anarchy, rebellion and uprising have been part of our human experience since day one and are still part of our lives today (the Syrian civil war, ISIS, or simply just refusing to do what your boss says are examples!!!). But actually, authority in itself is not evil but can be used in a good and right way. The problem is, most of the time evil people pervert authority to suit their own interests.
Despite the bad press that authority gets, it was originally intended to be synonymous with trust and responsibility
Despite the bad press that authority gets, it was originally intended to be synonymous with trust and responsibility. In this week’s parsha, we read how Aaron and his sons were given authority over the rest of the people – to lead and guide them, but also a great responsibility – to represent them before God and to atone for their sins (Vayikra/Leviticus 9). As in so many cases, human nature gets in the way, and two of Aaron’s sons decide to bring their own offering to God, incense, that He had not asked them to bring. Whatever their motive, they made a grave mistake to think that they could just do what they wanted in God’s presence and as a result, they died (see chapter 10). The rest of our people experienced firsthand a tragic case study of what happens when pride comes in and distorts authority.
God is perfect, fair and holy.
What is even more tragic, is that over the course of our history and even today we still continue to rebel against the ultimate authority – God. Whereas human authorities can be flawed, sinful and selfish, God is perfect, fair and holy. When we reject God’s good authority over our lives, we end up on a road to self-destruction, just like Aaron’s sons. Thankfully, despite our rejection of God, He continues to love us and even sent the Messiah, His Son, to die for our rebellion and to rise from the dead, to give us a restored relationship with Him now and eternal life when we physically die. There’s just one catch – we have to be willing to put ourselves under His authority, to admit that He really does know best.
Are you willing to put your life in the hands of the One who originally made it – and live?
Parsha Shmini: “Stick it to the man”