There is a war between two clocks in my room. My alarm clock is connected to an atomic clock somewhere that constantly adjusts its time. It has the same time as my cell phone, which also claims to be super-accurate. I also have an original fake $50,000 watch straight from Chinatown with the months listed out of order. The watch never has the same time as my atomic alarm clock, but it is actually much more beautiful than the latter. Which one shall I trust?
The entire world chose to follow the inaccurate heroic description of Socrates offered by Plato and to ignore the far more accurate portrayal by Aeschines. We have chosen to remember Socrates as the merciless interrogator, committed to nothing but the truth, and determined, by means of incisive argument, to lay his own and our moral lives on a foundation of knowledge rather than opinion; a specialist in moral philosophy and moral psychology; a man of immense moral integrity, who was unjustly put to death. We ignore Aeschines’ accusations that the great Socrates was actually an avid supporter of the Thirty Tyrants who were attempting to change Athens into a Spartan-style society. History has taught us to trust my fake-original Chinatown watch rather than my atomic clock.
How do we decide whom to trust? How do we choose our teachers and guides? We have so much difficulty trusting ourselves, our insights and experiences, how can we so easily trust others?
I know that we can only decide whom to trust if we care enough to find the truth. It is only the searcher after truth that will have sufficient lucidity to determine who is trustworthy. The act of searching will provide the necessary clarity.
This week’s portion speaks of Israel learning to trust Moshe as never before, “And also in you they will believe forever.” They have to learn to trust the judges after forfeiting the opportunity to deal directly with Moshe. Most importantly, they have to learn to trust themselves after rejecting a direct relationship with God.
The theme of trust continues in the Haftara as Isaiah speaks of The Seeds of Light we can use in our search. Aharon and Donna Perel sponsored the essay in memory of Rabbi Noach Weinberg zt”l, who planted seeds of light wherever he went.
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