Covenant and Freedom
The United States is often called “Artzot haBrit”, which means the lands of the covenant, so named because of its similarity to the covenant established by God with Israel. The Mosaic covenant or the Torah is the basis for the rule of law for the nation of Israe, and the United States Constitution is the basis for the laws that govern our country. Our beloved Constitution once had a special place in the hearts and minds of Americans just as the Torah did for Israel. And just as the children of Israel often forgot the uniqueness of the Torah and the God who brought it into existence, so too we have seen an eroding of the love for our Constitution and an ignorance surrounding our Founding Fathers.
Unfortunately, Israel continued to violate God’s Torah by worshiping and serving other gods. In so doing, God allowed them to reap the fruit of their disobedience. Consequences came in the form of plagues, famines, pestilence and ultimately exile as God meted out his wrath. We see that our country has also strayed far from its foundation and we are now reaping the whirlwind of chaos and confusion in every area of American life.
The Shema, (Hear O Israel the Lord is God the Lord is One) from Deuteronomy 6, is the most important declaration in the Torah. It is a call to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength. It is a declaration of the sovereignty of God and His kingdom. It is the highest expression of his will, and it speaks of our joyful submission to His laws and commandments. What is especially significant is that the Shema is to remind the individual and the community of their liberation from the bondage of Egypt and the oppression of Pharoah.
The Declaration of Independence is also a declaration of allegiance to the United States and serves to remind us of our liberty from the bondage of an oppressive tyrant (the King of England) and his empire (England). We are called to uphold the sovereignty of this nation and joyfully submit to the rule of law that our Founding Fathers established in the Constitution.
In the Shema Israel was commanded to teach the words of the Torah to their children and not to serve other gods. If they did serve the gods of others they would suffer the consequences and experience the wrath of God. When their children were to ask the meaning of these laws, they were to respond, “We were slaves to Pharoah in Egypt and Adonai brought us up out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm.”
The pattern is the same today. We are to follow the Constitution so that it will go well for civil society. But we have repeatedly declared our founding documents irrelevant, antiquated and changing. So now we are experiencing the fruit of our disobedience. The consequences are materializing and we are once again on our way, if not already there, to being ruled by tyrants.
Let us remember this July 4th that we are citizens of the Kingdom of God and we are citizens of this great country. Let us strive to serve the God of our Fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with our whole heart. And let us return to the principles our Founding Fathers established before it is too late.