You have just arrived in a strange city and you’re hungry. Spotting a restaurant over the street, you enter and gratefully, sit down. The waitress soon comes because no other table in the restaurant is occupied; you have the place to yourself. Glancing at the menu you place your order, but the waitress irritably informs you that they’re out of your choice. Turns out they are out of your next three choices too. You settle for whatever they have, and it arrives cold and tasteless. You don’t have to be a hospitality guru to know that this restaurant is ripe for takeover by new management.
There are similar and equally reliable indicators that a society, culture, or nation is ripe for takeover by new management.
One profoundly unsettling sign is when policing fails. When law enforcement cowers in fear from criminals but inflicts its full fierceness against law-abiding citizens over relatively minor infractions, the barbarians are no longer at the gate; they’re inside!
During the summer of 2020, we watched rabid mobs rioting, looting, and burning American cities. As frightening as that was, it was far more sinister to see uniformed officers standing by as passive observers of the mayhem. Yet, at exactly the same time, armed SWAT teams descended on beachgoers and families relaxing in parks, harassing them and rousting them out of these peaceful refuges in the name of lockdown.
We saw armed policemen standing aside and ignoring the menacing and brazen robbers who emptied stores and threatened shoppers. We also saw similarly equipped officers of the law courageously invade church sanctuaries, shut down religious services, and cart off church officials in handcuffs for holding prayer gatherings during covid.
In the past few weeks, we saw those whom society trusts and empowers to use force for the purpose of maintaining public peace, oblivious to large, violent Palestinian crowds comprising many wearing face-concealing masks in violation of law as they disrupted and imperiled life, but then diligently arrested people carrying signs deemed to be “Islamophobic”.
Meanwhile, we see tolerant and ongoing indulgence of those who make travel on the New York subway system frightening and dangerous, but ferocious vigilance against those who have little recourse but to defend themselves and others. Failing to arrest and prosecute an armed robber, but furious prosecution of the bodega owner who defended himself against robbery and assault with a knife.
The list goes on and on.
Why do I say that this is a symptom of impending cultural extinction? Because the very same book that teaches me that restaurants that don’t delight their diners will go out of business teaches me that societies that do not enforce justice are not long for this world. Yes, the Bible teaches that business and commerce are God’s way of incentivizing us to be obsessively preoccupied with His other children’s needs and desires. The Bible also teaches that it is not enough to install justice and speak of it constantly. No, the means of enforcing justice must also be installed if you wish for any societal durability.
Judges and policemen you shall place in all of your gates…
The King James translates it as follows:
Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates…
Correct on judges, but too unassertive with “officers.” After all, a magistrate is an “officer” of the law, but he is no burly armed policeman. And Deuteronomy 16:18 is really very clear on “policeman”.
The Hebrew word is SH-T-R* and clearly means someone with the physical means and the communal authority to exert power and enforce the rulings of justice.
What is more, in many Hebrew words, the first and last letters of the typical three-letter root of the word carry the essence of the meaning and impart the penumbra of that meaning to any word formed by inserting another letter between the first and last letters.
For instance, the word formed by the first and last letter of the Hebrew for policeman, is SH-R. In Hebrew the letter SH is the same letter as S, so SH-R becomes S-R which means commanding officer in an army. (It is also the etymological source of the English Sir, Sire, and the Russian Czar and Roman Caesar. You will hear the S-R sound in them all.
Substituting other Hebrew letters between the SH/S and R give us gate (keeps you out), shatter, ox (symbol of power), dawn (overpowering the darkness) guard, lie, and of course policeman.**
There is no doubt about it, a justice system that does not enforce its rulings is no justice system. And without a justice system, any group of people will cease to be a unified people.
That doomed restaurant I described above might be closed with dire consequences for the people who earn their living working in that establishment. Alternatively, it might be taken over by a large national chain of restaurants. In this case, it will no longer resemble the restaurant it once was. When it reopens as yet another branch of the “Carrot Glen” chain of family restaurants it will no longer suit the old-time customers who used to eat there, and neither will the staff be accustomed to the new rules. It is just possible, not likely but possible, that the owner will wake up, seize the reins, and rebuild his restaurant to the delight of his original customers and the relief of his staff.
The society that deploys its police more frequently against law-abiding citizens than against the increasingly aggressive criminals infesting its cities cannot long continue. Several very bad outcomes could be imagined. But it is just possible, not likely but possible, that the good citizens of this society might awaken from their slumbers and retake the reins of government restoring real justice for all and thereby assuring the durability of their society and culture.
In memory of Lianne, Noiva, and Yahel Sharabi, 48, 16, and 13, murdered on October 7, 2023, among all the others butchered that day.
With prayers for the release of their husband and father, Eli Sharabi, presumed taken captive that day along with the other 240+ hostages.
In our recommended Bible:
* Deuteronomy 16:18: (ש-ט-ר(י-ם. SH-T-R-(IM -makes it plural). P. 590, top line, 5th word from the right. There is a letter ‘ו’ vav before the word, meaning ‘and’.
** SH-R: Sir שר
SH-A-R: Gate שער
SH-V-R: Shatter שבר
SH-O-R: Ox שור
SH-CH-R: Dawn שחר
SH-M-R: Guard שמר
SH-K-R: Falsehood שקר
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The Art of Making Challah
$16.95 On Sale for $12
Thanksgiving is approaching. What a great time of year to up your baking skills and learn how to bake the traditional Sabbath and holiday bread known as Challah! Join Susan Lapin and have some fun as she walks you through each step of the process in this video tutorial (including her favorite recipe).
Read What People Are Saying:
I just took my second batch of challah out of the oven, it came out just as beautiful as the first batch. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe and giving a video tutorial. It makes me feel like I have a friend here in the kitchen with me! – Jen.
How delightful to see this lesson, Susan! I feel like I’ve kept you company in your kitchen, and learned some things including the traditional reason behind the braiding. I loved it! – Deborah L.