Monday Morning Quarterback On Parashat Shmini: A Ten Commandments’ Tale 

my moral compass broke at age 17. a short period of substance abuse altered my life’s trajectory. moral compasses are constantly challenged by modern society. freely flowing alcohol, an abundance of marijuana, prescription drugs with mind altering side effects, and the proliferation of fentanyl and other street drugs, cognitively and physically change us.

last week’s torah portion, shmini, speaks of the moral compass. “and the lord spoke to aaron, saying, do not drink wine that will lead to intoxication, neither you nor your sons with you, when you go into the tent of meeting, so that you shall not die. [this is] an eternal statute for your generations, to distinguish between holy and profane and between unclean and clean, and to instruct the children of israel regarding all the statutes which the lord has spoken to them through moses.” leviticus 10:8-11

in spite of sobriety’s value in optimizing decision making, societies compromise their citizenry’s ability by plying them with intoxicants. in new york, marijuana legalization rollout predictably has made the city worse. a new york post commentator, steve cuozzo, noted essentially that workers were visibly lacking in their anticipated cognitive abilities; there was an inability to routine job functions. in los angeles, i have encountered workers who are barely functionable and reek of marijuana while at work.

thus, beyond matters of morality, unscientific observation is producing an abundance of annecdotes suggesting that “day to day” life functioning is as well being destroyed as a result of the mythological quest for the “guilt free high.”

the “guilt free high” is costly. i’ve spent the last four decades wondering what might have been had i made better decisions. my short period of abuse caused certain doors of opportunity to be closed. my journey brought me to the realization that that the greatest high is to have full use of one’s faculties to both enjoy and process the world. my commitment to near sobriety- a social drink once in awhile-has been a worthwhile endeavor. as i embraced the clean life, i have continued to witness substance abuse keep growing exponentially. houses and apartment buildings reek of marijuana. i have found hypodermic needles on the grass in front of a library and i witnessed an individual shoot up heroin on the third/fourth street off ramp on the 10 freeway in santa monica.

sadly, with the pace our society is to enjoy the “guilt free high”, we will likely end up with many individuals so impaired that not only will they be unable to use their moral compass in any meaningful fashion, they will be incapable of finding it in the first place.

be well!!

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Published by biblelifestudies

I am a practicing lawyer and long term admirer of the bible

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