Yisrael’s Challenge to Moral Relativism

Dear Friends,
There are many people within the western world who claim that there are no absolute truths, and that each person is free to decide what is truth. This view is known as "moral relativism" – the belief that no opinion or value is ultimately better than another, since it's all "relative." According to the followers of this belief, it simply depends on your point of view. Yes, one person may feel that "tzedakah" –  helping those in need - is his truth; however, another person may feel that being a miser is his truth. From the perspective of the moral relativist, who is to say which is better? 
According to this philosophy, each person can be his own god and create his own truth. For example, when some Jewish professors on college campuses tried to help their students understand the evil of the Holocaust, there were students who responded: The Germans of that period had another point of view – another truth. It is therefore wrong to make any distinction by saying one view is good or one is evil. It all depends on your point of view!
It is no wonder that some progressive activists have begun to join Torah-committed activists in challenging the philosophy of moral relativism which has become popular within certain progressive circles. I would therefore like to share with you a statement of protest from an article in the Forward, a progressive Jewish newspaper. It appeared on March 18th, 2005, and the author is Joshua Halberstam, a New York writer who taught philosophy at New York University and at Teacher's College, Columbia University. The title is, "Will the Left Finally Talk About What Matters?" The article discusses how many progressive activists have abandoned the concept of absolute ethical and moral values, and he writes:

Underlying this endemic inhibition to assert moral judgments is a pervasive, crude relativism. Perhaps nowhere is this stance more rooted than on the college campus, both among both professors and their students. Ethical relativists stipulate that no ethical position can be objectively true or false, for all values are simply reflections of one's culture (or, in some versions, one's personal taste). From the presumption, "It is true that everyone has an equal right to an opinion," they conclude blithely, "Therefore everyone's opinion is equally true." Such simplistic relativism is not only philosophically vacuous, but also socially pernicious. Not all points of view deserve respect. In fact, genuine moral equivalence is rarely the case — some claims are more legitimate than others.
The Torah opposes the concept of moral relativism. To understand this idea on a deeper level, we need to discuss the argument used by the serpent in the Garden of Eden, when it persuaded the human being to violate the Divine mandate by eating from the forbidden fruit. The serpent said:
"You will surely not die; for God knows that on the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Genesis. 3:4).
Through this argument, human beings are tempted to become like God, and thereby decide for themselves what is "good and evil." In this particular story, the human being decides that what is "good" is what gratifies the desires of the body, and what is "evil" is what denies the human being the immediate gratification of these desires (Genesis 3:6).
The first human couple lost the Garden when they forgot that there are eternal and absolute values which express the higher and life-giving truth of the Compassionate One. We, the people called Yisrael, are to find the way back to the Garden by following a spiritual path which connects us to the higher and life-giving Divine truth.  In this way, we proclaim the universal message of our name: The Compassionate One is above all.
Through the inspiration of our spiritual example, the peoples of the earth will also gain this higher consciousness, as it written:
"It will happen in the end of days: The Mountain of the Temple of the Compassionate One will be firmly established as the head of the mountains, and it will be exalted above the hills, and all the nations will stream to it. Many peoples will go and say, 'Come, let us go up to the Mountain of the Compassionate One, to the Temple of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us of His ways and we will walk in His paths.'  For from Zion will go forth Torah, and the word of the Compassionate One from Jerusalem." (Isaiah 2:2,3)
Have a Good and Sweet Shabbos,
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen   (See below)
A Related Teaching:
When we, the people called Yisrael, fulfill our universal mission, we will merit to experience the fulfillment of the following prophecy of comfort which we chant on this Shabbos:
"Violence shall no longer be heard of in your land, nor plunder and calamity  in your borders; but you shall call God’s salvation your protective walls, and the praise of His deeds your gates. You shall no longer have need of the sun  for light of day, nor for brightness the moon to illuminate for you; rather the Compassionate One shall be unto you an eternal light, and ended shall be the days of your mourning. And your people, they are all righteous; forever will they inherit the Land; a branch of My planting, My handiwork, for Me to glory in. The smallest shall increase a thousandfold, and the least into a mighty nation; I am the Compassionate One; in its time I will hasten it." (Isaiah 60:18-22)

Hazon - Our Universal Vision