"In those days there was no king in Israel; each man did that which was proper in his own eyes."
At first glance, this verse appears to describe a chaotic state of affairs, where in absence of a central
authority everyone did as they pleased, however, this interpretation is incorrect. Everyone has common sense, which can reliably
guide him to do right and avoid wrong. ("Do that which is proper and good." Deuteronomy 6:18) How do we know what is proper
and good if the Torah
does not specify it? It must be that we have an innate common sense. If so, why does the world seem so
unjust? One reason might be that people do not act according to their own common sense, but rather according to what they
think others might think of them.
When we stop behaving according to what we wish others to think, we might give our common sense a fighting
While people have common sense to lead them to do right and avoid wrong, they also face another obstacle
that could cause them to stray from the correct path - the drive for immediate gratification. Seeking
immediate gratification can mislead us like a bribe. The Torah accurately states that a bribe will blind the eyes of even the wise. (Deuteronomy 16:19)
Thus, we only do what is proper when our "eyes" function well. Be on guard against temptations that may affect your sense
of propriety and justice.
The Rebbe of Rhizin stated that we should go through life the way tightrope walkers maintain their delicate
balance: when they feel a tug on one side, they lean toward the opposite side. When we feel tempted by something, our
first reaction should be to steer ourselves away from it. Only then can we apply our common sense and decide what to do. Once
we recognize and control our desire to impress others and our drive for immediate gratification, we will be able to exercise