Sunday, March 19, 2006

A question of psychology

Bnei Yisrael were found guilty of creating an eigel hazahav at the precious moment of kabbalas haTorah and Moshe dares ask, "Lamah Hashem yechere apcha b'amecha asher hotzeisa m'Eretz Mitzrayim" , why Hashem are you angry at your nation that you took out of Egypt? How can one question "why" in this circumstance?! - such a blatant show of defiance justifiable should arouse Hashem's anger and dries out for punishment.
The Ramban suggests that Moshe's intent was to plead for the nation as a whole. True, a small group had sinned, particularly the eirev rav who Moshe himself had insisted be redeemed from Egypt, but the nation as a whole whom Hashem chose to redeem from bondage was not guilty.
I liked the Abarbanel's approach to the pasuk. Bnei Yisrael had been living in the surroundings of pagan idolotrous Egyptian society for 2 - 3 generations until Hashem took them out just a few short weeks before kabbalas haTorah. It takes more than a few weeks to undo the effects of years and years of cultural influence. Moshe pleaded to Hashem to not be angry at a people who just recently redeemed from Egypt, yet who were psychologically still very much under the Egyptian influence (compare with Ibn Ezra, Shmos 14:13 why BN"Y did not fight against a mere 600 chariots at Yam Suf).
I am tempted to rant, but am holding back - day l'chakima b'remiza that even if you are committed to the philosophy of Torah but are steeped in a culture that opposes that, you may be headed for trouble.

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