Tuesday, July 21, 2015

a climate of hatred

I cannot help but be depressed, angry, frustrated when I think of the events going on in the world.  It does not put one in the mood to write.  There is going to be a (hopefully) massive rally tomorrow in NY at Times Square at 5:30-7:30, see here.  What saddens me is that, while I hope I am wrong, I am willing to go out on a limb and predict in advance that segments of our community will not show up.  There are organizations that have yet to come out and publicly urge their members to attend.  I cannot fathom or understand their hashkafa.  Why?  What are they waiting for?  We live in a world where pictures matter, where sound bites matter.  The press and public at large are not interested in hairsplitting Talmudic explanations of why you can't attend but still support Israel -- if you can't show up and be counted, then the world takes that to mean that you don't care.  It's just that simple.  I don't want to turn this into a rant to beat up on certain organizations , and maybe I've said too much already (I keep cutting sections out of this post until soon there will be nothing left of it : )  Forget about them -- our job is to focus on ourselves, our love for Eretz Yisrael, our hishtadlus, or efforts to make things better. 

It's only once we get a few pesukim into Parshas Balak that we are told that "u'Balak ben Tzipor melech Moav b'eis ha'hi."  Why withhold that detail?  Why not tell us in the first pasuk in the parsha, when his name is first mentioned, that Balak was the king of Moav?   Chasam Sofer answers that the Torah holds off because it's only once we start speaking of Bilam's deliberations whether to go and take the job of cursing Bnei Yisrael that this detail takes on import and significance.  "Lev melachim b'yad Hashem."  Rulers have no free choice -- the fate of countries and governments, the decisions of its rulers, is guided by G-d.  Bilam thought to himself that if Balak the king was calling upon him to curse the Jewish people, then that must be G-d's will.  And indeed it was G-d's will -- but only for the ultimate purpose of forcing Bilam to speak bracha instead of what he planned to say. 

I would like to suggest a slightly different approach.  Bilam had his own agenda and desire to curse Klal Yisrael.  Had the world had strong moral leadership, he might never have dared to do so.  However, when Bilam saw that "u'Balak ben Tzipor melech Moav," a Jew hater like himself, was now in charge, there was nothing to stop him.  There was now a climate that not only tolerated, but encouraged his hatred.

We currently have a President y'mach shemo that is unequaled in American history in his hatred of Israel and the Jewish people.   The word looks and says, "u'Balak ben Tzipor melech Moav," there is someone like us in charge, and therefore we have license to curse and attack and degrade Jews.  There is now a climate of Israel hatred and Jew hatred as never before, and if it took Michael Oren's book to wake you up to that, shame on you. 

The punchline, however, is that it was all a setup.  Hashem deliberately led Balak and Bilam on, and we know how the story ended.  The navi tells us that we have to remember the lessons of that episode where we saw  Hashem's mercy, "from Shittim to Gilgal (Michah 6:7)  What does the navi mean "until Gilgal?"  Did Hashem's mercy somehow come to a stop there c"v?  The Chasam Sofer (again, and also see Rashi on that pasuk) explains that Gilgal was our first stop in Eretz Yisrael after we entered the land.  When in chutz la'aretz, we are entirely dependent on "tzidkos Hashem" because the challenges are so great and our zechuyos so meager.  It's a free handout that Hashem gives us.  But in Eretz Yisrael we have the home court advantage.  There it's not "tzidkos Hashem" alone, but Hashem's mercy is something we can earn and something that, if we play our cards right, we will deserve.   

1 comment:

  1. You could further bring from Balak that when we came through the area Moab and Midyan, traditional enemies, united out of fear and hatred. Surely out of love for our family in Israel we could unite as well.