Friday, June 17, 2022

a gift is a mechayeiv

I work close to midtown Manhattan in a building, one of many in the neighborhood, that has a giant pride flag hanging over the front entrance.  Every morning I am greeted with a colorful flier pasted on the entranceway to our floor encouraging people to join a group that engages in "advocacy" and promotes "visibility" of people engaged in a to'eivah lifestyle.  As part of the celebrations this month, there are conferences and events being held with participation of C-level executives, just to make sure you get the message that toe'aveh is supported at the highest levels in the company.  All this is in addition to the regular barrage of emails I get offering me things like voluntary (for now)  unconscious bias training and the like.  

I remember back in the good ol' days where the biggest issues working in a corporate environment were things like making sure you could leave early on erev Shabbos, or a woman manager offering a handshake after a meeting or interview.  Now, in many companies there is no problem even getting kosher food at meetings (offered alongside vegetarian, vegan, hallal, and a gamut of other selections).  What you put in your mouth may be kosher, but everything else in the environment is treif! 

I'm not surprised that a judge ruled this week that Yeshiva Universtity must recognize a LGBT group.  You can't be a square and claim you are really a circle.  You can't claim to be a "non religious organization" but then exclude LGBT because you want to keep religious values.  Circle or square -- which is it?  Torah u'Mada maybe makes sense if you are dealing with 1950's liberal values, with what was once thought of as the great ideas of Western civilization.  Maybe there is something we can take away from those ideas.  These days, forget it.  To even talk about Western civilization will get you banned.  The world is not interested in our values, and I don't see how we can gain much from being interested in the ones in vogue out there.  

Anyway... something on the parsha:

1. Bn"Y complain about the mon and Moshe is ready to throw in the towel:

הֶאָנֹכִ֣י הָרִ֗יתִי אֵ֚ת כׇּל־הָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֔ה אִם־אָנֹכִ֖י יְלִדְתִּ֑יהוּ כִּֽי־תֹאמַ֨ר אֵלַ֜י שָׂאֵ֣הוּ בְחֵיקֶ֗ךָ כַּאֲשֶׁ֨ר יִשָּׂ֤א הָאֹמֵן֙ אֶת־הַיֹּנֵ֔ק עַ֚ל הָֽאֲדָמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר נִשְׁבַּ֖עְתָּ לַאֲבֹתָֽיו (11:12)

Rashi already asks: when did Hashem ever say that Moshe has to serve as a nursemaid, to be like a kindergarten teacher and baby people?

R' Yerucham Lebovitz answers that the very fact that Hashem gave Moshe the gift of leadership, the power to deal with the people even when they are rebellious, even when they test his patience, is mechayeiv him to do so.  

When Hashem gives a person a talent, a gift, that's Hashem's message to the individual that their mission is to use that ability to its fullest.  

2. How is a leader supposed to react when the flock lets him down?  וּבְעֵינֵ֥י מֹשֶׁ֖ה רָֽע׃ (11:9)  Rather than asking for mercy from Hashem, this time Moshe shows his disapproval (see post here), and in the very next pasuk says to Hashem:

 לָמָ֤ה הֲרֵעֹ֙תָ֙ לְעַבְדֶּ֔ךָ וְלָ֛מָּה לֹא־מָצָ֥תִי חֵ֖ן בְּעֵינֶ֑יךָ לָשׂ֗וּם אֶת־מַשָּׂ֛א כׇּל־הָעָ֥ם הַזֶּ֖ה עָלָֽי

Sounds like Moshe is bemoaning his lot, asking Hashem why he has to put up with the complaints.  The Noam Elimelech, however, k'darko reads the pasuk quite differently.  לָמָ֤ה הֲרֵעֹ֙תָ֙ לְעַבְדֶּ֔ךָ -- why, Hashem, have you made it so that  I see the רָֽע in the people -- וּבְעֵינֵ֥י מֹשֶׁ֖ה רָֽע -- and not the good?  וְלָ֛מָּה לֹא־מָצָ֥תִי חֵ֖ן בְּעֵינֶ֑יךָ לָשׂ֗וּם אֶת־מַשָּׂ֛א כׇּל־הָעָ֥ם הַזֶּ֖ה עָלָֽי -- why have I not found favor to be charged with carrying the people's burdens rather than become a leader who cannot see the good in his people?

As discussed once before, the greatness of Moshe was "temunas Hashem yabit" -- when he looked at a simple Jew, maybe even a rebellious Jew, he saw temunas Hashem.

1 comment:

  1. This has been tied to the haggadah, that the shib'ud to your benefactor could be used to explain וְאִלּוּ לֹא הוֹצִיא הקב"ה אֶת אֲבוֹתֵינוּ מִמִּצְרָיִם, הֲרֵי אָנוּ וּבָנֵינוּ וּבְנֵי בָנֵינוּ מְשֻׁעְבָּדִים הָיִינוּ לְפַרְעֹה בְּמִצְרָיִם. Some Par'oh would have freed us, and then we would be meshub'ad to him. Notice also that the binyan is shif'il, שעבד, which is more about hischayvus than actual servitude. (Mishnaic Hebrew apparently only borrowed shif'il from Aramaic for the עבד root. At least when I asked, my experts don't know of another case.)