Ki Tisa 5764
Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11-34:35 )
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GOOD MORNING! Last week we explored the excuses for anti-Semitism; this week we'll look at the reason. Anti-Semitism is unique amongst the hatreds in the world in a combination of four aspects:
- Longevity - it's been around a long time.
- Universality - virtually everywhere in the world.
- Intensity - it's expressed in a particularly virulent manner.
- Confusion - there is surprisingly little agreement on why people hate the Jews.
Historians offer many "reasons" to explain why people are anti-Semitic: Jews are too powerful or too lazy; too separate or a threat to "racial purity" through assimilation; pacifistic or warmongers; capitalist exploiters or revolutionary communists; the "killers" of Jesus or the progenitors of Jesus; possessors of a Chosen People mentality or an inferiority complex. These reasons have one thing in common - they have nothing to do with our being Jewish. One might think that we are just the victims of bad luck - always possessing the needed quality to be hated wherever we are in the world at exactly that time in history.
Do you know who disagrees with the historians? Anne Frank. Writes Anne Frank on April 11,1944 in her diary:
"Who knows - it might even be our religion from which the world and all peoples learn good, and for that reason and that reason alone do we now suffer. We can never become just Netherlanders, or just English, or representatives of any other country for that matter. We will always remain Jews."
Anne Frank made a point of stressing that Jews have something of special value to give to the world, and that is precisely what the world has resented, and that is why people have persecuted Jews. Anne Frank identifies anti-Semitism as a hatred of Jewishness, a loathing altogether different from the bigotry or racism that other peoples experience.
The Talmud (Tractate Shabbos 69) cites the source of anti-Semitism using a play on words: The Torah – the source of the Jewish system of laws, values and moral standards – was received at Mount Sinai. The Hebrew pronunciation of "Sinai" is almost identical to the Hebrew word for "hatred" – "sinah." "Why was the Torah given on a mountain called Sinai?" asks the Talmud. "Because the great sinah – the tremendous hatred aimed at the Jew – emanates from Sinai."
At Sinai Jews were told that there is one God, Who makes moral demands on all of humanity. Consequently, at Sinai the Jewish nation became the target for the hatred of those whose strongest drive is to liberate mankind from the shackles of conscience and morality.
At Sinai the Jewish nation was appointed to be "a light unto the nations." There are those who embrace Jews and the Jewish faith because of that light; but there are also those who want the world to be a place of spiritual darkness. They object to morality. Those would-be harbingers of darkness attack the Jews as the lightning rod for their hatred. This "call to Sinai" – the message entrusted to and borne by the Jews – ultimately transforms the world. Yet, it is this very message that draws forth the wrath of those who would give their last ounce of strength to resist it.
A great many people simply can't cope with the burden of being good. However, when they act in ways that are bad, they can't cope with the resultant feelings of guilt. Try as they may, they can never cut themselves loose from the standards of absolute morality dictated by the Torah. Stuck in this "Catch-22" situation, people turn with their mounting frustrations against the Jews, whom they perceive as personifying humanity's collective conscience.
When the Jews entered the theological arena, they showed people all the mistakes they had been making: Pagan gods are nonsense – there is only one God for all of mankind, Who is invisible, infinite and perfect. Infanticide and human sacrifice are unacceptable. Every human being is born with specific rights. No one can live as he pleases, for everyone must surrender his will to a higher Authority.
On a certain conscious level, people recognize the Jews' message as truth. Those unwilling to embrace the truth have found that the only way to rid themselves of it is to destroy the messengers – for the message itself is too potent to be dismissed.
That is what is so irksome about the Jews, and that is why, for some people, nothing less than total destruction of the Jews will do. If Judaism were just another ideology, people could laugh it off and continue on their merry way. But deep in his soul, every human being recognizes the essential truths of morality – people can't just laugh it off.
For the last 2,000 years the Jewish people have gone through enormous amounts of persecution and hatred - ultimately leading to genocide. And through it all, the Jewish people always held onto being Jewish. Why? They understood that it was worth it. They understood what the meaning of being Jewish was, and they were willing to pay the price.
The pain that is part and parcel of being Jewish is obvious; if people cannot see any meaning to that pain, it is unlikely that they will be willing to stand by their Jewish identity. That is why we find such widespread assimilation today – Jews do not see why they should "lose out" on life and set themselves apart from their host societies.
If we can come to understand why Jews are so hated, we can understand who Jews are and, more important, who Jews can be. A powerful effort has been made to remove the Jewish element from anti-Semitism, and in doing so, to ignore the critical message anti-Semitism teaches about the uniqueness and preciousness of the Jew. This alone is a compelling reason for Jews to learn about anti-Semitism and what it means to be a Jew.
(Drawn from "Why the Jews?" seminar: http://www.aish.com/seminars/whythejews/)
Torah Portion of the Week
The Torah portion includes: instructions for taking a census (by each person donating a half shekel); instructions to make the Washstand, Anointing Oil, and the Incense for the Mishkan, the Portable Sanctuary; appointing Bezalel and Oholiab to head up the architects and craftsmen for the Mishkan; a special commandment forbidding the building of the Mishkan on Shabbat (people might have thought that they would be allowed to violate the Shabbat to do a Mitzvah ...).
The Torah portion continues with the infamous story of the Golden Calf. The people wrongly calculated that Moses was late in coming down from Mt. Sinai and the people were already seeking a replacement for him by making the Golden Calf (there is a big lesson in patience for us here). Moses sees them dancing around the calf and in anger breaks the Two Tablets; he then punishes the 3,000 wrongdoers (less than .1% of the 3 million people), pleads with God not to wipe out the people, requests to see the Divine Glory, and receives the second set of Tablets of the Ten Commandments.
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"And when (Moshe) got close to the camp, he saw the calf and the dancing; Moshe became angry and he threw the tablets from his hands and broke them beneath the mountain." (Exodus 32:19)
What angered Moshe and caused him to break the tablets?
The Sforno comments that Moshe was angry because he saw that they had joy from the wrong that they did. Had they felt regret, they could have corrected their error and been worthy of the tablets. Our lesson: If we do wrong, we should feel regret and be motivated to change and improve our actions.
CANDLE LIGHTING - March 12:
(or Go to http://www.aish.com/candlelighting)
Guatemala 5:53 Hong Kong 6:13 Honolulu 6:20
J'Burg 6:09 London 5:41 Los Angeles 5:40
Melbourne 6:22 Miami 6:10 Moscow 6:10
New York 5:42 Singapore 7:00
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
When you are good to others,
you are best to yourself.
-- Benjamin Franklin
In Loving Memory of