04 June 2020

Sentiments For Our Days

13 Sivan 5780
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Parashat Beha'alotcha
When the Ark would journey, Moshe said, "Arise, Hashem, and let Your foes be scattered, let those who hate You flee from before You."  And when it rested, he would say, "Reside tranquilly, O Hashem, among the myriad thousands of Israel." (Bamidbar 10:35-36)
The Stone Edition Chumash comments:
...Recognizing that Israel would always have foes and haters who strive to prevent submission to God from holding sway on earth, Moshe began every journey with a plea that God protect His servants from those who seek to thwart the realization of His will. And when the people, led by the Ark, were coming to rest, he prayed that the vast numbers of the nation and its future descendants would feel the Divine Presence, unopposed, in their midst. ...these two verses...encompass the striving and final triumph of the Divine ideal.
In another take on these verses, Rabbi David Etengoff, a Torah columnist for The Jewish Star wrote:
I find the first of our two pesukim particularly difficult to comprehend; in particular, the phrase, “and may those who hate You flee from You,” seems to hide far more than it reveals. After all, exactly who are those “who hate You”? Moreover, what does it actually mean to “hate G-d”? Fortunately, these questions were addressed long ago in the Midrash Sifrei on our pasuk:

“Are there really haters [that stand before] the One who spoke and the world came into being? Rather, the text is teaching us that anyone who hates the Jewish people is as if he hates the One who spoke and the world came into being. We find this idea, as well, in another verse: ‘And with Your great pride You tear down those who rise up against You; You send forth Your burning wrath; it devours them like straw’ (Shemot 15:7). Are there really those who rise up against the One who spoke and the world came into being? Rather, the Torah is teaching us that anyone who rises up against the Jewish people is as if he has risen up against the Omnipresent One” (Pesikta 84).

According to this Midrash, no one actually hates or rises up against Hashem. Instead, anyone, be they individuals or nations, who has abject antipathy for our people and wreaks havoc against us is included among those who are called sonei Hashem (haters of Hashem). Professor Nechama Leibowitz zt”l, one of the previous generation’s greatest exponents of Torah analysis, offers an interpretation of our midrashic passage that is particularly apropos:

“Accordingly, the enemies of Israel are synonymous with the enemies of G-d. Whether we are worthy or not of this title; those bent on our destruction regard us as the standard-bearers of truth and justice and the representatives of the divine Law. And it is for this reason they persecute and hate us” (Studies in Bamidbar, page 91).

Professor Leibowitz buttresses her insights with the following synopsis of Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch’s zt”l interpretation of our pesukim:

“Hirsch, commenting on this passage, remarks that Moses was aware that enemies would rise up against the Torah from the moment that it was given. Its demands for justice and altruism were bound to antagonize aggressors and tyrants and stand in the way of their designs. The Torah’s call to holiness would not only arouse hatred, but active persecution” (Ibid.)

Taken in tandem, Professor Leibowitz provides us with a clear path for understanding the very nature of anti-Semitism, and why, for example, the Haggadah solemnly proclaims: “Bechol dor v’dor omdim aleinu l’chaloteinu” — “In each and every generation, there are those who rise against us to completely destroy us.”

In sum, it is because we are “the standard-bearers of truth and justice and the representatives of the divine Law.” In addition, the Torah itself, and we as its representatives, are antithetical to everything for which the tyrants of the world have stood and continue to stand. “Its demands for justice and altruism,” coupled with the Torah’s “call to holiness,” are ideals by which our enemies cannot abide.

As a result, as the “People of the Book,” that is, as representatives of Hashem’s holy Law, we continue to be hated and persecuted until this time.  (Source)
I tried to find the source, without success, but I do recall learning somewhere that those who are "our foes" are of Yishmael and "our haters" are of Eisav.  We must never forget that it is a halachah that Eisav soneh et Ya'aqovEisav hates Ya'aqov.  When you understand and accept that, things like the following come as no surprise at all.
  According to a report from Kann News, US officials said, "Settlers are ungrateful and that is the reason for our [Trump Administration's] cold shoulder. As we struggle with the coronavirus and riots in the streets - they attack us."
(See Trump's Kindness to Israel.May we all find perfect rest and peace in the joy of the Holy Shabbat and may we merit to see with our own eyes either the teshuvah or the downfall of all Hashem's foes and haters!!

~ SHABBAT SHALOM ~

1 comment:

Devash said...

I tried to find the source, without success, but I do recall learning somewhere that those who are "our foes" are of Yishmael and "our haters" are of Eisav.

Rav Yehudah says one source is Rabbeinu Bachya in his peirush on the Torah, Parashat Nitzavim and also the GR"A.