Pharaoh, human rights, lies, and deception
These are some of the words, thoughts entering my mind while trying to process the weekly Torah Reading — Pharaoh, Human rights, Tutu, Chaim Walder, lies, and deception.
One of the questions asked is how do we explain this to our children? I suppose, how do explain this to ourselves? How do reconcile the harm done — not only to minors but in adultery with married women. Lives have been destroyed.
Does this lessen our faith in man? Lessen our faith in Judaism, or lessen our faith in God?
Thought 1- Halacha
I want to start out by exploring the area of boundaries and Halacha.
We may mock the over-focus on Halacha, but these rules are the bedrock of our Jewish lives. Without Halacha, there would be no Shabbat. There is Halacha of doing Business right and honestly. There is Halacha about inappropriate relationships. There are halachot about being kind to the unfortunate, fellow person. The Halachot were drawn up recognising man's weaknesses and frailty.
Today, you have a messianic, misinterpretation of Halacha.
Halacha has clear boundaries, and following these guidelines can help avoid the circumstances of man's weaknesses and animal behaviour.
Thought 2 — Whitewashing, change the dialogue, we are not perfect.
There is a trend mainly by the Hareidi stream of Judaism to portray our Rabbis, gadolim as perfect. We have ArtScroll censorship, banning of the book “Making of a Gadol” which describes Rav Kamentsky with normal struggles and desires.
The Bible does not mince its criticism of the failings of our leaders and the children of Israel. Similarly, our Kings were less than perfect. Just read the Holy Scriptures.
There are obvious lessons to be learned from our imperfections.
We have the awareness of the challenges of mental health, the struggles of life, sexual temptation, and more.
The Jewish tradition has a wealth of resources and it is time to embrace these stories of human frailty, evil, and desires and use these teachings and stories as an opportunity to change the discussion and help us the best version of ourselves and our children.
Thought 3 — Lies and deception
We have the complicated live story of Archbishop Tutu was passed away this week.
Tutu who found himself at the right time of history and luck became a symbol of fighting for human rights. At the same time, he was a racist and anti-Jewish. The problem is that anti-Jewish is not considered racism. Jews are legitimate targets and sub human. This is what enabled the Holocaust and today the extreme, irrational obsession with Israel.
Thought 4 — Dark before the light
This world is filled with much darkness and pain. There seems to be clear patterns:
Night before Day
Slavery before Freedom
Holocaust before Israel
Learn from our mistakes to be better
Confusion leads to understanding
This is a trend? This is our hope?
Let’s learn from the struggles of life to make us, our communities, countries a more honest, caring environment
Thought 5 — Halachot and Gadol BaTorah
I am sitting on the train after morning prayers and there is a Dvar Halacha. Afterwards, the issue is debated and clarified. So, we need also to argue and discuss human frailty and what is a healthy approach to life.
Which leads me to ask what is Gadol Batorah? i.e. somebody who is great in the Torah knowledge. So, what is the Torah?
Is the Torah a book of Halacha or guide to life, a guide to purpose in life? or something else?
I will leave this question hanging..
Thought 6 — Is there a plan and hope for man?
So, let's look into the weekly Torak portion for some crumbs to hang onto.
לכן אמר לבני־ישראל אני יהוה והוצאתי אתכם מתחת סבלת מצרים והצלתי אתכם מעבדתם וגאלתי אתכם בזרוע נטויה ובשפטים גדלים׃
Therefore say to the people of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you from their slavery, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments;
So, when all is said and done, God, our weekly Torah reading is a source of inspiration and uplifting thoughts.
Let’s embrace the gift of Shabbat to recharge ourselves, renew our connection with family and God.