Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Since It Cost A Lot To Win; And Even More To Lose (Robert Hunter & Jerry Garcia - "Deal")

Our children had an opportunity to watch a powerful moment of political theater when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke in front of a joint session of U.S. Congress on Tuesday.  In stating his concern about the viability of any deal with Iran and its nuclear capabilities, Prime Minister Netanyahu reminded the United States of the risks of a nuclear armed Iran. A nuclear armed Iran is a threat to not only Israel and all the Arab Nations in the Middle East but Iran is a threat to Europe and the United States as well.  Netanyahu invoked Purim as he reminded us that more than 2000 years ago, a Persian Vizier wanted to destroy the Jewish people much like Iran leadership (formerly Persia) also wants to destroy the Jewish people. The Prime Minister also reminded the world that the United States and Israel has a very close relationship that transcends party allegiance. He didn’t offer an alternative plan; only to not negotiate the current plan. Netanyahu believes that it is possible to negotiate a stronger deal that favors the west as opposed to Iran; and perhaps would be better to start over as opposed to take this deal. Of course we won’t know what the deal with Iran is until the end of March. While many criticize the Prime Minister for not offering another plan; that criticism misses the point. The Prime Minister was focused upon one idea; not promoting his plan, but rather warn the West about the dangers of making deals that weaken the West.
This Shabbat, the Shabbat following Purim, we read from Parsha Ki Tissah. Parsha Ki Tissa is divided into several parts. The first part being the commanded to take a census of the population and collect a half shekel for each person counted. The second part is the final blue prints for the Mishkan, the spices that are to be used, as well as the oil that is to be processed prior to burning. God then designates two men, Betzalel ben Uri from the tribe of Judah and Ahaliav ben Achisamach from the tribe of Dan to be the Master Builder and Designer of this national project. God re-iterates the commandment of the Shabbat and reminds Moshe that anyone who violates it will be put to death and his/her soul will be cut off from the people.  The next part B’nai Yisroel commits the sin of the Eigel Zahav (Golden Calf): they built and then worshipped an idol. God wants to wipe out the people but Moshe urges God to reconsider. Moshe then descends the mountain and becomes just as upset as God, and he throws down the Shnei Luchot HaBritthe Two Tablets of the Covenant. After a day or two when calm has been restored, Moshe re-ascends the mountain in order to pray for national forgiveness. Moshe then has an opportunity to experience another personal revelation even more powerful than the Burning Bush; Moshe has the opportunity to witness God’s passing before him. Dictated by God, Moshe chisels the Aseret Diberot into two new Tablets. He then goes back down the mountain. This time he descends with light and glory of God emanating from him.
During the moment when Moshe re- ascends the mountain seeking forgiveness for the people and Moshe experiences a personal revelation and watched God pass by; God re-iterates the covenant.  VaYomer Hinei Anochi Koreit Brit Neged Kol Amcha E’eseh Niflaot Asher Lo Nivre’u V’Chol Ha’Aretz U’VeChol HaGoyim - God said, ‘Behold, I seal a covenant: Before your entire people I shall make distinctions such as have never been created in the entire world and among all the nations.; and the entire people among whom you are will see the work of Hashem – which is awesome - that I am about to do with you. HiShameir Lecha Pen Tichrot Brit L’Yosheiv Ha’Aretz Asher Atah Ba Aleha Pen Yiheyeh L’Mokeish B’Kirbecha- Be vigilant lest you seal a covenant with the inhabitant of the land to which you come, lest it be a snare among you. (Ex. 34:11-12)The lesson of the Eigel Zahav, (the Golden Calf) was that B’nai Yisroel mimicked the indigenous idolatrous people that were living in B’nai Yisroel’s covenanted land.  God reminded Moshe and by association reminded the people that they must not weaken the nature of the covenant. They must not deal with these nations for fear that B’nai Yisroel becomes ensnared (L’Mokeish), trapped, ensnared and weakened. How could these idolatrous nations ensnare B’nai Yisroel? The fact is these nations cannot trap or ensnare B’nai Yisroel unless B’nai Yisroel ceases its vigilance, if they start dealing with these nations, or if they think that peace with these nations will lead to the perpetuation of B’nai Yisroel. From God’s perspective is to remind Moshe that the desire to make peace with those who want to destroy B’nai Yisroel, is not peace but rather will lead to B’nai Yisroel’s destruction.
No, the Prime Minister did not offer an alternative plan. Rather we were all reminded that we should be very careful, very cautious when seeking peace with enemies. The Prime Minister was warning us to avoid entrapment, to avoid our urge to be satisfied with any deal just to say there is a deal. When dealing with evil, the Prime Minister reminded us, that we must avoid becoming trapped. We avoid entrapment by focusing upon Iran’s current behavior and linking it to their desire for nuclear capabilities. Stop state sponsored terrorism, cease anti-Israel and anti-American vitriol, cease exporting Jihad around the world and then as a reward for better behavior Iran can have nuclear power without nuclear weapons.
Rav Yitz  

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