Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Holy On Their Knees. The Reckless Are Out Wrecking. The Timid Plead Their Pleas (Robert Hunter & Jerry Garcia - "Days Between")

Of the 17 students and faculty murdered at the Parkland, Florida school shooting, 5 were Jewish. Four of the five were students and one was a teacher.  Our children noticed that two Jewish fathers, Andrew Pollack and Fred Guttenberg’s responses have been most impactful upon them. Both fathers are devastated, both fathers lost daughters.  It would have understandable had these fathers chose to mourn their devastating loss amid the privacy and the quiet of family and friends. It would have been understandable if these two fathers were too sad, too enraged, too broken, and too full of tears to speak about their daughters or to speak about the need to devise some type of meaningful gun control legislation.  Rather than being overwhelmed and perhaps understandably numbed and paralyzed by their tragic losses, both fathers stood side by side with the high school students.   Both fathers have been outspoken, not only about their grief and their anger but also about making sure that their daughters’ tragic deaths will not become another meaningless, empty hopeless statistic. Both fathers have had confrontations with Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and President Trump criticizing their lack of resolve to stand up to the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the cult of Guns.
  This week’s Torah portion is entitled 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 blueprints 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 reiterates 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 reiterates 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, and weakened. How could these idol worshipping 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.
It takes great courage to stand up for one’s beliefs. It takes even greater courage to confront leaders when standing up for one’s beliefs. Perhaps it takes the most courage and strength to channel that anguish, pain and suffering into the integrity required to prevent a loved one from becoming just another statistic. Each father has passionately confronted elected officials, Senators, Governor and President. Each father passionately and articulately expressed their commonly held belief that society must protect its children from the fires Molech, and the culture of death perpetrated by politicians and the NRA leadership. From these two fathers, our children understood that no matter the sacrifice, every parents’ most primitive inclination is to protect the lives of their children; and if their lives can’t be protected, the next child’s life must be protected.
Rav Yitz 

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