Sunday, 17 February 2019

Parsha: Ki Tisa, "Life is Complex"


It's in the Nishma tagline: Life is complex, Torah is complex etc.
Rabbi Hecht and I share a synchronicity on complexity. 

 People are seeking the old black-and-white solutions that made magic popular 1,000 years ago and dictators popular about 70 years ago. We seem to be drifting towards a new Dark Ages. Perhaps this is why Roshei Yeshiva are now being invested with "rebbe"-like infallibility -an absolute anathema to misnagidic thinking!

Anyhow - in the parsha -  we see that all 600,000+ adult Israelites were labelled with the guilt for the "Molten Calf" except for the Levi'im, Yehoshua,  women and children. Yet the Levite-produced carnage amounted to a mere 3,000 souls. This was less than 1/60 the of the total. Therefore, rabbinic thinking should deem it a nullified trivial measure!

Hazal have explained that there was not just one level of guilt, but at least 3 levels:
  1. Those who sinned with witnesses and warning
  2. Those who sinned with witnesses and NO warning
  3. Those who sinned without witnesses
There is also another hierarchy:
The Eirev Rav instigated the sin and were the ones who first started sinning. Some Israelites joined along, while some just watched without any Pinchas-like protest. Therefore, while only 3,000 Israelites were guilty of the actual sin of serving idols, the collective guilt of acquiescence or of condoning was nationwide.

This leads us to consider that not every guilt or culpability is morally equivalent. To say that since Andy Pettite was not 100% forthcoming at first makes him as big a liar as the Rocket or as McNamee is mis-leading and ingenuous. There are degrees of guilt. Fault is not a black and white continuum. There are also levels of honesty. While few humans bat 1.000 in the honesty department, not all are compulsive liars either!

That said: culpability is a funny thing! Many "public Jews" have railed that the world was silent about the Holocaust whilst it transpired, yet many - myself included - are silent as a slaughter occurs in Darfur.

A Hong Kong native who owns a Chinese restaurant lamented to me: Jews had a Holocaust . What about the Chinese!? Indeed, he is correct. In the aftermath of the Jimmy Doolittle raid "40 seconds over Tokyo" Japanese soldiers exacted revenge on 250,000 Chinese over the next few weeks. Nanking was raped!

Who in the West cares to comment!? In fact, most North Americans buy the Euro-Centric version of WWII. They begin at Hitler's invasion of Poland, almost completely ignoring Japan's occupation of China, not to mention Manchuria, etc.

Even in Europe, the Italian invasion of Abyssinia and the Spanish Civil War were surely part of the WWII cluster of the battles of the dictators! The point is, while standing silently by is not the same level of culpability as committing the dirty deed, nevertheless culpability there is indeed! Woe to all of us for not doing our best to protest

Shalom,
RRW

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