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Home » Events in the News, Israel, Tragedy, Tzav

Why We Must Resist The Cease Fire Resolution

Submitted by on March 25, 2024 – 8:50 pmNo Comment | 376 views

Tzav: Fighting Evil

We are surrounded by evil; every so often, it rears its ugly head as it did on Simchat Torah—the October 7 massacre. Pure evil raped Jewish mothers, burned Jewish babies alive, mutilated their fathers, and beheaded their neighbors. Pure evil burned loving couples clinging to each other, to a crisp. Pure evil mowed down peace-loving partygoers in cold blood. Since then, pure evil has accosted us on the streets, in the squares, in the universities, and public spaces.

Our mandate is to fight evil. Never to surrender, never to succumb. To keep the flame of righteousness burning in our hearts even when we see no light. Even when we are surrounded by utter darkness.

All Night Long
I was driving past a home in the neighborhood with a huge woodpile, and I stopped to marvel. I complimented the owner, who told me that he sells wood. He says firewood is selling so fast that he can’t keep the wood on his lot long enough to dry it. Apparently, the carbon tax is good for his business.

That day, I studied the first few words of the Parshah, and it was all about keeping the fires burning. The Torah instructs us to keep the fires burning on the altar, “All night till morning” (Leviticus 6:2). “Do not extinguish it.” (Leviticus 6:6). Now, the night is not fit for offerings. Offerings must be brought during the day.[1] If we can’t bring the offerings at night, why do we need a fire?

Korban, the Hebrew word for offering, means to draw close. Sometimes, we feel closeness with G-d and sometimes we don’t. Jewish mystics compare the Jewish exile to the night. A korban may not be brought at night. Allegorically, this means that we don’t feel close to G-d when we suffer in exile. The Torah tells us that during the night—when we are surrounded by evil and don’t feel G-d’s presence, when we are in exile and feel spiritually dark and distant from G-d, we must not let the embers die. Keep the flame alive.[2]

We might be filled with rage, but the Torah begs us not to direct it against G-d. We might feel like closing the door on this more than three millennia relationship, but G-d implores us to hold out. Don’t extinguish the flame.[3] The night won’t last forever. Keep the embers burning. The morning will come.

How?
The million-dollar question is how. How do we continue to trust in G-d when He allows us to be rocketed by so much evil and darkness? This is a question that Moses, King David, and every Jewish rabbi and philosopher asked. The theodicy question: why does G-d allow the righteous to suffer?

Some have said that it is not G-d’s fault. Humans cause suffering, not G-d. They are right. Some have said that G-d orchestrates all events, and only G-d knows why this was destined. They, too, are right. But how can both be right?

Because there are two halves to this equation. Nothing happens unless G-d wills it. And if G-d wills it, He has a good reason because G-d is inherently good. Just the same, the perpetrators are not G-d’s messengers. They are evil incarnate who abused their freedom of choice to perpetrate evil. The victims’ suffering was destined for reasons known only to G-d. The terrorist butchers are evil.

Fighting evil is our mandate, so we must never stop asking why. It is a question we must ask with rage because this rage fuels our resistance to evil and our struggle against evil until we overcome it.

Moses
At the burning bush, G-d offered to teach Moses the reason for human suffering. At first, Moses was tempted, and he began to approach the bush. Then he looked away because he was afraid to learn the answer.[4] Had Moses learned why the righteous suffer, he would have gained a piece of divinity at the cost of his humanity. If he knew suffering from the perspective of heaven, he would have to make peace with it. How could he fight evil with undying righteous indignation if he knew the justification for this evil?

Yes, Moses could split hairs better than us. He could know its justification while not forgiving the perpetrators. But he would not be able to fight them with the same rage and determination as he would if he did not know the reason. It is our mandate as humans and as Jews to fight evil to the bitter end. Until it is overcome and vanquished. This requires outrage and we can’t be outraged if we know why it happened.

This is why we must always ask the question and never learn the answer. The question must be asked with rage and must fuel our rage. This motivates and empowers us to stay the course.

This is why G-d told Moses, “You can’t see me and live.”[5] If you see and know me, you will cease to be you. You will become me, and you won’t be able to live as a human. If you are like me, if you become me, you won’t be able to fight evil with the same rage that humans muster. You will become G-dlike and that is not your mandate. It is not your mandate to sit on a high perch looking down on human pettiness. Your mandate is to enter the fray and resist evil with everything you have. Resist it till you quash it.

King David
Surrounded by enemies, King David turned to G-d and wailed, “My G-d, My G-d, why have you abandoned me” (Psalms 22:2). In Hebrew, lamah means why, and mah means what. We could read the word as lamah, why, or lemah, what for? In his commentary, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsh suggests that David was not asking why but what for. My G-d, My G-d, what do you want me to do in response to evil?

When a word in the Torah has dual meanings, both are prevalent. The answer to the question, “What do you want me to do in response to evil,” is to resist it with all you have and ensure it never raises its ugly head again. However, when “cultured” nations step in with “sophisticated” arguments for why we “should” give up our fight against evil, the question of “why” gives us the strength to continue the fight.

Fueled by the rage of why Jewish babies still suffer, why Jewish hostages are still in captivity, and why Jewish women and elderly are being kept in cages like dogs, we say no to the world and press on until evil is eradicated. The question of lamah—why, gives us the strength to answer the question of lemah—what shall we do?

Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, former chief rabbi of Israel, related that he saw the Lubavitcher Rebbe shortly after the Yom Kippur war. The Rebbe asked what Jews in Israel were asking. Rabbi Lau replied they are asking, “What will be?” The Rebbe grabbed his hand and said, “Oy, a Jew doesn’t ask, ‘what will be,’ a Jew asks, ‘what must we do?’”

Keep the Embers Glowing
The nations of the world come and tell us to cease fire. G-d comes and tells us to keep the fires burning all night long until the morning dawns. When the world is free of evil, we will be free to stop fighting evil. Until then, the suggestion that good people do nothing to fight evil merely perpetuates evil.

We are close to dawn, oh so close. Our redemption is at hand. We must hold out for just a little longer, and before we know it, Mashiach will be here.

[1] Left over pieces of meat that did not burn during the day, were burned off during the night.

[2] See Rabbi Chaim Ibn Atar, Or Hacayim, on Leviticus 6:2.

[3] Or, as Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezritch interpreted this passage, extinguish the temptation to say no to G-d. (Hayom Yom, 20 II Adar.)

[4] Exodus 3:6.

[5] Exodus 33:20. See Rabbi Moshe Sofer, Toras Moshe, ad loc. for a similar explanation.

Resist the resolution
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