Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Parshah Ki Teitzei: Unite to Fight

This week's parshah, Ki Teitzei, comprises 74 of the 613 mitzvot found in the Torah. That's a big chunk of important stuff, if you ask me. Thus, I'd like to offer some thoughts -- but the thoughts of Rabbi Marc D. Angel in his weekly Angel for Shabbat column, delivered conveniently to my inbox. You can sign up for the mailing right here.
There is a [...] kind of hatred which is totally baseless. This is the hatred symbolized by Amalek. Amalek offered no justification for its opposition to Israel; it had nothing to gain by attacking the Israelites. Amalek was imbued with pure and undiluted anti-Israelite sentiments. This kind of hatred, so totally unfounded and irrational, is much more difficult to eradicate. Therefore, the Torah commands us to be exceedingly vigilant regarding this latter kind of hatred, typified by Amalek.
Sadly, this irrational hatred of Jews has been passed by Amalek throughout the generations, up to our own day. There are those who hate Jews, hate Israel with a blind, irrational hatred. They have nothing to gain from hurting us, and have no reason to cause us ill. Yet, they seem to be infected with a disease of hatred for which they cannot  be (or do not wish to be) cured. For them, Israel and the Jews are always wrong. Don't confuse them with facts.
Rabbinic tradition teaches that Israel can defeat Amalek by strengthening our own spiritual condition. When we live according to the highest teachings and values of Torah, when we live in a spirit of love and compassion, then we undermine the forces of Amalek.
This is not a theoretical discussion. The Jewish community needs to mobilize itself to uproot the forces of Amalek in our world. Baseless hatred against us will not simply disappear on its own. Oppression of Jews will not suddenly come to a halt through wishful thinking. Rather, we need to utilize all legitimate methods available to us to help eradicate anti-Semitism, and to work with all people of good will who share our dream of a world freed from irrational hatred, bigotry and violence.
I think this is a constant and important message. Although on the same note, across the Jewish blog-o-sphere these days, not to mention in everyday conversation and at Shabbat tables, people are talking about the dangerous and catastrophic infighting the greater Jewish community is facing. Am Yisrael is suffering, but not from what's going on around us, what's going on within us. How can we unite to fight our enemies if we can't get over our differences as Jews? So let's quit opressing one another and focusing on uplifting ourselves spiritually to fight the "forces of Amalek" that the rabbi talks about. We're an everlasting people. It's time we acted like it!