Divrei Torah

PARSHAS SHEMOS 5777

With this week’s Parsha, we pass from the Book of Breishis to the 2nd book of the Chumash – Shemos. One of the themes in the Book of Breishis is the idea of “what happens to our forefathers is an indicator of future events that will happen to the Jewish people.” The Book of Shemos begins with the word “and these”. The letter “vav” is a conjunction, meaning that the Book of Shemos is a continuation from the Book of Breishis. It is not only a continuation in the story of the Jewish people, but it also appears to be a continuation to the idea of “what happens to our forefathers is an indicator of future events that will happen to the Jewish people.” 

As Moshe grew up in the Pharaoh’s palace, he went to observe the slavery of the Jews. He saw an Egyptian man beating a Jew, so he killed the Egyptian. The next day he saw two Jews fighting and said to the one Jew who was hitting the other, “Wicked one. Why are you hitting your friend?” The Jew’s response was, “Are you going to kill me as you did the Egyptian?” Moshe was afraid that a Jew had informed against him for killing the Egyptian. Sure enough, the Pharaoh sought after Moshe and attempted to execute him. How did the Pharaoh find out what happened? Rashi explains that the two Jews who fought – Dasan and Aviram – informed against Moshe to the Pharaoh. As a result, Moshe fled Egypt, ending up in Midian and marrying Tzippora the daughter of Yisro.

At the end of the Parsha, we once again find that Moshe had a run in with Dasan and Aviram. Moshe bargained with Pharaoh to try and ease the Jewish workload. However, Pharaoh made the workload heavier. As Moshe left the palace, he was confronted by Dasan and Aviram. They complained to Moshe “not only did you not save us, since you began speaking with Pharaoh, you made it worse for us.” Moshe appeared to be disheartened, However, G-d told him, “just wait and see what will happen. The Jewish people will win and be freed.”

Dasan and Aviram were the first recorded informers and naysayers among the Jewish people. Unfortunately, they are an indicator of difficult times ahead. Since then, the Jewish people have frequently been set back and betrayed by fellow Jews who were often looking to advance their personal cause at the expense of their fellow Jew. 

We have seen plenty of this in our time. A while back there were “religious” Jews who went to Iran for a Holocaust bashing conference. Fortunately, they do not represent many people. Unfortunately, they make much noise and much harmful noise. For various reasons not every Jew likes the State of Israel. One is not obligated to like the State of Israel. People are permitted to have differing views about the State of Israel. However, to act in a manner that is careless and harmful to the Jewish people, just to make news and prove a point, is a Jewish act of treason. 

A year ago in October, with daily stabbings taking place in Israel, a professor from the University of Chicago and a professor from Harvard wrote an article entitled, “We are Lifelong Zionists. Here’s why we’ve chosen to boycott Israel.” The title of the article itself already tells you that these are self-hating Jews. They compared Israel to the Apartheid states of Rhodesia and South Africa. “Can we continue to embrace a state that permanently denies rights to other people?” they wrote. “Until Israel seriously engages with a peace process that either establishes a sovereign Palestinian state or grants full democratic citizenship to Palestinians living in a single state, we cannot continue to subsidize governments whose actions threaten Israel’s long-term survival.”  

Firstly, it would be good if they had their facts and definitions correct. Secondly, it is nice of them to write from the comforts of Chicago and Boston. Let us see these self-hating Jews walk into Ramallah or Nablus without being attacked. Will their opinions stay the same? They probably can be classified as traitors. 

We should not be surprised that there are Jews or people with Jewish blood who are interested in undermining us. In today’s Parsha we see a precedent for such destructive behavior. Self-inflicted wounds are nothing new to our people, but the Jewish people are still here. This is the greatest testament to the truth of the Torah and the eternity of the Jewish people – no matter what anybody might happen to say.