A Thought for the Week
It's getting more and more difficult to get a rise out of people these days. Stories that just a short time ago made our hair stand up on edge are somehow accepted with ease.
In August 2000 I was walking with my son and a military friend of mine along the Lebanese border of Israel. There were two fences between us and the Lebanese, with a buffer space of about thirty feet. There were signs on the fence warning us that there was a danger of getting hit by stones. Sure enough, as we were standing by the fence a bunch of rocks were hurled in our direction. I ran, while the soldier walked away casually in order not to show fear. I was still shaking when we got back into the car, and I asked my guide a question. What is to stop them from shooting? Why only rocks? My guide responded; It just can't happen! One shot and there would be a war. One shot and the Israeli Army would attack. The Arabs know well that there is zero tolerance for shooting. They will never do it. So here we are. Every day another tragic story about bullets, bombs and missiles. Yet, we have somehow gotten calmer about this.
Can you remember how you felt the first time you heard that a Yeshiva student was abusing drugs? Can you remember how you felt when the first SCUD missile fell on Tel Aviv? Can you remember how you felt the first time you heard that there was a child on the street because no Yeshiva or Jewish school would take him or her in? We were hot. Somehow, we have cooled down!
Rashi describes a boiling hot bath. Everyone wanted to go in but they were all afraid. One brazen fellow plunged in. Once he leaped in - everyone jumped in after him. When the Jews left Egypt they were hot, very hot. The surrounding nations heard about all the miracles that occurred to the Jews. The world was in awe of the Jewish people. Nations and tribes were jealous of us and wanted to attack, but they wouldn't dare. They were all afraid to jump in. One brazen nation Amalek came and plunged in. Suddenly we weren't so hot anymore.
Once Amalek attacked us we became an easy prey for the entire world. That would have been bad enough. But something even worse happened. "Asher Korcho Baderech" - Amalek made us cold. We stopped being shocked, we stopped feeling, and we turned stony, frigid and dispassionate. When Amalek attacked us our own minds and hearts became cold. I'd like to discuss the "nu-nu factor".
Once in Buffalo it came to my attention that two of my congregants were involved in an illicit affair. I was beside myself. I didn't know whether to shoot, excommunicate, scream, or threaten. The standards of my community were being compromised. Chilul Hashem was pending. Olam Haba was being thrown out the window. I called a seasoned Rabbi and described the situation to him. I'll never forget his response! "Nu-nu". I hear too many "nu-nu's". We are not as hot as we used to be. We need passion for Jewish children, for Jewish lives, for Jewish principles - we can never say "nu-nu".
The most serious crime of Amalek is that he stole our passion. Timche - erase the memory of Amalek. Be passionate! Turn up the heat!
"A tree of life for those who embrace it"