Parshah Behaalotecha – Numbers 8:1-12:16
Torah Reading for Week of June 3-9, 2012 – Sivan 13-19 5772
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Behaalotecha: Jews Refusing Orders — by Rabbi Kahane
As the current leaders of Israel are in the process of a suicidal “peace” process, the time has come to ask the following question: What are the characteristics of a true Jewish leader in the perspective of the Torah.
We can find the answer in our parsha where the first Sanhedrin of seventy elders is chosen. G-d tells Moshe that he needs to find seventy elders to help him lead the people ofIsrael, but who will they be? How does one go about picking seventy leaders? After all, there was no shortage of righteous and talented Jews around – Torah scholars, Baaleh Hesed – kind people, charismatic speakers, etc. Out of all of these great people, who does Moshe choose to lead the “Dor Hamidbar”- generation of the wilderness, which was also known as the “Dor Hadea” – the generation of the enlightened? G-d immediately singles out a specific group from which the next leadership will be chosen – the Jewish police officers who were inEgypt. Though this may appear a rather surprising choice at first glance, a deeper probe into the matter will reveal to us a tremendous lesson, so pertinent for today.
Who in the world were these Jewish policemen? In parshat Shmot, Pharoh lays down a rather heavy if not impossible edict on his Jewish slaves. They must produce a specific quota of bricks without even being given the necessary straw. The Jewish policemen were ordered by the Egyptian taskmasters to see to it that the quota was met. If this quota wasn’t met, the Jewish policemen would be blamed for it and beaten. Thus, the policemen were in a dilemma: Either they beat their brothers and by doing so they could save their own skin, or they can refuse orders, and suffer the consequences.
How would one expect them to behave? We are all too familiar with the claims of many soldiers and policemen in Israeltoday: “What can I do? I’m just a small screw in a big machine. I’m just following orders.” We might expect our Jewish police in Egyptto justify their actions in a similar fashion: “Yes, we are with you. The edict is cruel. But what can we do? We are just carrying out orders.” BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT THE JEWISH POLICEMEN DID TO THEIR BROTHERS IN EGYPT.
The policemen saw the immorality of the cruel Egyptian decree, and refused to obey the order! They also got pummeled for it “And the Jewish policemen were beaten in place of the people, and did not turn them over to the taskmasters, and would say: IT IS BETTER THAT WE BE HIT, SO THAT THE REST OF THE PEOPLE WON’T BE!”, writes the Midrash Tanchumah on our parsha.
These were the people who were chosen by G-d to lead the Jewish people.
They weren’t necessarily the most scholarly or charismatic individuals. However, their hearts burned with “Ahavat Yisrael” – love of Jews. They did not merely play lip service to the concept of Ahavat Yisrael, as it is thrown around like an empty slogan today. They had a genuine readiness to suffer for their brothers.
These are the leaders!
These words are especially relevant today. They stand in contrast to the self-indulgent politicians of today, who care more about their own careers and personal political gain than for the future survival of the people ofIsrael. It is clear who represents the alternative Jewish leadership – those who for years have suffered on behalf of saving their brothers, with great sacrifice and dedication. I have just been sentenced to a four and one half month prison sentence in the land of Israel, for speaking out against this treasonous Rabin government. I call upon all of our supporters to continue the struggle on behalf of the Jewish people.
Every Jew can merit the role of “leader” by giving of themselves on behalf of their fellow Jews. There is a time when silence is an immoral crime. Today, we are living through such a period. The people of Israel need leaders. Show the Rabin government that “we are all Kahane!” Show Rabin how a true Jewish leader is supposed to behave.