01 April 2016

WHY EVIL KINGS ARISE AGAINST US

BS"D
WHY EVIL KINGS ARISE AGAINST US

In these days between Purim and Passover, I would like to consider a subject which pertains to both holidays and also to our current world scene. With Purim comes Haman and with Passover comes Pharaoh, both classic examples of powerful kings whose entire being is consumed by hatred of the Jewish People.

Why do they hate us so much?

Why does G-d allow us to be repeatedly exposed to such terrible enemies?

We know that the word “Sinai” implies “sinah”, hatred. Rabbi Elchonen Wasserman zt”l said, “When our ancestors declared their willingness to accept the Torah, they were set aside from all the nations who had refused to do so and they embarked on a road of no return. Their unique identity as the Chosen People would be preserved either by adherence to Torah or by the sinah of the nations whose hatred would remind them of their unique mission” (Related by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt”l).

Why does our direct relationship with G-d lead to jealousy among the nations? Why are they so embittered by our status as “the Chosen People?” The other nations do not want to be subjected to the laws promulgated by the Master of the Universe. They want to be free to engage in pursuing their desires without impediment. When a Nation exists whose very essence is the fulfillment of those laws and this nation makes G-d’s Existence known in the world, the other nations hate us because we remind them of their deviation from moral behavior. They want to eliminate the giver of the message so they can continue to pretend that there is no G-d Who will call them to account for their depraved lifestyle.

It says in the Shema, if you will “continuously hearken” to G-d’s commandments, then He will “provide grass in your field for your cattle and you will eat and be satisfied…” Why is that passage directly followed by “Beware lest your heart be seduced and you turn astray and serve gods of others”?

If the goal of our existence becomes “eat and be satisfied”, then we are not focusing upon the point of our entire existence, and that is when we get into trouble. This is the moment in which, if we don’t return to G-d, the nations start becoming stronger and evil enemies arise against us.

We tend to regard historical enemies as mythical, but if we don’t take them seriously, then we meet them again, G-d forbid. Just seventy years ago, one of the most terrible enemies in history tried to annihilate our entire nation. His life was devoted to hatred of the Jewish People. Why do such enemies arise against us? Why do our Sages tell us that, during the footsteps of the Messiah, an enemy will arise who is as “harsh as Haman” (Sanhedrin 97b).

When we embrace materialism, we begin to think that the physical world is the ultimate reality. Why, for example, is it difficult to concentrate during prayers? Why do I think of mundane things when I am trying to speak to G-d? Because I attribute more reality to physical objects than I do to G-d. The evil inclination wants us to believe that our words to G-d are less important than the stray thoughts entering our brain. Why do I feel I have to remember to buy flashlight batteries when I am speaking to G-d? It is because I am operating on the assumption that G-d does not control everything. Somehow my shopping needs vie in importance with my plea to G-d to rebuild Jerusalem or return His Presence to Zion!

How does G-d remind us to come back to Him and regain our perspective?

An evil king takes over the entire world, making it his priority to destroy us, G-d forbid. As we mentioned above, it was only a few decades ago that millions of our brethren were subjected to a life of terror and torture. Their entire lives became hell! Mental and physical and spiritual torture overcame their entire life! This was not mythical; it was stark reality. The dominance of evil was real, surrounding everyone at all times, night and day. People were submerged in a sea of terror, trouble and tragedy whose totality and power were overwhelming.

My friends, do you see the amazing work of G-d? Think of this, because it boggles the mind.

Once we saw and felt the apparently-invincible power of evil, then we could believe that there is such a thing as a kingdom which is invincible and ubiquitous. But if there can be an evil kingdom which is apparently all-powerful, then it is only a small step to believe in a good - opposite - kingdom which is all powerful! G-d has enabled us to believe in the reality of good by showing us the reality of evil.

By allowing evil kings to arise, G-d enables us to envision a good king! As we say Friday night, “Too long have you dwelt in the Valley of Weeping … Shake off the dust. Arise!” (Lecha Dodi) We can arise from our slumber and come back to Him.

This phenomenon is also alluded to in the law of the Red Heifer which we read this week. How is it possible that slaughtering and burning a red cow can lead instantly to the purification of an entire nation? When we see the symbol of our attachment to materialism go up in smoke, and there is nothing left but ashes, we have suddenly opened the way to holiness. In a moment, we can become purified.

May we soon see the destruction of all evil and our return to the purity of the Days of our Creation. May evil quickly turn to good! “When the wicked bloom like grass and all the doers of iniquity blossom, it is to destroy them until eternity!” (Psalm 92)


© Copyright 2016 by Roy S. Neuberger




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Have not yet read a column written by Roy Neuberger which has not been uplifting. His work is marvelous. May all the good become our reality in a blink of an eye.