Rabbi Kahana – Naso - Shavuot: Degrees of Punishments
Parashat Naso Shavuot 5780
Rabbi Nachman Kahana
Degrees of Punishments
Four degrees in a Yiddishe father’s tool chest of punishments: frask, shmice, potch, pet’chala.
Father comes home to the mess that his kids made in the house. The oldest boy gets a frask (a big slap on the cheek in anger), the younger one gets a shmice (hit of a stick where he sits), the youngest boy, a potch (a medium slap on his cheek,) and the little daughter gets off with a pet’chala (barely a slap on her cheek).
The Angel of Severe Justice, in his appointed role of prosecutor of humanity, appeared before the Creator with voluminous documentation attesting to the sins of man, which included only one small paragraph regarding the Jewish people. HaShem passes judgement with a punishment of a pandemic virus to mirror the pan-avairus (raixez) that the majority of the world’s nations are committing.
What is this pan-avaira the world is being accused of? Some heavenly initiatives take longer than others to register in the dull minds of human beings; but now the puzzle is taking shape, even though the details are still a bit sketchy.
The Gemara declares (Shabbat 55a) that the cause of all human suffering is their sins.
And the corollary: the severity of the punishment is proportional to the sin or to the sum of a variety of misdeeds collectively. So, what is humanity doing so wrong at this time?
We are in the throes of a vicious, obstinate pandemic which is killing hundreds of thousands now, and possibly even millions of human beings around the world. It could bring starvation and deprivation to billions and has signs of reverting national economies to levels of 100 years ago!
HaShem the Creator is demonstrating great anger with His creations. Some nations are feeling His frask, others his shmice, others his potch and even we in Eretz Yisrael, albeit a little pet’chala (no more – Thank HaShem).
This degree of world punishment has to be on a Biblical scale of sin. But why now, when there is an unprecedented awareness in many nations of human rights, social justice and transparency in government?
The answer has to be a sin that is rampant throughout the vast majority of the world’s states through a common sin. That avenue of sin is the international body that incorporates 193 nations, The United Nations.
The UN Charter of 1945 in Article 2(4) declares that all UN member states “shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations”.
A day does not pass when some psychotic, delusional Shi’ite Iranian leader reiterates his country’s intention to destroy the holy state of Israel, with never an attempt on the part of Iran to disguise that this is the major thrust behind their ongoing race to develop a nuclear weapon. Despite all this, there has never been a proposal by any UN member state to expel or even censure the rogue state of Iran, based on the above-mentioned article 2(4)! However, It’s actually very simple.
Who are we talking about? The Jews and their little Jewish half-acre!!
Most Christian and Moslem theologians, their adherents and allies, would feel spiritually uplifted and fulfilled if there was no State of Israel. The return of the Jewish nation to the holy land and to Yerushalayim is conclusive conformation of the Biblical proclamation that we, the Children of Israel , are God’s chosen people and ‘replacement religion’ is the figment of some illusionary anti-Semite. Rome, Mecca, the churches, and mosques and certainly those billions of people who are godless are all living a lie. Hence, most UN nations would be delighted if Iran would do the dirty work for them.
Here lies the worldwide pan-avaira – the 70 plus wolves (nations) surrounding the lonely sheep.
The Sifrei (Midrash Halacha Parashat Beha’alatcha) teaches:
Whosoever hates Yisrael (the Jewish people) is considered as hating the Creator… Whosoever rises against Yisrael is considered to have risen against HaShem, and whosoever touches (harms) Yisrael is as if he has harmed the pupil of his eye.
But this is not new, as King David stated in Tehilim (83):
A psalm of Asaph.
O God do not remain silent; do not turn a deaf ear, do not stand aloof, O God.
See how your enemies growl, how your foes rear their heads.
With cunning they conspire against your people; they plot against those you cherish.
Come, they say, let us destroy them as a nation, so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.
With one mind they plot together; they form an alliance against you
The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, of Moab and the Hagrites, Byblos, Ammon and Amalek, Philistia, with the people of Tyre.
Even Assyria has joined them to reinforce Lot’s descendants.
Do to them as you did to Midian, as you did to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon, who perished at Endor and became like dung on the ground.
Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna (all four were defeated by the judge Gidon), who said, let us take possession of the pasturelands of God.
Make them like tumbleweed, my God, like chaff before the wind.
As fire consumes the forest or a flame sets the mountains ablaze, so pursue them with your tempest and terrify them with your storm.
Cover their faces with shame, Lord, so that they will seek your name.
May they ever be ashamed and dismayed; may they perish in disgrace.
Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord, that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.
The pity in all this is that the world’s nations are at this time incapable of doing tshuva (repentance) and will have to undergo more suffering before they see the light. So, until then the words of the prophet MIcha (4,5) will have special meaning:
כי כל העמים ילכו איש בשם אלהיו ואנחנו נלך בשם ה’ א-להינו לעולם ועד:
All the nations may walk in the name of their gods, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.