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Parshat by Rabbi Goldschmidt

Our Parsha aside from its many lessons asks a fundamental question that must be asked by all Jews regardless of the epoch, location or denomination:

We are confronted with the ramifications for not upholding the Torah, many of them are very severe and terrifying – the reason for such terror is not because they are words on a page, but because they are promises already fulfilled – the pages of history are stained with the blood of our people.

It is a reality that every Jew knows: when the forces of evil arise, it is often the Jew that is vilified and pursued even in 2024 – the campuses around the world where Jews are learning and growing into the leaders of the future are places of peril and discrimination.

37 Each man will stumble over his brother, [fleeing] as if from the sword, but without a pursuer. You will not be able to stand up against your enemies.

לזוְכָֽשְׁל֧וּ אִֽישׁ־בְּאָחִ֛יו כְּמִפְּנֵי־חֶ֖רֶב וְרֹדֵ֣ף אָ֑יִן וְלֹא־תִֽהְיֶ֤ה לָכֶם֙ תְּקוּמָ֔ה לִפְנֵ֖י אֹֽיְבֵיכֶֽם


Each man will stumble over his brother: When they run away to flee, they will stumble over each other, because they will flee in panic.

וְכָֽשְׁלוּ אִֽישׁ־בְּאָחִיו: כְּשֶׁיָּרוּצוּ לָנוּס יִכָּשְׁלוּ זֶה בָזֶה, כִּי יִבָּהֲלוּ לָרוּץ:

as if from the sword: i.e., as if fleeing from [people] who want to kill them, for they will be afraid in their hearts, and every moment, they will think that someone is chasing them. And the Midrashic explanation of וְכָשְׁלוּ אִישׁ בְּאָחִיו is: “Each man will stumble because of his brother,” i.e., one person will stumble because of someone else’s sin, because all Jews are guarantors for one another. - [Torath Kohanim 26:45, Sanh. 27b]

כְּמִפְּנֵי־חֶרֶב: כְּאִלּוּ בּוֹרְחִים מִלִּפְנֵי הוֹרְגִים, שֶׁיְּהֵא בִלְבָבָם פַּחַד, וְכָל שָׁעָה סְבוּרִים שֶׁאָדָם רוֹדְפָם; וּמִדְרָשׁוֹ וְכָשְׁלוּ אִישׁ בְּאָחִיו, זֶה נִכְשָׁל בַּעֲוֹנוֹ שֶׁל זֶה, שֶׁכָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל עֲרֵבִין זֶה לָזֶה (ספרא; סנהדרין כ"ז):

38 You will become lost among the nations, and the land of your enemies will consume you. לחוַֽאֲבַדְתֶּ֖ם בַּגּוֹיִ֑ם וְאָֽכְלָ֣ה אֶתְכֶ֔ם אֶ֖רֶץ אֹֽיְבֵיכֶֽם:


You will become lost among the nations: When you will be scattered, you will become lost from one another. וַֽאֲבַדְתֶּם בַּגּוֹיִם: כְּשֶׁתִּהְיוּ פְזוּרִים, תִּהְיוּ אֲבוּדִים זֶה מִזֶּה (עי' ספרא):

and the land of your enemies will consume you: This refers to those [Jews] who will die in the Diaspora. וְאָֽכְלָה אֶתְכֶם: אֵלּוּ הַמֵּתִים בַּגּוֹלָה:

The question before each of us is where does the line of our personal liberty and the beginning of our national responsibility end – in every age the particulars of this fundamental question change, we are confronted with new questions but the same age old dilemma.

At times we are foolishly tempted to suggest that our new conditions merit that we are no longer bound by Halacha and Torah, we create new movements to justify this position – the Torah promises that no matter how far we stray as a people, our ultimate end is return: throughout our history observance has ebbed and flowed in waves of inspiration.

44 But despite all this, while they are in the land of their enemies, I will not despise them nor will I reject them to annihilate them, thereby breaking My covenant that is with them, for I am the Lord their God.

מדוְאַף גַּם־זֹאת בִּֽהְיוֹתָ֞ם בְּאֶ֣רֶץ אֹֽיְבֵיהֶ֗ם לֹֽא־מְאַסְתִּ֤ים וְלֹֽא־גְעַלְתִּים֙ לְכַלֹּתָ֔ם לְהָפֵ֥ר בְּרִיתִ֖י אִתָּ֑ם כִּ֛י אֲנִ֥י יְהֹוָ֖ה אֱלֹֽהֵיהֶֽם:

45 I will remember for them the covenant [made with] the ancestors, whom I took out from the land of Egypt before the eyes of the nations, to be a God to them. I am the Lord.

מהוְזָֽכַרְתִּ֥י לָהֶ֖ם בְּרִ֣ית רִֽאשֹׁנִ֑ים אֲשֶׁ֣ר הוֹצֵֽאתִי־אֹתָם֩ מֵאֶ֨רֶץ מִצְרַ֜יִם לְעֵינֵ֣י הַגּוֹיִ֗ם לִֽהְי֥וֹת לָהֶ֛ם לֵֽאלֹהִ֖ים אֲנִ֥י יְהֹוָֽה:

The Torah then immediately then tells us:

46 These are the statutes, the ordinances, and the laws that the Lord gave between Himself and the children of Israel on Mount Sinai, by the hand of Moses.

מואֵ֠לֶּה הַֽחֻקִּ֣ים וְהַמִּשְׁפָּטִים֘ וְהַתּוֹרֹת֒ אֲשֶׁר֙ נָתַ֣ן יְהֹוָ֔ה בֵּינ֕וֹ וּבֵ֖ין בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל בְּהַ֥ר סִינַ֖י בְּיַד־משֶֽׁה:

Today a mass inspiration of our people is occurring around the world: in both Israel and Diaspora young people are flocking back to Hashem and His Torah – As a Rabbi it is my job to try and inspire Torah Observance and help people to open the books for themselves and learn – the Torah both promises and warns us that our national identity is bound up with the keeping and study of the Torah – we know that the stocks of Torah and Mitzvot are serious investments in both this world and the next: we attempt to inspire people to invest in them so that they can benefit and avoid the troubles mentioned in the Torah.

Jewish Sources describe this world as an “Olam HaSheker” a world of lies – it can be hard to discern the correct investment and to place our energy into the right things: the Torah’s timeless answer is that our focus should be on Spirituality: to build ourselves in terms of character, Torah, Mitzvot and acts of kindness – the other things in life wealth, fame, renown are fleeting: but our achievements in terms of Spirituality are forever for in two worlds and for our descendants after us.

Make the right investment!

Shabbat Shalom

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