Sunday, 24 February 2008

Parsha: Ki Tisa - Life is Complex

Rabbi Hecht and I share a synchronicity on complexity.
It's in the Nishma tagline:
Life is complex, Torah is complex etc.

As we seem to be drifting towards a new Dark Ages, people are seeking the old black-and-white solutions that made magic popular 1,000 years ago and dictators popular about 70 years ago. Perhaps that is why Roshei Yeshiva are now being invested with "rebbe"-like infallibility -an absolute anathema to misnagidic thinking!

Anyhow - in the parsha we see that aside from Levi'im, Yehoshua, and women and children - all 600,000+ adult Israelites were labelled with guilt for the "Molten Calf". And yet the Levite-produced carnage amounted to but 3,000 souls less than 1/60 the of the total- and should therefore be a nullified trivial measure by rabbinic thinking!

Hazal have explained that there was not simply ONE level of guilt but at least 3; viz.:
  1. Those who sinned with witnesses and warning
  2. Those who sinned with witnesses and NO warning
  3. Those who sinned without witnesses
There is also another hierarchy:
The Eirev Rav started and instigated the sin. Some Israelites joined along and some merely witnessed idly w/o any Pinchas like protest. Thus the actual culpability for worship was limited to 3,000, but the collective guilt of acquiescence or of condoning was nationwide.

Which leads us to consider that not every guilt or culpability is morally equivalent. To say that since Andy Pettite was not 100% forthcoming at first makes him as big a liar as the Rocket or as McNamee is mis-leading and is ingenuous. There ARE degrees of guilt, it is NOT a black and white continuum. And ther are levels of honesty. While few humans bat 1.000 in the honesty department, not all are compulsive liars either!

That said: culpability is a funny thing! Many "public Jews" have railed that the world was silent about the Holocaust whilst it transpired, yet many - myself included - are silent as a slaughter occurs in Darfur.

A Hong Kong native who owns a Chinese restaurant lamented to me: Jews had a Holocaust . What about the Chinese!? Indeed he is correct. In the aftermath of the Jimmy Doolittle raid "40 seconds over Tokyo" Japanese exacted revenge on 250,000 Chinese over the next few weeks. Nanking was raped! And who in the West cares to comment!? In fact most North Americans buy the Euro-Centric version of WWII beginning at Hitler's invasion of Poland and ignore the Japanese occupation of China almost completely! [not to mention Manchuria etc.]

And even in Europe, the Italian invasion of Abyssinia and the Spanish Civil War were surely part of the WWII cluster of the battles of the dictators! The point is while standing idling by is NOT the same level of culpability as committing the dirty deed, nevertheless culpability there is indeed! Woe to all of us for not doing our best to protest


1 comment:

Garnel Ironheart said...

Life is simple. You get yourself born. You're put in diapers. You spend a whole lifetime growing from that first humiliating moment when you're convered in your mother's body fluids only to die in a nursing home, in diapers and this time covered in your own body fluids.

Any questions?