Today in synagogue we read the Bible portion “Tazria-Metzora” (Vayikra/Leviticus 12:1-15:33, supplemental reading II Kings 7:3 – 7:20). We learn about leprosy, a repulsive skin disease caused by nasty talk, which is symptomatic of being a hate-monger.
Leviticus Rabbah notes that seven problematic attitudes and behaviors mentioned in Proverbs 6:17-19 all cause leprosy, as follows:
“A haughty bearing, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a mind that hatches evil plots, feet quick to run to evil, a false witness testifying lies, and one who incites brothers to quarrel.”
Per the Midrash, the rabbis say that causing people to fight with each other “is as harsh as them all put together.”
In Biblical times, lepers were evicted from the camp; their clothes were thrown out if it re-appeared; and their houses could even be demolished if the disease appeared, then made a repeat appearance.
Why punish people so severely for their words? As Israeli Attache to the United States Brig. Gen. Yehuda Fox reminded us in his speech today in synagogue: both of the Holy Temples of Israel were destroyed because of strife between the people, a problem that very much exists in Israel today as well.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” said President Lincoln, quoting Jesus.
But some have misinterpreted the admonition against talebearing to mean that we should let people get away with bad behavior. This is incorrect; you aren’t supposed to “stick together” just to avoid strife. Leviticus 19:17: “You shall not hate your kinsfolk in your heart. Reprove your kinsman but incur no guilt because of him.”
Some form of personal rebuke, coupled with the justice system, is the only way to fulfill Deuteronomy 16:20: “Justice, justice, shalt thou pursue.”
It is in this light that I suggest the importance of bringing the recognition, love and yes, fear of God into Zionism. This is not to generate strife or hatred, or to minimize the sacrifices of those who have died for the sake of re-establishing the Jewish homeland. It is to gently rebuke a belief system that emphasizes the strength of our hands as opposed to God’s miraculous intervention in our shared fortune.
Yes, Israel has beat back her enemies. Yes, Israelis are smart. Yes, they stand together with the United States to uphold shared values and combat mutually deadly enemies.
But we need God. The “Hatikvah” or Israeli national anthem does not mention His name or existence. At one point maybe this was necessary in order to be inclusive. It’s time to go beyond that.
At the conclusion of the speech they opened the Ark where the Torahs are, and the synagogue sang the Hatikvah as though saying a prayer. I did not join them, as beautiful as the Hatikvah is and as much as I endorse Zionism, because I find it sacreligious to mix religion and secular as though they were one and the same.
“Faith over fear,” my husband said to me tonight. “Faith over fear.”
The war of Gog and Magog is coming, if it is not already here. We can avert disaster by remembering that the final act of this play involves God showing us that He, and only He, is responsible for what happens on Planet Earth, as well as beyond.
By Dr. Dannielle (Dossy) Blumenthal. All opinions are the author’s own. Public domain.