Sunday, January 14, 2018

  • Sunday, January 14, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon


In the Rabbis for Human Rights article on this past week's weekly Torah portion, Rabbi Dr. Iris Yaniv has a problem with how God deals with the Egyptians while not punishing the Jews.

It's discriminatory, you see.

I would like to focus on another theological problem that arises from the text, and this is the discrimination between the children of Israel and the Egyptians, as is noted clearly in the description of three of the plagues in our Torah reading:

The plague of the mixture of wild animals (Erov) – Chapter 8, verses 18-19:

“And I will separate on that day the land of Goshen, upon which My people stand, that there will be no mixture of noxious creatures there, in order that you know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth. And I will make a redemption between My people and your people; this sign will come about tomorrow.”

The plague of the diseased livestock, Chapter 9, verses 4-7:

4. And the LORD shall make a division between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt; and there shall nothing die of all that belongeth to the children of Israel.
5. And the LORD appointed a set time, saying: ‘Tomorrow the LORD shall do this thing in the land.
6. And the LORD did that thing on the morrow, and all the cattle of Egypt died; but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one.
7.  And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not so much as one of the cattle of the Israelites dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was stubborn, and he did not let the people go.

The plague of hail, Exodus, in the same chapter 9, verses 25-26:

25. And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and broke every tree of the field.
26. Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail.

The traditional commentators explain the word discrimination (haflaya) but sense no theological difficulty arising from the discrimination itself.
However, attorney Yotam Tolov, executive director of “Bezchut” organization, concerned with the rights of people with special needs, and an author, writes the following regarding discrimination:

“Firstly, it creates distinctions and separates between two (people), secondly discrimination according to most understandings of it knows to ‘cover its tracks’ and to find ‘natural’ explanations for the distinctions while disguising or hiding the advantage to the discriminating party. Thirdly, discrimination is likely to arouse wonder regarding ‘why did this land suffer but that land did not suffer?’ When discrimination becomes no longer invisible and arouses questions (literally ‘wonder’) then the process of inner collapse begins.”

I, too, like Yotam Tolov, perceive a great problem in this discrimination. Discrimination leads to injustice. I would have preferred that no plagues were visited on the Egyptians at all, who suffer because G-d, for G-d’s own reasons, hardened Pharaoh’s heart. If we add to this the discrimination inherent in the plagues – the sense of inequality and injustice is even more extreme.
I hardly need to add that the Egyptians were guilty of crimes against the Israelites, and not only Pharaoh. (Pharaoh said it himself, Exodus 9:27, "I and my people are wicked," when he wanted Moses to stop the hail. See also Ex. 1:13-14 where the Egyptians are the ones who enslave and oppress Israel, not just Pharaoh.)

It also hardly needs mentioning that the entire point of the plagues was to show that God controls the universe. If the plagues had hit the Israelites as well, Pharaoh would assume they were some bizarre natural phenomenon and would have never let them go.

To these "human rights" so-called rabbis, God doesn't know what He is doing when he punishes the wicked and spares the innocent. To them, in the interests of fair play, He really should have punished the slaves, too.

Can there be a better example of how Judaism is subverted to the political correctness of the higher "morality" of Israel's critics?





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