FROM THE RABBI’S DESK – EMOR:
Honesty and integrity are the hallmarks of an individual who exhibits behaviour that sanctifies the name o f G-d. One whose interactions with others are calm and collected also merits that appellation. In both scenarios, it is understood that the individual in question has had the merit of studying Torah and serving Talmudic scholars. On the other hand, one who has studied Torah and acts in a way that brings discredit is considered as one who has desecrated the Torah.
The Rashash (Rav Shmuel Strashin), in his commentary on the above as described in Talmud Yoma 86A, indicates that the Chilul Hashem is not a reflection on the individual committing terrible acts, but on the Torah itself which is blamed by society for having influenced the person involved to follow this pathway of life. It does not take much for people to blame the “˜system” as the instigator of nefarious activity.
This latter statement also reflects on the unusual narrative that appears at the end of this week’s Torah reading describing the confrontation between and Israelite and a son of an Israelite woman and Egyptian father, who, according to the rabbis, squabble over ancestral land holdings. The court rules in favour of the Israelite man, and the other litigant proceeds to curse the proceedings, the law and G-d Himself. The fact that the two individuals are fighting almost becomes irrelevant, for the primary thrust of the anger of the enraged adversary is aimed to the Founder and foundation of Jewish law.
Too many of our brethren and sisters have abandoned religious practice because of perceived prejudice on the part of the laws of the Torah. In many instances, it is the attitude of the rabbi or judge involved who may express little sympathy for the plight of the wronged more so than the law itself. But the system gets blamed.
It is interesting that the Torah concludes the reading of the week with the admonition that there shall be one equitable system for all which is to be non-discriminatory. The failure to ensure the impartiality of law and the lack of mentschlichkeit in applying the law lead to the condemnation of the law by those touched by it. Hence, chilul Hashem.