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January 17, 2015 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Bo

This week’s Torah portion continues the saga of the plagues.  Just before the plague of locusts (no.8) the king asks Moses “who are they that shall go?” (Exodus 10:8).  Moses responds: pretty much everyone. The king then says “see ye that evil is before your face.” (10:10).  Rasthi interprets this as “the evil that you are about to do will turn against you.”

Most moderns have been educated to believe that slavery is evil.  As a result, we may assume that his refusal to liberate the Hebrews is driven by economics or by arrogance.  But this passage suggests that the Pharoah thinks that the Hebrews’ escape from slavery is itself evil; no wonder he is so unwilling to give in!  In a world of hierarchy and slavery, the king thinks he really is the good guy and Moses is not.

Often, the most vicious disputes are based on this kind of difference; for example,jihadists really think that killing Jews and Sh’iites is simply good, in the same way that I think that giving Tzedakah is go

These sort of basic differences of principle hit closer to home, and need not relate to truly moral considerations (if you define moral as “involving relationships to people rather than ritual mitzvot”)   A friend of mine (giving completely unsolicited advice)  that in my current city (which, fortunately, I will be leaving for another temporary job in a few mos.), I should of course drive to shul on weekends where the intown Chabad near me is closed.  Because she’d never not driven to shul, for her it was just a completely OK thing to do.  I didn’t really argue with her, because (a) I only her once or twice a year so it just didn’t seem worth it, (b) she’s so opinionated that its hard to argue with her about anything and (c) I think it would have taken quite a bit of time to explain the assumptions underlying my disagreement with her view.

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