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TSAV 5782

03/18/2022 02:15:25 PM


The Mesha stele dates from the 9th century BCE. Written in the ancient Moabite language, it describes the exploits of the Moabite king Mesha. I always remember, when we were studying it during my student days as a grad student at Brandeis, one of my fellow students blurted out, "the Moabites were Nazis," for the way they treated the Israelites.

Around the same time, the prophet Amos was preaching in the Land of Israel.  In the first chapter of the Biblical Book of Amos, the prophet strongly rebukes the nations on Israel's border, for the way they had treated us. Amos refers to Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon. [The world hasn't changed much in the last 3000 years.  Israel was surrounded by enemies then, and also now  (except that now they have different names! e.g., Damascus = Syria; Ammon = Jordan]

As chapter 2 begins, Amos castigates Moab.  Having studied the Moabite inscription, I would imagine that Amos would have some strong rebuke for the cruel way that Moab dealt with us.   No!  Amos rebukes Moab for having burnt the bones of the King of Edom. (A passage that my students whom I prepare for Bible Contest were studying recently!)

We see from here that we must be sensitive to injustices, even when perpretrated against former enemies.

What is the contempory relevance? We are all saddened by the slaughter and indignities being perpretated against the Ukrainians. Someone might say, who cares?  The parents and grandparents of these people were the most viscious of antisemites!  Indeed, Natan Scharansky wrote recntly in the Jerusalem Post, that wehn he was growing up in Ukraine, he knew nothing of Shabbat or kashrut; the defining element of his Jewishness was the terrible antisemitism that Jewish people endured.

Nevertheless, he stresses that the world in general, and the Jewish world in particular, must feel the pain of the Ukrainians. [And of course, they now have a Jewish president, who is inspiring them along with the whole world!]

We celebrated this week how the plans of one man to destroy our people were thwarted. Likewise, we pray for a peaceful resolution, against the modern day reincarnation of Amalek.

Shabbat shalom:  good health and good news;

Mon, June 27 2022 28 Sivan 5782